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“Dear, oh dear” – What could King Charles do if confidence in the Prime Minister continues to plummet?

As they met for their weekly get together, King Charles III was heard to mutter ‘back again, dear oh dear,” as Prime Minister, Liz Truss, made her entrance. It may have been a comment on the Prime Minister’s somewhat unusual style of curtseying although less kind commentators have gone as far to question whether the Monarch was thinking out loud for the country. Whatever the reason for his remark, it might be the calm before the storm. As Liz Truss faces a political crisis, it’s now being asked whether the King can bin the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister is surrounded by queries over her future as the mini budget that was meant to set out her stall as leader continues to cause chaos around the country. Less than six weeks after being appointed by Queen Elizabeth II, Liz Truss is in major damage limitation mode. She has sacked the Chancellor who delivered that now infamous financial statement and the political pages of the papers are filled with whispers that her own MPs might seek to remove her sooner rather than later. And that’s led to a question about the royal role in her future – could King Charles III sack his first Prime Minister?

The answer is a bit of a dear, oh dear for Liz Truss. The Monarch appoints the Prime Minister and usually asks the person nominated by the party holding power in parliament. Liz Truss was appointed after the Conservative Party membership chose her in a seven week race against Rishi Sunak. The Conservatives hold a majority in the Commons and so their leader is in a position to form a government as they have the confidence of the House.

And that’s the crucial point here. The Monarch has to ask a person who holds the confidence of the House of Commons to form a government. And that produces a situation in which the man who has ruled for just six weeks could tell his first Prime Minister to step aside. If it becomes evident that the Prime Minister does not have the confidence of the Commons, The King has the right to ask someone who does to form an administration.

There are increasing indications that the Tories might make that easy for him. A vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister would all but force her out. At that point, the Conservatives would have to put forward an alternative. However, if they couldn’t agree on one or if The King thinks there is someone who does command the confidence of the Commons who hasn’t been put forward, he can turn to them.

King Charles III’s role is to ask the person who has the confidence of the House to form a government. It may well be something he’s brushing up on right now. The Prime Minister’s decision to bin her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, has done nothing to quell debate over her leadership. Worries over money have sharpened many minds over the state of the government.

It’s not been helped by an editorial in The Economist which has caught the public imagination, with a little help from the Royal Family. The magazine pointed out that Liz Truss had been in office for 17 days before unveiling the mini budget. However, for eleven of those, government business was suspended because of national mourning for Queen Elizabeth II. That meant, said the mag, that the PM had been exercising real power for just six days when she ”blew up her own government”, adding that her shelf life was less than that of a lettuce.

There is a now a webcam of a lettuce and a photo of the Prime Minister to see which wilts quicker, provided by The Star.

It’s a question being asked by many. The UK has seen many changes over the past months. King Charles may not have expected to be facing a potential change of Prime Minister before he’d delivered his first Christmas speech but Liz Truss would have to last until the festive season to not become the shortest serving premier in history. There are plenty who think the lettuce will be in better shape once Jingle Bells starts playing.

Whatever the outcome, it’s a moment to focus the mind of the new King. After decades preparing for this role, he is having to consider the full gamut of his position as constitutional monarch before he’s even been crowned (and let’s not talk crowns here, there’s only so much controversy anyone can take on a Friday afternoon).

‘Dear, oh dear,’ might turn out to be the high point of a very difficult week.

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