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King Charles III Review

Ham-fisted glorifications of a divisive family. Glib details shunted toward the camera from the mouth of Tim-Pigott Smith. What was once a joke outed by Hugh Dennis on Mock the Week is taken at face value, a bitter Prince Charles, now King, in both the real world and this fictionalised mess. Disbelief at the passing of a very old woman is staggered out and throws out some C-List stars of the British small screen. King Charles III is a reality now and if this is anywhere close to accurate then goodness, what a dull build-up and abysmally written piece this is. Kissing up to killing off and trying to muster some mourning that, at the time of its release, was nowhere close to being realised. Even then, its clear love of the family it finds itself slating as walking, one-line stinted empties is a stunning blow.  

Stiff upper lip for the public grieving, but that is what happens when everyone speaks as though the Queen was public property and not just a controversial, divisive head of an equally sinister family. Not even Tim Pigott-Smith can manage this. Caricatures of a Royal Family director Rupert Goold clearly respect are just repulsive, disgusting renditions of members he does not know. Prince Harry is the generic party boy, little spots of detail dribbled in for outsiders looking in, continually obsessed with their comings and goings. One support character introduced merely as a “commoner” is there to deliver modern hotshot details that tabloids are raked over coals for reporting on. King Charles III attempts to balance itself on Shakespeare but rattles off like a sexless, dire and paste-grey rendition of the family drama in Succession.  

King Charles fighting for the freedom of the press is an irony and a half. It is of course all fiction. Terrible fiction. Adapting the real world into a sense of fabrication is one thing, but to change the diatribe levelled at these people and the lampoon-like support that surrounds it is baffling. Spotty shots from Goold and Adam James’ supporting role as the Prime Minister are all well and good until Pigott-Smith, whose role is the stern and unlikeable lead, brings about a disagreeable position. Not for the sake of the story but from how the Royal Family is perceived, fictional or not. Most of the shots see him speak to the camera or point it up to him, a figure of authority and, by his own admission here, of democratic justice. How that works out is anyone’s guess and King Charles III, which spends more of his time wondering what the future of the Royal Family is by reflecting on what they have not done. Visions of Diana. Not a forgotten Bob Dylan B-Side, but the laughable crux that keeps this film trudging along. 

Cast aside whatever feeling the Royal Family may conjure and look into what King Charles III offers. About as much as the people themselves. King Charles III is based on weak proposals that the Royal Family is the “check and balance” of the United Kingdom. It is hard to swallow that pill in current times and it was even before allegations, in-fighting and general stagnation hit them. From Prince Harry mulling around a normal home and feeling flabbergasted by what a Pot Noodle is and how a Wetherspoons operates to a Lady Macbeth-like creation for Kate Middleton. It is asinine, laughable and good fun to sit and poke holes in. Goold has always dabbled in mixing up history, as he did with Judy, and the theatrics of Macbeth turns out a disgusting, loathsome rendition of nasty people in King Charles III.  Goold hoped to convince that the people of Britain would riot should a royal dissolve parliament. Staring down the nose at what parliament is doing right now, and seeing people are not rioting, puts that and King Charles III to bed. 

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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