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The future King Charles visits Canada on behalf of the Queen

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London (AFP) – Prince Charles will travel to Canada this week to represent the head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, with more focus than ever on his future role due to his mother’s age and failing health.

Increasingly, every move of the heir to the throne is coming under greater scrutiny as the 96-year-old monarch’s record 70-year reign draws to a close.

Last week Charles, 73, stood in for the Queen at the last minute at the official opening of Britain’s parliament in the clearest sign that his long wait to become king is coming to an end.

Her appearance and the Queen’s absence from the ceremony for the first time in almost 60 years caused a noticeable shift in public opinion towards her position.

A YouGov survey for Times Radio conducted this week suggested that 34% of people now think she should retire, rather than remain queen for life, up from 25% last month.

Just under half (49%) said she should remain queen, down 10 points from last month.

At the same time, Charles’ stock has risen: 36% think he will make a good king, up four points from last month, according to the survey of 1,990 people.

Her visit to Canada is one of a series of royals visiting some of the 14 Commonwealth countries outside the UK, where the Queen is also head of state.

But the visits, which included the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, did not go entirely to plan, particularly in the Caribbean.

There, Charles’ eldest son, Prince William, faced protests against past royal ties to slavery, demands for reparations and growing republican sentiment.

Charles, 73, stood in for his 96-year-old mother at the official opening of Britain’s parliament last week Ben Stansall Pool/AFP

His youngest brother, Prince Edward, experienced similar protests, a sign that the global reach of the monarchy Charles will inherit is likely to be greatly reduced.

Royal historian Robert Lacey said the visits, widely criticized in part as a callous throwback to colonial times, represented a “radical change” for royal overseas tours.

“We’re going to have to think hard about what works in the future…what activities are appropriate, and whether in particular the military and ceremonial aspects of touring are in keeping with the modern world,” he told the AFP.

Falling support

Charles and his wife Camilla, 74, could be on safer ground in Canada, which the Queen has visited 22 times since 1951, a year before she assumed the throne.

Their visit from Tuesday to Thursday will be the Prince of Wales’ 19th since 1970 and the Duchess of Cornwall’s fifth since 2009.

Queen Elizabeth II met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Windsor Castle in March
Queen Elizabeth II met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Windsor Castle in March Steve Parsons POOL/AFP

They will travel thousands of kilometers from Newfoundland and Labrador in the east to the Northwest Territories in northern Canada.

A special reception is planned in Canada’s National Capital Region to mark the Jubilee.

There are nevertheless signs of growing estrangement from the royal family in the world’s second largest country, according to the latest poll.

Nearly two-thirds of Canadians still have a favorable opinion of the Queen. However, a majority (51%) is no longer in favor of maintaining a constitutional monarchy.

Part of the drop in support is linked to changing views on colonialism, as Canada comes to terms with its past, including the abuse and death of Indigenous children.

The discovery in the past year of at least 1,300 unmarked Indigenous graves at former residential schools has sparked widespread soul-searching.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who met the Queen at Windsor Castle in March, has made reconciliation a priority for his government.

Charles and Camilla, whose program touches on themes close to their hearts, including climate change and literacy, will acknowledge abuse during the visit.

Memorials have sprung up across Canada after unmarked graves of Indigenous children have been discovered in the past year
Memorials have sprung up across Canada after unmarked graves of Indigenous children have been discovered in the past year Cole BurstonAFP

His Deputy Private Secretary for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Chris Fitzgerald, said the prince would engage with indigenous communities on the trip.

“For five decades, His Royal Highness continues to learn from Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world,” he said last month.

“It recognizes their deep connection to land and water and the essential traditional knowledge they hold to restore harmony between people and nature.”