Saturday, October 29, 2005

Prince Charles on 60 Minutes: "The most important thing is to be relevant"


Is Prince Charles relevant? (AP Photo/CBS News, Paul Mottram)

Are aristocrats ever "relevant" in a democratic age? What is the social role of the aristocrat, other than, it seems nowadays, to live a life of idle leisure, occasionally affixing the odd door price to a party thus raising funds -- along with glasses of the fizzy -- for good works? Sure, their eccentricities are fun to gossip about; often their looks are singularly striking -- but are they, really and truly, a cultural phenomenon to be taken seriously, or are they simply an outmoded vestigial limb on the body politic? One thing is for certain, they wield nothing of the power they once did in the early ages of civilization.

Steve Kroft gets Prince Charles, in his first American interview in a decade, on the couch to wrestle with some of those questions. And it looks like The Corsair is in love with 60 Minutes all over again even after we threw an online tantrum last week (Please refrain from the sports-on-60-Minutes, guys, its not the proper forum). According to

"It�s not easy being Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne says in his first American television interview in more than a decade. He offered a rare and personal look into the life of a royal. The most difficult thing about his role is being relevant, when his words can be dismissed because of the ivory-tower perception people can have of him, the prince tells 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft, Sunday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. ET/PT. Asked by Kroft what the most difficult part of his job is, the prince replies, 'The most important thing is to be relevant. � It isn�t easy, as you can imagine,' he says, 'because if you say anything, people will say, �It�s all right for you to say that.� It�s very easy to just dismiss anything I say. � It�s difficult.'

"Relevancy for Prince Charles means backing up his stated wishes with real projects and efforts that can fulfill them. To bring to life his desire for harmony among the social classes and respect for the environment, for example, he has developed a village dedicated to accomplishing those goals. 'What I�ve tried to do is to put my money where my mouth is as much as I can. � by actually creating models on the ground,' he says, gesturing to the buildings of Poundbury, a village he has developed that is built of native or recycled materials where people of all income levels live side by side. Poundbury is just one project of dozens the prince oversees in his many functions that also include being a philanthropist, ambassador, an advocate for minorities and the underprivileged, as well as a spokesman � indeed, a symbol � of tradition. It all comes with the territory says Prince Charles, a duty to his country that he describes for Kroft: 'I would list it as worrying about this country and its inhabitants. That�s my particular duty. And I find myself born into this particular position. I am determined to make the most of it.' Prince Charles uses his influence to raise $200 million a year for 16 charitable organizations, 14 of which he founded himself. The largest of them, The Prince�s Trust, provides job training for young people. Another project he began helps older, downsized workers start their own businesses. He believes endeavors like these would never have come to be without his efforts. He hopes he�s making a difference and that people notice. 'I try (to make a difference),' he tells Kroft. 'I only hope that, when I�m dead and gone, they might appreciate it a little bit more.'"

See a video clip and read the full transcript on

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