This is the interview of Prince Charles:
Q: You serve as chairman of a number of organizations and charities designed to encourage work opportunities for young people. What can you, as the Prince of Wales, do to cope with the serious economic problems, particularly the unemployment in Britain today?
A: Often you sit there and you think -- what the hell can I do? -- The problem is enormous, and it's like banging your head against an immense brick wall: it never seems to have any effect. But it's very interesting how if you bang your head against one bit of the wall, eventually you will dislodge a bit of the brick, or you might knock one out, and at that point you are achieving something. My philosophy has been that it's better to begin something in a tiny small way which has the possibility of growing into something larger, than not to attempt it at all. Or, on the other hand, to attempt something large which fizzles out rather ignominiously. Which is the other severe danger: that if you try and do something in too large and loud a way, you raise everybody's expectations and then can't fulfill them which actually (is) more dangerous, I think, because it increases possible bitterness and frustration. But I hope to now, through these various organizations -- one I started about eight or nine years ago, (is) called "The Prince's Trust." I wanted to try and get at the areas which I felt, at that stage, were the most important. (They) were those of the rather alienated young in, in particular, some of the inner city areas of this country, who felt very much neglected. (They), I suppose, felt completely alienated from society and from anything to do with the establishment, as such. I think there is a growing proportion of people like that, not just the young, but those who have families and so on, who are frightened even of doctors and teachers -- they represent authority and the establishment. How then, do we somehow get through to these people, and make them aware that there are people prepared to try and help? So this is how the trust started. As a result, I've built up a large number of contacts, people in all walks of life: those who deal with social work, probation and aftercare for young offenders, and so on. All these people are very keen to see ways of improving the situation. And through a trust like mine they see that there's an opportunity to get things done without too much red tape.
Q: Does the nature of smaller pilot projects (like the trust) enable them to have the necessary impact on a problem? Or is it conceivable that they might distract from the core question for Britain today, which is how to adapt to the latter part of the 20th century, how to adjust Britain to the realities of the world in which it now exists?
A: Again, you see my problem is perhaps where it's worth trying to explain, I don't actually have a role to play. I have to create it. And there is no set book of rules, so to speak, as to what my job is in the scheme of things. I am the heir to the throne, full stop. That's all. I could do absolutely nothing if I wanted to. I could go and play polo all over the world, I suppose. I could do anything in that sense because there are no laid down responsibilities or anything. Anything that I do I have to create myself. So all the interests that I have got myself involved in I do because I am interested or concerned, or anxious. I happen to mind about this country, and I mind about all the countries of the commonwealth. I think a lot of people outside this country, and perhaps some of them inside this country, think that somehow or other this particular family "rules," in inverted commas. It doesn't, because the whole system has grown up in such a loose and extraordinarily informal way over the centuries. The British constitution is not written, and as a result everything has grown just like topsy. Whereas in America it's laid down what happens, to all intents and purposes, what people can and can't do to a certain extent. It's not the case in this country. It's all done in this very informal way, based on a certain amount of precedent, what's been done before. And precedent changes all the time, because you can make another precedent. It's very interesting, it then becomes part of the way of doing things, and again it's a tradition. But in my case I can't affect things on a large scale. The only way I can see myself achieving anything is by example. That's the way I look at it. I can make speeches until I am blue in the face, but I believe that that's not really going to have much effect. It's the way you behave, the way you act, what things you do and how you do them, and how you are seen to be doing them which is what ultimately is going to have an effect, I believe. For instance, I felt some time ago that engineering, as far as this country's future and progress was concerned, was very important. And I came to the conclusion when I was in the navy and met various engineers, that the engineering profession in this country was not given the status that it should have, which it does have in Germany, for instance, or America or Japan. And one of the things that I do feel, is that if we are going to get anywhere in this country, if we are going to be able to compete with all of these other countries, we must improve the status of engineers. So one of the things we managed to achieve two years ago was a particular award, for instance, for those who have interesting, innovative and inventive ideas which can be translated into production. This award is in cooperation with the BBC, so it appears on the television and the people who have contributed interesting and inventive ideas are judged, and finally appear on this television program. Roughly an audience of 9 million people see these ideas. As a result, these people get inquiries from businesses, industries, entrepreneurs, investors and so on, which again contributes, perhaps, to change -- to a different outlook on people who have the inventive idea, the actual engineers who have put them into practice. I like to think that that particular project may have an effect. It is growing. It is getting bigger. We have 900 entries this year. And now the judges that I was involved with have come to me saying that they want to expand the whole thing, to make it bigger, which means more money, bigger prizes, have exhibitions. And that's one example of what can happen if you start small. It's again all a matter, I think, of example. The same thing applies to race relations.
Q: That is what I was going to ask you next. The question of example becomes extremely important in the issue of race relations. What is the proper, the appropriate role of the Prince of Wales in a matter such as that?
A: Again you see, I am finding my way. I do it the way I feel -- the way that it should be done. The basis of the whole thing is that I mind about people as individuals and how they fit into life, as it were. I mind about the way minorities -- and in this particular sense, racial minorities from commonwealth countries who were part of the empire originally -- the way they are treated in this country; the way they attempt to fit in with our particular way of doing things, which is not easy, to say the least. And when you come from India, or Pakistan, for instance, you may think that through the connections with Britain over many centuries, through many shared organizations, institutions, ways of doing things, that you know about. . . . Many Indians and Pakistanis, for instance, admire greatly Britain from afar, all its institutions, traditions and so on. (But) actually coming to live in such and such a street in Birmingham, or Bradford or London, or wherever, is another matter altogether. When they bring their own culture, their own religion, their own customs and are proud of them, obviously they want to continue with them, and want their children to be brought up with that religion, with that particular outlook, and their particular manner and customs which are very important to them. How do they fit in with a different kind of culture and society which is very obviously Western in its outlook? There is a gap, a sort of barrier. My interest is how to help them best to fit in, and to make people in this country at the same time aware of their customs, of their culture and religion. Because I believe so much is to do with ignorance, really, of people's ways of life. We all lead our lives in little compartments, and we know so little about all the other aspects of life which we are not actually physically involved with at the time. I was talking to a man just now who is putting up a picture in the house. And a lot of people say to him -- they ask him what he does. And he says: "I deal with pictures. It's just a matter of putting a nail in the wall." But it involves far more than that, particularly the old masters which need an amazing degree of care in handling and expertise. I didn't know about a lot of these things. But when you listen to somebody like that suddenly, a whole new area becomes more clear to you. We are very bad, aren't we, at realizing that there is much more to life than actually meets the eye. As far as race relations is concerned I feel that there is a great deal to be done, from my point of view, because of what I want for people who come from different countries. Those who are born in this country from black parents are now British subjects, albeit with a black face, but speaking with a British accent and everything else, and brought up in British schools and the British way of life, to a certain extent. I want them to feel that they are part of this country's existence. And they are as much welcome at, for instance, Buckingham Palace, or here, as anywhere else. And if they can be welcome there, then they should be welcome anywhere else. And this is one of the things that I feel is important, to show that somebody is concerned about them in a totally non-political way. I have no axe to grind. I am just interested in making as happy a society as possible.
Q: So you perceive this involvement for yourself as that of a motivator, as distinct from someone with responsibility or time, for that matter, to choose a role in industry, or a specific function in government?
A: I suppose I could do, easily single out something. But it's terribly difficult, I find, just to remain involved in that one thing. For instance, I was in the navy for five years and that was one very important aspect of our island existence. And as an island, we rely on -- very, very heavily on -- our maritime ability, and if we forget that, we forget it at our peril. I believe we have learned a lot of lessons recently in the South Atlantic about our ability to be flexible, to respond in a flexible way, and all these sort of problems which maybe one never thought would arise, but they so often do, just to annoy you. I could have stayed in the navy I suppose. I could have concentrated purely on being a professional naval officer. But there were difficulties with that because I would only have stayed if I could have gone on flying, which is my main love in the navy. And it was becoming more and more difficult because people get into a terrible state about flying. You know -- if I am going to fly myself into a hill, the sea, or whatever. People get very upset, and it was all becoming more and more difficult. The restrictions that I had to operate under, and the annoyance factor I was to everybody else who was responsible for me, made it more and more complicated. That was one of the problems and it is always the difficulty. If, for instance, I got myself involved in an industrial enterprise, I don'ttknow -- one particular company -- again it would seem that I would be involved with just one company. Would it then not be unfair on a lot of others, who felt, why should it be that one? You know what people are like -- endless argument and disagreement, controversy and bickering about it. And then if I got involved with trade union problems, one trade union would say: "How dare he say this." The problem is that at the back of it all there is the difficulty of the position that I actually happen to occupy, for better or worse, and that always looms over whatever else you are trying to do, I have discovered. I freely admit that I'm more a jack of all trades than I am a master of anything, and that's probably a bad thing. I find it very hard to know how, for instance, to concentrate on trying to help our export drive all over the world. If I did that, again wherever I go in the world I find, for better or for worse, people looking at me for what I represent, and for the fact that maybe I represent Britain rather than a particular group of industries. And I feel that it would embarrass a lot of people abroad if I went specifically to try and sell British things -- they would feel: "Do we say 'Yes, of course.' " because of whom I am. There is a very real problem in that sense, I think.
Q: Aside from the issues we've talked about, are there other areas beginning to attract more of your attention as you go on in life? I notice, for example, the emergence of the theme "smaller is better," "small is beautiful," in some of your recent speeches.
A: Very much yes. It's very interesting how, as an individual and as a character, you do develop. I'm so interested in how, five years ago for instance, the difference there has been in my outlook and the way, I suppose, one's mind matures -- it's rather encouraging in a sense. . . . Things that didn't mean very much to me five years ago, now mean a great deal more. Things I didn't understand five years ago now, suddenly, start to make sense. Yes, as far as the "small" aspect is concerned, I feel that we have concentrated too much in the last 10 or 20 years on the economy of scale and things being enormous, and therefore successful. I think all that happens is that the individual becomes submerged and you defeat the original purpose of the exercise. Surely the reason, I think, for our existence on this earth: to try and make the most of our human qualities and our human adaptability. We don't want, I don't think, to be run by machines or automated processes. Or computers, for that matter. We must harness them to work for us. Which leads me on to the other thing which I'm beginning to feel more and more strongly about, which is the more spiritual aspect of life -- it means much more to me now than it did. Five years ago I didn't appreciate nearly as much as I do now the writings of C. G. Jung, who I've found absolutely fascinating and very much an inspiration and a help to me in trying (to understand) the psychology of humanity, which after all, is really at the core of everything. (Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, 1875-1961, wrote extensively on the individual struggle to achieving a balance that involves four primary functions of the mind: thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition.) If we can but understand our own innermost workings, there is so much that we can then do to control, perhaps, some of the worst excesses of human beings, in terms of good and evil.
Q: In a speech at Cambridge, in 1979, you invoked the commencement address at Harvard by exiled Soviet author Alexander Solzhenitsyn, which was a very pessimistic view of the decline in Western values, and in our ability to deal with the challenges that totalitarian regimes present. Have you had a chance to think about that? Are you still taken with his views? Do you share that kind of pessimism?
A: I'm very taken with his views, yes. One of the people I long to meet most in life is Solzhenitsyn. I wonder if I might be able to. But yes, I do think he has a very pessimistic view -- I don't share entirely the pessimism. But at the same time, I do think that it's entirely expected from somebody who has lived the way he has, and suffered the way he has in an Eastern Bloc country where so much is taken away from you until you are left with just your own spirit, that's all. He obviously feels that the West is in danger of losing so much through being unaware of the depth of the human spirit. And the problem is, of course, how do we, in the West, ever become aware of the depth of our own spirit, and the fortitude which we can extract from that without being made to suffer -- the way he, and many others like him, suffered. There's a marvelous man called Mihajlo Mikhajlov who has written fascinating accounts of political imprisonment where suddenly you are thrown back on these astonishing inner resources which you never knew you had. Nothing else seems to matter in the world, he says. It seems to me that the danger in the West is that so much (has) overlaid the meaning of our existence that we have lost track of our point of being here. So much sophistication, so much technology, so much waste has made us blas,e and complacent, and unable to see where we ought to draw the line. What we ought to stand up for, what are our real beliefs. When do we say, "This far we will go, and no further," so to speak? Here we must protect the things we believe in. Our liberty, what is it based on? What things are really worth fighting for? It's very hard, this is the great problem, what do we fight for? It seems to me that we've got to the stage where we don't know where we ought to stand and fight. I think it is very difficult nowadays -- we get swept along in a tide of so-called progress. But at the same time lose touch with our own humanity. That is the thing that worries me terribly. Again, it's such a personal thing, I don't know if anybody listens to me or not. So much is an aspect of what's fashionable and what isn't. I'm very happy to be considered unfashionable, in anything, what I wear -- I don't care a damn frankly, because it's just the outside. Things do change and people do have different attitudes. I just feel that before long there will be a reappraisal of the things that matter, from within. Rather than only looking at things that affect us from without. I know I live in circumstances where material surroundings . . . (there is) nothing, obviously, to worry about. I don't suffer in that sense at all. I suffer from the constant battering that my conscience gets as to what I can try and do to help, if you know what I mean.
Q: To justify the existence and the comfort, et cetera?
A: My existence.
Q: Do you think that the way in which you were prepared for this role, which was different from that of most of your ancestors, was again part of an evolving 20th-century way of coping with problems? Do you think it was the best, in retrospect? It was a very public kind of preparation. You went to schools, you were in the navy, you did things, you traveled.
Q: Did it give you the access that you need?
A: I think it certainly gave me much more access than I would have had if I had been brought up in a more traditional way and hadn't been sent away to school, for instance. Then I would have been brought up in a much more secluded and cloistered way. Clearly from the 20th century, 21st century point of view, it would have been, I think probably, a bad thing. Yes, it would have been. The problem is that I was at a sort of transitional stage, when it hadn't been tried quite so much before. And I am what I am, I think, partly because of the way I was educated and the way in which I had to struggle -- it may sound silly, but I think I did have to struggle -- to show throughout the schools, the universities and the military services, that I was as good, if not better, than other people that I had to compete with, despite my position. And the fact that I did things with other people of my own age, from all walks of life -- they were from all walks of life, even though I went to a so-called privileged school -- the fact that I had to struggle like this has given me a different sort of outlook perhaps than some of my predecessors might have had. Purelyry where because I had to struggle. And therefore, I feel all the time that I must justify my existence, I must show some of these people that I can do some of these things as well, if not better. This is one of the things that keeps me going all the time I suppose, is that I can never, I believe, afford to sit back, and I never could in all the period that I was educated.
Q: I've seen attributed to you the belief that the proper role for the British royal family is as now practiced, say in contrast to those families that have attempted to reduce the regal surroundings and make themselves more common. Do you still feel that way? Do you think that the function you have described here is performed best in the way it's being performed now?
A: I don't know. I'm afraid I'm not really the one to tell. I just do it the way I feel I ought to. As I say, I'm feeling my way. Maybe you or other people are in a better position to tell me whether this is the right way or not. People are going to tell me one thing, some people are going to criticize and say it's ridiculous -- you are going too far -- one way or the other. Others are going to say marvelous, well done and splendid. What do you do? You just have to go on, don't you, doing what you think is right ultimately. Because there is endless gratuitous advice, I can assure you. From every single quarter. And every single thing you do is either criticized or praised. It is very difficult to know what the best way of approaching the latter part of the 20th century is. It's one of the reasons that I'm very hesitant to answer questions that people long to ask about how I see the monarchy in 25 years' time, because I don't know. Anyway it's hypothetical and also I'd look an awful idiot if I said -- do you know what I mean?
Q: This is one of the few (times), if not the only time, that you have addressed an American interviewer. Is there anything, given that opportunity, you have to say to Americans -- some message that you would wish particularly to convey? Anything that you would want them to know about you, and what you think, what you believe, and what you hope for these years ahead?
A: I don't know whether I have any specific message or not. I would hardly be so bold. . . . I have a somewhat low opinion of myself, I'm afraid, in that sense. I wouldn't dream of suggesting anything. But one of the things I would like to say is how fascinating it was to see the reaction over the South Atlantic crisis recently from America. It's terribly hard to know what most people think, but we were led to believe, in this country, that an enormous number of Americans felt that they somehow associated with this country, and supported us over something which was not easy to do particularly in this day and age, when it's so difficult to know what you are standing up for, really. Whether right or wrong, this country felt it was standing up for a basic series of principles. And it was so interesting and so encouraging. I thought it was really a warming feeling that other people, and particularly in America -- because I personally mind what Americans feel and think; I think the connections are so strong, inevitably through history and shared difficulties, et cetera -- it was wonderful to feel that we were supported and there was a great feeling -- gratitude, I think -- in this country, that we did have friends and people who understood the things that we felt mattered. This is the great thing as far as the future is concerned, that here obviously (there is) a great body of opinion in America which minds a great deal about things which still matter. And no matter what sometimes the media may say, what administrations may do, there are still a whole lot of marvelous human beings at the bottom of it all who have similar feelings, and mind about what happens. The difficulty, of course, is to get it all together, to allow so many of these things to bubble up to the surface, and influence those who have to do the day-to-day business of conducting affairs i where n the world. I think the great thing, of course, in America, and in Britain and in other countries is that we have systems where these feelings are able to bubble up. After all, the presidential system in theory enables anybody to become the president. It is the bubbling up. The great thing is we have this system which allows these feelings of decency and civilized approach to life to come through, whereas totalitarian states -- this is what I have most against them specifically -- prevent this happening. As a result, I believe, in these states -- where nobody is allowed to express their feelings, their anxieties, disagreement -- we increase the dangers to a peaceful and civilized existence in the world. What we ought to be aiming at, I think, is hammering away at trying to create a wider degree of democracy and participation by populations in these areas, in the affairs of their countries. I do believe that this sort of development would reduce the risk of wars and all the other horrors, and increased risk of holocaust that could come. I know it is not the only answer, but I do believe that it's one of them. We have to go on working at it. We have to listen to people like Solzhenitzyn and others who are constantly telling us of the dangers. If we don't, then I think we really are lost. But how do we learn from others, and from their experiences, without having to go through them ourselves? This is the constant human dilemma.