King Charles III Should Follow “in the footsteps of his mother”: South African Cardinal

King Charles delivering a speech in Bridgetown, after Barbados became a republic, November 2021. Credit: Public Domain

The Cardinal in South Africa has underlined the need for new King of the United Kingdom to follow in the footsteps of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who passed on September 8.

In an interview with ACI Africa, Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier said, in reference to King Charles III, who ascended to the throne following the demise of the Queen ,“If he follows in the footsteps of his mother as much as he can in regard to the practice and the living out of one’s faith, I think that would be the first thing that is of importance.”

“He's an elderly man by now; he is not that young. So, I don't think one would expect him to change course very much from what he's already been doing,” said Cardinal Napier in the Tuesday, September 13 interview.

The Cardinal who is the Apostolic Administrator of South Africa’s Catholic Diocese of Eshowe further said that King Charles III should take a leaf from Queen Elizabeth II who knew how to draw the line between her role as a Monarch and the role that the government had to play as the political authority in the land at the time.

The Archbishop emeritus of Durban Archdiocese in South Africa explained, “I would advise King Charles III to follow that line of his mother because if the king gets too directly involved, then I believe it blurs the role that that he has to play not just as King of the British nation but also as head of the Commonwealth, an association of 56 independent countries and 2.4 billion people.”


As of the war in Ukraine and terrorism in some African countries, Cardinal Napier said that King Charles III “would need to make sure that he plays a role that is facilitating the building of peace, the elimination of violence and terrorism”, adding, “I would certainly pray that’s the direction he would take.”

In the September 13 interview, the 81-year-old Cardinal lauded King Charles III's commitment in raising awareness about climate change and the need to care for the environment.

He said, “I think that King Charles III is going to be a front runner in that kind of activity. And I really encourage him to do so, because the way things are going on in the world presently…we need somebody who's going to take a high moral ground regarding conservation of nature and the environment and so on.”

The death of the 96-year-old longest serving monarch in Britain has reportedly sparked controversy among some members of the Commonwealth realm including South Africa.

Commenting on the reported controversy, Cardinal Napier said, “I think in South Africa, we have to learn that history has to be seen as something that happened in the past.”

More in Africa

“You can't unmake it, but it's also a good lesson for us; what mistakes we should not make going into the present and in going into the future. And that, I believe, is where we should put our energy. Not so much in blaming anybody,” said Cardinal Napier.

He added, “A lot of people are yelling, blaming the Queen,” saying ‘she should return the diamonds, she should do this, she should have done that and what have you’. But that's history. That's the past and we can't undo that. And I don't think even God is trying to undo it because there are lessons for us to learn there. And that’s how we should be dealing with history.”

“So going into the future with King Charles III leading the British nation, I think he would be well advised to follow his mother's example and also to work for peace and understanding”, the Cardinal who started his Episcopal Ministry in February 1981 as Bishop of Kokstad in South Africa said.

He further said, “One of the greater achievements I believe Queen Elizabeth II made was when she visited Ireland and how after so many years in which the Irish were terribly persecuted by the British, she was able to win over so many people by her very simple presence, her motherly touch, her very human approach to the people that she was meeting in Ireland.”

“I Hope King Charles III is going to be able to carry some of that charism forward in his own life,” said Cardinal Napier in the September 13 interview with ACI Africa.


Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.