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King Charles's Ukraine statement shows how he's different to Queen

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 8: King Charles III holds an audience with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Buckingham Palace during his first visit to the UK since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 8, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Aaron Chown - Pool/Getty Images)
In February Charles expressed his personal support for Ukrainians to President Zelensky during a private audience at Buckingham Palace. (Getty Images)

King Charles has released a strong and politicised statement in support of Ukraine as the country's conflict with Russia reaches the one-year mark.

The new monarch called Russia's actions "an unprovoked full-scale attack" and praised the "remarkable courage and resilience" of Ukrainians. He also noted that during his meeting last month with President Zelensky he took the opportunity to "express his personal support for the people of Ukraine".

The King concluded his statement (which you can read in full at the bottom of this article) by saying: "I can only hope the outpouring of solidarity from across the globe may bring not only practical aid, but also strength from the knowledge that, together, we stand united."

Charles's comments are in stark contrast to his mother's much softer tone when she released a statement regarding the invasion in August 2022.

Britain's Catherine, Princess of Wales (L) speaks with First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska (L) during a meeting at Buckingham Palace on September 18, 2022. - Britain was gearing up Sunday for the momentous state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II as King Charles III prepared to host world leaders and as mourners queued for the final 24 hours left to view her coffin, lying in state in Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster. (Photo by Kirsty O'Connor / POOL / AFP) (Photo by KIRSTY O'CONNOR/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, met with Kate and paid her respects during Queen Elizabeth's lying in state at Westminster Hall in September 2022. (Getty Images)

Marking Ukraine's independence day, the late Queen wrote to Zelensky expressing hope for "better times in the future", adding: "It gives me great pleasure to send Your Excellency and the people of Ukraine my warmest greetings on the celebration of your Independence Day.

"In this most challenging year, I hope that today will be a time for the Ukrainian people, both in Ukraine and around the world, to celebrate their culture, history and identity."

This light touch was something the former monarch was well-versed in: while noting the "challenging" time the country was experiencing and hope that the country's circumstances would improve she diplomatically sent a message of support, without being drawn into taking a political stand.

This isn't the first time Charles has dipped his toe into the political sphere since becoming King; during his first Christmas message as monarch he referenced the cost-of-living crisis, which was deemed by some as too political.

The accusation of refusing to remain politically neutral has been levied at Charles for many years while he was Prince of Wales. In 2018 he responded to this by saying that he understood the roles of the heir and the sovereign to be different and that he would be required to express fewer opinions when the time came for him to take the throne.

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Previously unissued photo dated 13/12/22 of King Charles III during the recording of his first Christmas broadcast in the Quire of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, Berkshire. Issue date: Friday December 23, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story ROYAL King. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
During his first Christmas message as monarch, Charles addressed the cost of living crisis, which was deemed by some as verging on political. (Getty Images)

One issue that the new King faces is the longevity of his term as Prince of Wales - the public is well-versed in many of his opinions that he was freer to express as heir.

The late Queen took the throne when she was only 25, which meant that the public's perception of her political beliefs was much more of a blank canvas.

The nature of the role of constitutional monarch requires total political neutrality, and while many will react positively to this strong statement in support of Ukraine, Charles may not be so lucky next time he steps into what can be deemed the political arena.

Queen Elizabeth made gentle neutrality look easy, but her son is unused to publicly holding back the way she spent most of her adult life doing.

Charles has begun his reign more forcefully and it remains to be seen how much this could potentially damage the institution of monarchy itself.

The King's statement in full (24 February, 2023)

It has now been a year that the people of Ukraine have suffered unimaginably from an unprovoked full-scale attack on their nation. They have shown truly remarkable courage and resilience in the face of such human tragedy.

The world has watched in horror at all the unnecessary suffering inflicted upon Ukrainians, many of whom I have had the great pleasure of meeting here in the U.K. and, indeed, across the world, from Romania to Canada.

Earlier this month I met President Zelenskyy at Buckingham Palace to express my personal support for the people of Ukraine. It is heartening that the United Kingdom, along with its allies, is doing everything possible to help at this most difficult time.

Therefore, I can only hope the outpouring of solidarity from across the globe may bring not only practical aid, but also strength from the knowledge that, together, we stand united.

Queen Elizabeth's statement in full (24 August, 2022)

“It gives me great pleasure to send Your Excellency and the people of Ukraine my warmest greetings on the celebration of your Independence Day.

“In this most challenging year, I hope that today will be a time for the Ukrainian people, both in Ukraine and around the world, to celebrate their culture, history and identity.

“May we look to better times in the future. Elizabeth R”

Watch: Did Prince Charles really want the Queen to abdicate?