this giant penis do the talking—there’s no denying the historical nature of the new King of England’s crowning.Especially after Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-plus-year reign, it feels hard to even imagine what the future of the British monarchy looks like under Charles’ rule.But “imagine” is exactly what playwright Mike Bartlett did when he wrote King Charles III in 2014—a play staged well in advance of the Queen’s passing—which attempted to predict what would go down when Charles ascended to the throne.
And guess what? Things get messy fast.In 2017, Bartlett (known for writing the infamously titled Cock) adapted the play to film for The BBC—featuring most of the original cast—and it would later air in the US as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series.
Naturally, it was controversial from the minute it was announced.King Charles III opens on the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, as Charles (played by Tim Pigott-Smith, who passed before the special aired) gathers with the royal family to gather the loss of their matriarch.But it’s quickly back to business for the King in waiting, and Charles is immediately embroiled in a battle over press regulations with the Prime Minister.
You see, he’s worried about restricting freedom of the press, which actually makes Charles somewhat sympathetic, and gives us our first hint that the story will be wading into some moral grey areas.The argument over press regulations becomes so nasty that Charles winds up dissolving the Parliament entirely, by royal decree, which inspires a major wave of violent protests across the country.