Maxim Behar: I hope that King Charles III will have a warm attitude towards Bulgaria
In the studio of NOVA TV, the PR expert Maxim Behar shared his views on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. In an interview with Lora Indzhovska on TV's Morning Block, Behar talked about his experience with King Charles III, his meetings with him and what's next from now on.
Host: Good morning! Maxim Behar is already with me. I introduced him to you as one of the leading PR experts. Hello, I’m glad you're here! I hope that in this part of our broadcast we will give Queen Elizabeth II the time she deserves. Yes, the whole world is grieving, we've read other popular comments and we'll get to them. Before that, I suggest we look specifically at Britain. One of our correspondents, Polly Trifonova, is there to tell us about the reactions in the last few hours. Mr. Behar, is an era really gone?
Maxim: A world leader is gone, not just a world leader, but THE world leader. A leader who radiated wisdom, kindness and all that can be said about a person of that age, who ruled an empire, made Britain an even greater world power, and of course created The Commonwealth - the countries that are under the British Empire. It would be hard to say anything other than what everyone is sharing. An outstanding leader. Yes, it really showed the human face of the monarchy, but all modern monarchies have a human face in the end - in Spain, and in Belgium, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries.
Host: From now on, how hard will it be for King Charles III? What do you see as the starting picture and everything that lies ahead from here?
Maxim: The world is a very difficult puzzle right now. The role of Britain and the place of Britain is extremely sensitive, mainly because Britain has left the European Union and there is a global crisis. I do not believe that King Charles III will have any difficulty in ruling Great Britain. Firstly, more or less the monarch in Britain has a slightly more limited role that is not so much related to executive power, and secondly, we all know that after all, 73-year-old King Charles III is the oldest monarch to ascend on the throne, and that means he's been preparing all these years to be king, and he's supposed to have a very good training. This is the first British monarch who has been to Bulgaria, he came twice. You know very well that the second time was at my invitation, and we had a very good few days together. I have very good impressions of our meetings at Buckingham Palace as well as at St. James's Palace. We have been exchanging letters as the 20th anniversary of this second visit approaches. By the way, Queen Elizabeth is an unfulfilled dream of mine, because after Prince Charles was in Bulgaria during a dinner, I told him that the next step should be for his mother – Queen Elizabeth to come to Bulgaria. He said, "Try it!". I have a thick folder of correspondence exchanged with her private secretary with constant requests and proposals for her to visit Bulgaria, but she was already of age, and it was not possible. Bulgaria is a country that was not part of the British Empire and there is no special interest for the Queen to come here, except that her cousin Simeon II was Prime Minister and continues to be in Bulgaria.
Host: I want to ask you, because we talk a lot about the figure, the presence, the personality of Queen Elizabeth, to take you back to King Charles III. What kind of person is he? What is your impression? You have had the opportunity to see him in person, he is the future of Britain at the moment. The monarchy is in his hands.
Maxim: A very ordinary person. I have said that in gestures and in the way he speaks he reminds me a lot of our Tsar. The way he expresses himself, even the intonation. At the same time, he is a person who is very interested in the little things. I remember one luncheon with him at St. James's Palace. I had to leave all the things I had in my pockets, and when I was leaving, he said, "I will walk you on the way out." At that time, I had a very small modern Nokia phone that I had left in my closet, we were working for this company then and we took care of all the communications. They had given me a test model which is currently sitting in the office. This model wasn't out yet and when the guy took out all my stuff, he suddenly said "Can I see this phone? What model is it? Where did you get it from?” He started looking at it and said "Ah, that's very interesting, that's wonderful!". I was very surprised that Prince Charles could even be interested in a phone model. I also have, of course, many other interesting encounters with him. But at the end of that same lunch, he said to me "Sir, I have a present for you" and I replied, "Your Highness, thank you very much!". I was sure he would give me either a teacup or a book about Buckingham. He told me “In the next room I have invited some very big British businessmen and you have 15 minutes to sell your country Bulgaria, to explain to them what it is". And there were really 6 or 7 people who were standing on armchairs, smoking cigars, drinking cognac, and waiting. I told them about Bulgaria. This was very kind of Him, for He had thought of a man coming from a small country, though the gesture was also to Tsar Simeon, who then ruled Bulgaria. Charles is a very good, very level-headed man and the fact that he had a lot of stories with the extramarital affair and the whole affair with Diana…
Host: I was wondering in what delicate way to approach this topic. And in this sense, will it be easy for him to be trusted by the people?
Maxim: A human story. There is nothing easy in this world. Even if those stories weren't there. Even if he were the most righteous man to marry a woman and have children and be a good father and be a wonderful image, taking the crown and be the formal and not-so-formal ruler of a country, a former imperial power, it can't be easy for anyone. More so in these conditions. That the Queen's children have had so many personal troubles is not so surprising, because these are people, the world is very open at the moment. Nobody wants, not even in their worst nightmares, to be targeted by the British tabloids, who are fierce as journalists, as headlines, as paparazzi photos. That's okay. It is very important now that King Charles III sends messages to the British - the kind they would like to hear. That the problems with the crisis will be solved very quickly, that there will be peace in the country and that it will develop further. But in taking on this role, he is really taking on the governance of the Commonwealth of Nations in the world. That's a lot of countries. You know my wonderful relations with the Republic of Seychelles, also a member of the British Commonwealth. Today, flags in Victoria are lowered to half-mast and in all other major countries - Canada, Australia, where the formal head of state will be Charles.
Host: Let's finish with Queen Elizabeth. There were comments to not romanticize Elizabeth II's stay in the monarchy, the New York Times came out with this position and were attacked as a media for that. What do you think about all this, which was recalled after the announcement of the end of the queen? Are we left with a sense that something wasn't quite right, starting with Diana's death to Meghan and Harry? They left. We never saw Queen Elizabeth to shed a tear. Purely emotionally, she has always been withdrawn.
Maxim: Everyone has the right to an opinion, everyone has the right to see the good sides and failures, and the not-so-great successes. The difference between the royal family and any other British family is that the royal family is always under the spotlight, under the public eye. Everything that happens there is interpreted in a million different ways, especially in the British press. It's important to me that when you draw the line, the pros outweigh the cons. This has been my principle in life, and I think that the attitude towards the late Queen, and towards every single fact or person, should be the same. Apart from the fact that the Queen is the longest-reigning monarch, she has undoubtedly left an extremely large mark on British history.
Host: Thank you! Interesting data that I have come across that on 09/09/2015, Queen Elizabeth surpassed her great-grandmother Queen Victoria's time on the throne to become the longest-reigning monarch.
Maxim: It's a statistic. Anyone who wants to get to know the Queen needs to go back in history and watch movies, listen to a few of her speeches and it will be clear to them. Rest in peace! And let us hope that King Charles will have an extremely heartfelt, positive and friendly attitude towards Bulgaria, a country he has visited twice.
Watch the whole interview here.