This weekend we will witness a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle: the coronation of a king. A six-gun salute will be fired from Horse Guards Parade to mark the exact moment the crown touches the monarch’s head and the UK will be alive with colour and noise. But behind the pomp and ceremony Great Britain is renowned for, there are unanswered questions over how King Charles will conduct his reign.

Stephie Denton

Stephie Denton

The new monarch has been known for his strong personal views on architecture, planning and sustainability. As Prince of Wales, he campaigned passionately for classical design principles and the sensitive reuse of historical assets. The developments of Poundbury and Nansledan, two new towns created on

the estate of the Duchy of Cornwall with input from the King, were not welcomed by the architect community, but proved popular with residents.

He has also been a vocal and effective opponent of some modernist developments – his impact on the 1984 National Gallery extension being toned down to a more classicist design is a good example.

But more recently, his focus, like that of so many people, has been on the environment, telling the COP26 conference in Glasgow that climate change and biodiversity posed an “existential threat” and claiming that to tackle them we might put ourselves on a “war-like footing”.

Who knows if such sentiments played a part in housing secretary Michael Gove’s recent decision to delay his ruling over the proposed demolition of Oxford Street’s Marks & Spencer flagship store until July? M&S plans to demolish the building and replace it with a 10-floor retail and office block. However, SAVE Britain’s Heritage is arguing that this is not consistent with the UK’s commitment to become a carbon-neutral economy.

Gove hasn’t been shy about making decisions and sending letters to date in his most recent tenure, so one must wonder why this decision is causing a pause.

Presumably our new sovereign would be a supporter of calls on the government earlier this year by National Trust, Peabody, Historic England, The Crown Estate and Grosvenor to create a national strategy to provide the skills to unlock the £35bn-a-year economic potential of retrofitting the UK’s historic buildings. Not doing so, the bodies argued, would lead to a backlog of retrofit projects in the 2030s and risk losing some of our cultural heritage.

In addition, chancellor Jeremy Hunt has been accused of missing the opportunity to introduce tax incentives for reducing embodied carbon in retrofit and refurbishment projects in this year’s spring Budget.

Retrofits are a very hot topic of debate and discussion and the environment is likely to be the biggest area of contention for the property industry as it continues to face the challenges of fulfilling human needs and connecting communities in harmony with our planet.

King Charles has made it clear he will stop making public statements on architecture, planning and environmental issues, and many in the sector may welcome that so they can get on with building and business. However, others may hope that instead he exercises his well-known inclination to interfere, perhaps in his weekly audience with the prime minister, safeguarding his realm by guiding policies to get us to net zero sooner rather than later.