King Charles now rules a monarchy that may need to change

The flood of sad memories and adoring tributes for the late Elizabeth II recognizes her cross-generational influence both as a woman and as a queen.

But the respect and love that has engendered her as an international figure does not necessarily extend to the monarchy itself, an institution that costs a fortune to maintain and which embodies a bevy of mysterious and bewildering traditions that help define Britain, but which often appear anachronistic.

A rising tide of anti-royal sentiment is pushing a British throne without Elizabeth into unsafe territory, especially when her successor happens to be her less popular, long-time socially awkward son, Charles.

Royal observers say the situation is raising questions about the future of the monarchy and how or if it can continue to maintain sovereign rule. At the very least, they say, Charles must streamline an organization that controls a large number of estates, castles, and treasures. And as Britain grapples with high inflation and other economic woes, extended family members must be seen as paying their own way, analysts say.

In addition, the new king will face growing demands from the descendants of the British colonizers, who demand justice, apologies and reparations for the brutality of British settlers and the enslavement of untold thousands of blacks and others.

“We need to separate the great support and love for the Queen from the much lesser support for the monarchy,” said Pauline Maclaran, professor of consumer research at Royal Holloway, University of London.

“The family has to deal with this like a brand change,” she added. “If Charles becomes the only face of the monarchy, he will not get the support he needs. So they will bring [Charles’ son] William and Kate are increasingly coming to the fore, as are the young royals, e.g [their son] George.”

King Charles III appeared to be doing just that in his first address to the nation on Friday.

Speaking from Buckingham Palace, Charles did his best to brush up on his ties with the more popular members of the royal family: his mother, of course, but also Prince William and his wife Kate, who were dubbed the Duke and Duchess of Wales. They are the parents of George, Charlotte and Louis.

And then Charles expressed his love for his other son Harry and fellow American actress Meghan Markle “who are building their lives abroad.”

His comment was perhaps surprising given that the couple eschewed royal tradition by giving up their official roles and relocating to California in 2020, only to tell Oprah Winfrey about the racist treatment Meghan, who is black, had experienced in royal circles . Family relations have been strained ever since, and Charles’s reference to it may have been an offer of reconciliation.

The British monarchy is an institution that has existed in one form or another for more than a millennium, weathering devastating wars and tectonic political changes. It evolves.

The second Elizabethan era saw money and sex scandals and regular public questioning about their usefulness and raison d’être. More recently, the royal institution has survived by adapting, shifting and staying relevant – sometimes more successfully than at other times (example: the debacle in dealing with the shocking death of Charles’ first wife, the popular Princess Diana).

Elizabeth’s greatest achievement was continually justifying the monarchy, using it to embody the values ​​Britons cherished and wanted to believe in – stoicism, dignity, service – and then reflecting on them, said Katie Hindmarch- Watson, a historian at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC

Whether Charles can recreate the “imaginative and ambitious character” of the monarchy that secured Elizabeth is an open question, Hindmarch-Watson said.

“Will it work in 2020 like it did in 1953? Will it pull off that magic trick of turning Charles into a national figure and mascot of values?” she said. “Or will it highlight the artistry of monarchy, its oddness in modern society in a supposed democracy?”

Charles may be able to win over some younger voters with his commitment to raising climate change awareness. And his sons may have the best grasp of social media and public expectations the Palace has ever seen.

Nevertheless, the Royals are facing growing challenges at home and abroad.

On the one hand, the family and its working members are involved in a variety of charitable causes, with Charles expecting to increase his ongoing focus on climate change. At the same time, the image of an aristocratic clan traveling the world living in palaces and castles collides with that of the everyday Briton struggling with skyrocketing energy costs and inflation that has brought the nation to the brink of recession.

It’s difficult to say exactly how much the royal family is costing the British public. The palace says every Brit pays about a pound a year (about $1.16) to maintain the monarchy, totaling about $80 million per year. But anti-royalists insist the annual cost is five times that. A 2015 analysis by Reuters put the family’s fortune at nearly $35 billion.

Polls before Elizabeth’s death showed support for the monarchy remains, but those who advocate abolishing it and replacing it with a republic believe they may stand a chance with the rise of Charles.

“I’ve never liked the monarchy,” said Graham Wilson, a 48-year-old technician, on his daily commute to central London on Friday. “Honestly, I’m just wondering how many holidays we’re going to get from this. Mourn for her if you want, or don’t mourn for her. She had a lot of fans, that’s very true. I don’t think Charles has that many.”

Everton Brown, who was waiting for a train going the opposite direction to meet friends out of town, said it was an “unusual” moment for his family. A proud Londoner, he said he feels “a little affection” for the royals for their constant presence in British life. But as a man of Jamaican descent whose parents immigrated to Britain in the 1960s, Brown said the queen represented a “wrong time in history,” a nod to imperial Britain.

“She was the Queen of Jamaica until she died and now her son is the King of Jamaica,” said Brown, 36, speaking of one of the 14 Commonwealth nations officially headed by the British monarch, including Australia and Canada. “I don’t think that’s logical. This monarchy system must end or change somehow.”

Outside the UK, too, sentiment is gaining momentum.

Last year, Barbados decided to ditch the Queen as head of state. Jamaica is considering taking the same step. A trip by William and Kate to the Caribbean in March should encourage royal support. Instead, it did the opposite, as critics attacked photos of the couple shaking hands through a wire fence in Jamaica.

The President of Barbados underscored the division, albeit diplomatically, after Elizabeth’s death.

When Barbados “made the decision to complete the course of independence,” it broke “constitutional ties with the British monarchy” and will create “the newest republic in the world,” said President Sandra Mason. “Significant as this decision was, given the place Barbados has occupied in the British Empire for centuries, it has not in the least affected the friendship between our two nations, or even with Buckingham Palace.”

In Australia and Canada, too, movements have emerged over the years that wanted to depose the monarch as head of state, but failed. In Canada, the constitution would have to be changed. Australia’s Green Party leader Adam Bandt tweeted on Thursday that Elizabeth’s death is the moment the nation must change its relationship with Britain.

“Our thoughts are with her family and everyone who loved her,” Bandt wrote. “Now Australia has to move forward. We need a treaty with the indigenous people and we need to become a republic.”

Kaleem reported from London and Wilkinson from Washington. King Charles now rules a monarchy that may need to change

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