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The British monarchy; past, present and future
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|The British monarchy; past, present and future by Kenyans247(1): Mon 26, October, 2020 02:26pm|
What you need to know:
Prince Harry married an American divorcee and of mixed parentage to boot.
Prince Charles was in love with Camilla Parker-Bowles and was initially not allowed to marry her because she was a divorcee.
I know I am treading on sacred ground and whatever I say will be held as evidence against me.
The British people are evenly divided on the topic of monarchy, but those who are against it don’t cry from housetops to express their views – they keep mum or simply ignore it. This is because they are either not bothered or they shy away from expressing their views.
When I was a secondary school student in India in 1942, I read in my history books about James the First and how he equated the King with God. He repeatedly said, “No King, no God!”
British monarchy has come down a few pegs since those days. Now the monarchy reigns but does not rule! The Crown has been reduced to constitutional monarchy, where the royal family members are ‘servants of the people’ and draw a salary for their services.
In my lifetime, I have witnessed the British throne rocked twice, once when Edward the Eighth abdicated and again when Princess Diana was chased by paparazzi in Paris and died in a car crash.
In the case of Edward, the problem was that he intended to marry an American divorcee. In those days a divorce was anathema in Britain, certainly in the royal family, and therefore Edward was not allowed to follow his heart.
Although many formulae were devised, none was acceptable to all parties. Since then, the royal family and the British people have modified their stand on divorce.
Prince Harry married an American divorcee and of mixed parentage to boot. Those in favour of monarchy claim that the Royal family has moved with the times. Nevertheless, King Edward must be turning in his grave wondering how times have changed.
Heir to the throne
In the case of the Princess, the issues were vastly different. Prince Charles was in love with Camilla Parker-Bowles and was initially not allowed to marry her because she was a divorcee. He reportedly married Diana to produce an heir to the throne.
The Princess made it obvious from day one that she could not be suffocated by protocol of the palace and she suspected that Camilla was tugging at the heart-strings of Prince Charles even after he was married to her.
I read Andrew Morton’s book where he depicted Diana’s side of her story, written with the help of dramatic recordings. It was equally painful to watch Diana’s interview with Bashir, when she candidly announced that her marriage was overcrowded and there were three persons in it.
In life, if Diana constantly threatened the monarchy, in death, she certainly shook it. From what I have read, the Queen had to be coaxed by her prime minister, Tony Blair, to come to London and order flags to be flown half-mast on Government buildings, including the Buckingham Palace. There was a picture of the Queen on the television in the news, seeing the many wreaths outside Diana’s official residence in London.
Even Prince Charles flew to Paris to escort his wife’s body. The scenes at her burial were very touching, highlighted by a speech delivered by Earl Spencer, Diana’s brother as eulogy. The song ‘Candle in the wind’ sang by Sir Elton John was a testimony to the tragedy that befell the nation at losing their ‘Queen of Hearts’.
It is obvious that the Palace has a strong Public Relations campaign to promote itself. At any one time, there are a couple of films on TV featuring members of the royal family. Even documentaries which depict the royal family in a poor light are allowed on the screen; the idea is to constantly remain in the public eye and not lose the limelight.
In news bulletins on BBC and ITV, the two main channels, at the end there is an item about the royal family, however insignificant the news value. That might be the one reason why the family is popular in foreign countries, especially in the US – by all accounts, Americans are mad about it.
Ate humble pie
What about the future? My feeling is that it will last, though in a vastly amended form. Here I must give complements to the present Queen. Despite the tempestuous period during her reign, mainly caused by divorces galore among her own children, she has kept the ship afloat. She ate humble pie when her throne was buffeted by the repercussions caused by Diana’s death.
She has kept the promise she made at her coronation of devoting her life, however long or short, to serving her people. Instead of abdicating due to age-related infirmity, she delegates and is lucky to have so many hands to help her. She is also a shrewd woman to have put Charles firmly in the saddle to succeed her.
She manipulated astutely so that her heir-apparent married the woman who had won his heart, making her more acceptable to her people. I watched her with an author’s interest when she secured the position of head of the Commonwealth for Charles as her successor. As I said before, monarchy will survive in Britain.
Certainly, we will not witness what happened to the Czar in Russia or the guillotines as seen on the streets of Paris simply because the British are peace-loving, love traditions, pomp and pageantry, and don’t like revolutions; if anything, they prefer an evolutionary process.
The pomp and pageantry will also stay with the royal family because people, both local and overseas, love it. In all other respects, they will be like the royal families in Holland and the Scandinavian countries. I still remember seeing the picture of Queen Wilhelmina riding a bicycle in the ‘Times of India’ when I was a medical student in India.
Prince William, successor to the British throne after Prince Charles, and his wife Kate are already working in that mode.
The instinct of survival, supreme in all animals including homo-sapiens, will make sure of that because there is no appetite for unelected hereditary reign any more.
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