As Elizabeth II passed away, the question of our relationship with the monarchy and the new king became a topic of national discussion. As a journalist, I traveled around the country to explore this question. Growing up in southwest Scotland, I did not have much of a relationship with the monarchy, and I did not think about them much. However, I was aware of their existence, and I remembered watching the Queen’s Christmas message in the kids’ room.
While as an adult and a journalist, I have reported on “royal events,” I did not actively think about the Royal Family and its members, its institutions and practices until I spent a month on the road thinking about little else. Some people, like Graham Smith, chief executive of the anti-monarchy campaign group Republic, have always been opposed to the monarchy, considering it inappropriate in a democratic society.
However, the majority of those who spoke to me around the country were far more positive about the monarchy as an institution. The level of affection for the Queen was not a surprise, but the level of affection for Charles and Camilla was. Many people spoke of feeling a personal connection to both King and crown.
Positive Views on Charles and Camilla
Even self-proclaimed republican Kathy Lette, who has known them both for years, has not a bad word to say about them. She finds Prince Charles charming and prescient on environmental issues. Many people feel a personal connection to both King and crown, and the outpouring of sympathy and emotion towards Charles, both in the immediate aftermath of his mother’s death and on every public appearance since, is unmissable.
For instance, the residents of Nansleden, Charles’s pet housing project in Cornwall, truly love living there. Similarly, Charles’s saving of Dumfries House has been warmly welcomed by locals. While some people have concerns about the Duchy of Cornwall’s relationship with the Isles of Scilly and the monarchy’s ability to intervene in law-making that directly affects their financial interests, there remains a majority in favour of the institution persisting.
The Growing Discomfort with the Monarchy
Despite the majority’s support for the monarchy, many people feel that the privilege of being royal, of being King, is of a different order. The number of people for whom that privilege sits uneasily is growing and growing rapidly. Kehinde Andrews, Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, dislikes both the institution and its figureheads, finding it entirely unreasonable to justify this almost exclusively white family.
Furthermore, he argues that this family being the representative not just of Britain but of 13 other countries that are almost exclusively black and brown puts whiteness on a pedestal. Therefore, if we are serious about it, we have to say we have to abandon this role.
As the country begins a proper conversation about the future of the monarchy, it is clear that there remains a majority in favour of the institution persisting. As for me, I never quite got around to answering that question for myself. The privilege of being a broadcast journalist is never having to make your mind up on a topic – publicly, at least.
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