WHAT NOW FOR THE BRITISH MONARCHY? Rubin Rothler LLB, LLM

 The tributes for the Queen are unreservedly appropriate. She has been the Monarch whom the most people in the world can remember. 


She was certainly a symbolic young Matriarch of British redevelopment after WWII and the blitz. During times of political instability and upheaval, she remained a fixed figure, linking Britain with its imperial past and creating a sense of historical continuity. In the post-war era, she was the Monarch for nearly the entirety of the Cold War and saw the fall of Sovietism and the Iron Curtain.  She was the Queen for the baby boomer generation, who honored the Beatles with MBEs and was honored by the Beatles on behalf of their generation, with the final song of the final album they recorded.  Much can and will be said of Queen Elizabeth, who was widely loved and respected by nearly everyone as a gracious woman of dignity, who in her youth participated in the war efforts, doing menial but necessary tasks, even when the Luftwaffe  bombed Buckingham Palace. 
 
Historically, Britain rejected its Puritan experiment with Republicanism under Cromwell and vied popularly for the restoration of the monarchy with Charles II. But the dilemma facing Britain and the Commonwealth now is Charles III. He lacks the degree of trust and respect afforded to his mother. Holding to conventional British values, his mother took the title “Defender of the Faith”, meaning Christianity and the Church of England, (ironically a title first bequeathed by the Pope to Henry VIII in recognition of an apologetic book he authored, defending the tenets of Catholicism from Protestant critiques). Charles III, however, chooses to be a “Defender of Faith”, be it Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, or otherwise.  This will be a departure from the Judeo Christian heritage of the Nation that dates back to early post-Roman Britain. As titular head of the Church of England, he will occupy a ceremonial position that means absolutely nothing, given the Church of England’s numerical, theological and moral decline in a post-Christian Britain. Perhaps appropriately, the head of the Church of England ought therefore be a figure whose de facto Pantheism personifies that decline. Under his direction, the Duchy of Cornwell already dedicated Royal properties for mosque construction. 
 
While the monarchy will remain an important institution, unavoidable realities will plague its future. The death of Princess Diana removed the sense of glamour that she brought to the Crown. With the legacy of his mother, his father, and Lord Mountbatten gone, King Charles has no matriarchal or patriarchal figure standing next to him as Queen Elizabeth his mother did with the “Queen Mother ”. Moreover, in a pre-Brexit Britain, the monarchy had political capital as an institution representing British sovereignty and independence from an unelected Brussels bureaucracy. This was the final vestige of any real political importance for the monarchy other than ritual, pomp and ceremony, and of course tourism.
 
Charles III is often not seen as being particularly shrewd. In contravention of Royal convention, he has frequently aired his political views . The scandal involving Prince Andrew and the exploits of Harry and Meaghan have further degraded the monarchy. Britain has a history of bad Kings, as well as good ones, that nearly parallels the history of the Old Testament Kings of Israel and Judah. Britain recovered from the tarnished monarchy of James I (and James VI of Scotland), and some would also say the Hanoverian George III. But these monarchies inflicted a cost, including the loss of the American Colonies. But these interruptions were followed by the Victorian and Edwardian periods of a royal British renaissance. Charles III will most likely be an unremarkable Monarch, and he will probably not be able to establish a viable function for the monarchy in a changing world. It is providential, and not coincidental, that a new Prime Minister and concurrently a new Monarch have come into play in the same week. Protocol demands that the Nation sings God Save the King. There is a vacuum that without divine intervention King Charles will not be able to fulfil.

 

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