'End of an era': With Prince Philip's death, the role of a modern monarchy comes into focus

LONDON – Prince Philip’s death marks more than the death of Queen Elizabeth II’s husband – it is a reminder that her nearly 70-year reign, the longest in British history, is in its final stages.

Experts say the transition to the next generation is an unstable time as their children and grandchildren step up their royal duties, which could cast doubt on the value of the monarchy in today’s world.

“This is the end of an era and it could challenge the leadership of the monarchy and broader questions about the role of the monarchy in 21st century Britain,” said David McClure, author of The Queen’s True Worth: Unraveling the Public & Private Queen Elizabeth II finances “

“The death of Prince Philip will have an impact on people rethinking the value of the monarchy in the life of Britain and as a political institution,” he said.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh wave to the crowd after Elizabeth was crowned at Westminster Abbey in London on June 2, 1953.AFP – Getty Images file

In Britain, the Queen plays a formal role as head of state, head of the Church of England and head of the armed forces, as well as a powerful symbol. In a speech, the government’s priorities are formally set out at the beginning of the parliamentary year. Signing of the legislation.

Britain isn’t the only place it’s head of state. She is also Queen of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and several island states, as well as the head of the Commonwealth, an association of 54 countries, almost all of which were once under British rule.

It is in these places that the transition to the next generation will raise the most questions, said historian Sarah Gristwood.

“The British monarchy will always be most vulnerable in the years to come, not in Britain but in the Commonwealth or in other states that currently have the Queen as head of state but may not want to do so forever,” Gristwood said. Author of “Elizabeth: The Queen and the Crown.”

Queen Elizabeth II sits at a desk in Room 1844 at Buckingham Palace in Londaon after she began her Christmas Day broadcast in 2017.John Stillwell / Getty Images File

The day after Philip passed away on Friday at the age of 99, the couple’s firstborn Prince Charles made two references to the Commonwealth in his short speech in which he remembered his father. It wasn’t a coincidence, said Gristwood.

Support for the monarchy as an institution in the UK remains high, according to a December poll by YouGov. More than 60 percent of respondents believe that Britain should have a monarchy in the future. Only 25 percent said it should have an elected head of state.

In Australia, however, longtime critics of the monarchy view the transition to the next monarch as a time to sever ties.

“Now that the Queen’s reign is over, it’s time to say, ‘OK, we’ve passed this watershed,” said former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who campaigned to remove the British monarch as head of state in the country, said Australian Broadcasting Corp. in March, “Do we really want anyone who happens to be the Head of State, King or Queen of the United Kingdom to automatically be our Head of State?”

In the Caribbean island nation of Barbados, where the Queen is also head of state, the governor general said on behalf of the government that “the time has come to leave our colonial past completely behind” and that “Barbadians want it” a Barbadian head of state. “

In the UK, despite the royals’ high polls, critics are convinced that the institution’s succession will bring increased resistance.

“When people think of the monarchy, they think of the Queen or Philip and the connection back to the past, the war and so on,” said Graham Smith, executive director of the Republic, an anti-monarchy campaign group. “Charles will inherit the throne, but he will not inherit the reverence or respect that his mother has.”

Members of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London watch a Royal Air Force flyby during Trooping the Color, the Queen’s annual birthday parade, on June 8, 2019.Chris Jackson / Getty Images File

That has not escaped the attention of the royals. You are aware of the dangers of the transition and are already planning to do so, said royal expert Daisy McAndrew.

“One of the first things planned ‘when Charles takes over’ is a 100-day tour of the UK that covers the whole country. They will try to generate a buzz for the accepted new monarch,” she said. “This will be a crucial moment for Prince Charles to bring the country behind him.”

By the time the Queen has aged, Charles has already taken on many of her duties, including trips abroad. His wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince William and his wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, have also taken on additional responsibilities.

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However, polls show that Charles’ popularity is nowhere near that of the Queen. According to a December YouGov poll of who should take over the queen, 32 percent of those polled named Charles; 40 percent said William.

On a practical level, it may not matter. No British political party supports the abolition of the monarchy, said Antony Taylor, a modern British historian at Sheffield Hallam University.

“Without a political party committed to reforming or removing the head of state, I see no way to make change,” said Taylor, who studies republicanism.

That may change, however, as younger generations come of age with no memory of the role of the royal family in keeping the nation’s mood during World War II.

“Things are very fluid for them, and maybe a fluid situation gives them the opportunity to think the unthinkable,” he said.

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