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The man who would be king

September 8, 2022

No, not the Sean Connery/Michael Caine film. This guy.

I was up stupidly late last night, so heard the news that Queen Elizabeth II appeared to be on death’s door. (Apparently even she couldn’t take the idea of Liz Truss as PM.) And now the news is confirmed.

For multiple Brits, myself included, the only song we’ve ever sung has been “God Save the Queen”. Multiple generations who, if not real monarchists, quite liked the woman who wasn’t meant to be queen. (Thank you, Wallis Simpson.) She was nothing if not a steady pair of hands. Farewell, ma’am, and thank you for your service.

She was 25 when her father died. Her oldest son is 73.

Singing “God Save the King” will stick in the throats of many and not just because we’ll have to remember the new wording. This is the long awaited moment of truth, the answer to the question of whether or not the monarchy in its current form can survive this monarch’s passing.

There is little appetite for a King Charles. For one thing, he is generally considered to be almost completely out of touch. He’s also on multiple occasions stuck his nose where it doesn’t belong, offering up his opinions to various government ministers – something the royal family is absolutely not supposed to do.

And then there’s this.

Heaven knows what the former Princess of Wales would be up to these days if the car she was in hadn’t crashed in that Paris tunnel, but crash it did (with no help whatsoever from the Duke of Edinburgh whose rumoured involvement was one of many conspiracy theories at the time). And so Diana remains frozen beautifully in time. There is little appetite for a Queen Camilla. (Or even “Queen Consort” as she is now to be called.)

If you’ve never seen Charles IIIthe award-winning Shakespearean tragedy written by Mike Bartlett which premiered on stage in 2014 and was adapted for television broadcast in 2017, you really should track it down. The play begins with the death of Queen Elizabeth.

Is it an accurate representation of what is likely to unfold? Perhaps. It is certainly a portrayal of what many people would like to see: Charles stepping (or rather being forced to step) down in favour of his eldest son.

This is the moment for which republicans have been waiting. Can the monarchy, with all its pomp and ceremony (and cost) really continue as it is with Charles III or even William V? Larger crowds than Charles is likely to draw would probably gather outside Westminster Abbey and line the Mall for the coronation of William, but how much use would either of them actually be in the 21st century?

The Queen is dead. Long live the King?

From → Columns

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