Will the heir to the throne be an ingesting monarch? – Monash lens
Sooner or later – she turned 96 last month – Elizabeth Mary Alexandra Windsor will die, and Buckingham Palace will issue the solemn missive: “The Queen is dead, long live the King.
That king will be Charles, taking control of a monarchy that is losing its power and influence in the Commonwealth, and a family steeped in dysfunction.
Barbados became a republic this year, with Jamaica tipped to be next. The Queen is only head of state in 15 of the other Commonwealth countries, including Australia and Canada.
Plus, all the family issues. Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Harry left the family in 2020 to live in California with his wife, Meghan Markle, and their family. Harry’s mother, of course, Diana, died in a shocking car crash in 1997 after a troubled time as a royal in the 1980s.
The Queen’s second son, Andrew, has also found himself in monumental trouble after being heavily linked to trafficking Jeffrey Epstein and the sexual abuse of young girls. Andrew was stripped of some royal affiliations by his elderly mother and settled a court case brought by an alleged victim out of court earlier this year.
In a current documentary about British celebrity and notorious pedophile Jimmy SavileCharles proved to be a close confidant.
The Queen’s husband, Prince Phillip, died last year aged 99. They had been married for 74 years.
Legacy of a much changed monarchy
When Charles becomes king, he will inherit a distinctly different monarchy from the one his mother took over, a (still popular) monarchy in crisis and struggling to evolve, and facing impending succession.
“I think the monarchy is in big trouble as it heads towards King Charles,” Monash says. Professor Emeritus Jenny Hockingpolitical scientist and biographer of Gough Whitlam.
“The Queen gave him stability. Her longevity has brought a kind of comfort that she has always been there, that we know her as our queen.
“But if you look at the family more broadly, it is divided and increasingly dysfunctional, and even Prince William cannot control the Queen’s remarkable popularity. They refer to themselves as “The Firm”, which emphasizes the tension between the dynastic element of the royal family as a family and the business aspect of a monarchy in contemporary terms.
Interventions in government legislation
Contrary to her benign and ceremonial image, Queen Elizabeth has recently been denounced by investigative journalists from The Guardian in the UK as a regular speaker in proposed government legislation.
Prince Charles also figured prominently in the investigation, which revealed that the proposed UK laws had been approved by the Queen in a secret and archaic procedure called “the Queen’s consent”, before be presented to parliament.
“We assume in a modern democracy that any sort of interference, if you will, by monarchs is simply not possible. Well, it is, and it happens,” says Professor Hocking.
Read more: The future of Australia: the new republic model is a good step forward
Which can lead to big problems for Charles when he becomes king. Two years ago, Emeritus Professor Hocking broke the Royal Family’s wall of secrecy by winning a lengthy legal action to access 45-year-old correspondence between the Queen and her representative in Australia, Governor-General Sir John Kerr, regarding the 1975 dismissal of then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and his government.
It was the only time in Australian history that an elected government had been removed from office by the Governor-General. As the BBC reported:
“Until then, no one even knew that the Queen’s representative – a largely symbolic figure – had such power (and this remains a disputed point among legal experts).”
Prince Charles wrote to Kerr to congratulate him on his “courageous” action in dismissing the elected government. The image of a benign queen, or king, with no real power, Prof Hocking says, is “only a superficial understanding” of the very important role of the monarch.
“What interests me is how much more evident this involvement in political and legal affairs can be with Prince Charles.
“The essence of a constitutional monarchy is that they are politically neutral, they should stay out of political affairs, they should really not get involved in legislative or political affairs, and this has not always been confirmed by the Queen, much less by Charles.
Will the king stay in his lane?
The question is, can Charles, as king, stay in his lane? Throughout history, the British monarchy has been quite willing to get involved in law-making, despite not being elected.
“The big concern I have, and what I think we need to look at for the future, is that Prince Charles has already meddled much more openly and interfered in a series of questions – questions policies, cultural issues, architectural issues, etc. His vision of climate change, even.
“I mean, while people may applaud his comments, the fact is that unfortunately climate change is still a contested political space and, in my opinion, a constitutional monarch does not engage in these discussions, even when we could agree with what they say. .
“It is what maintains two fundamentally contradictory aspects of the monarchy within a parliamentary democracy à la Westminster. You have something that is essentially a fully dynastic, unelected birthright with significant residual powers, sitting with an electoral framework.
“The only way to bring these things together and make them manageable, if you want to remain a constitutional monarchy, is to make sure the monarch doesn’t get involved in the political fray.”
Charles’ actions concern royal watchers
Emeritus Professor Hocking says the view of Charles by those who watch the British monarchy and how they interact with the government is concerning.
“I think there’s a very strong view that as a future monarch he shouldn’t be intruding into this space right now, but he can’t change the way he behaves. He claims to fully understand – and I’m sure his courtiers fully understand – that this is a dangerous path to take.
“The idea that his birthright gives him the ability to write to members of government, as he did with the Blair government, and demand policy changes and dictate change, to which Blair has acceded, is quite an outrageous intervention – to interfere with the government when the role of a constitutional monarch is that he must stay away from it at all times.
“The additional concern, of course, is that it is done in secret and not revealed until years later. So not only do you have the ability to wield significant power, despite public denials, but where it is exercised, we do not know.
Fuel for the Republican cause?
The Queen’s death and the accession of King Charles, Professor Hocking believes, could well lead to calls for Australia to become a republic.
“I can imagine a situation where Australians become less enamored with the monarchical structure and more willing to consider, as Barbados has done recently, moving towards a republic where we determine our head of state for ourselves, not by birthright of a British family. ”
The only way to bring these things together and make them manageable, if you want to remain a constitutional monarchy, is to make sure the monarch doesn’t get involved in the political fray.
Prince Harry decamping to America to establish his own family life has shown that younger royals can be less easily controlled now. They may perceive the outside world differently.
“In a way, I think it was easier for a royal family to control their extended family members when the opportunities for life outside of that restricted environment were so much more limited and harder for them to penetrate.
“Prince Harry was able to hop to America with his wife, Meghan Markle, and their family, and lead a life of his own, beyond the constraints of the rather dreadful monarchical life of the late 19th century. In some ways, I can completely understand that.
“There seems to be less desire to stay longer in what is really a very obscure notion of royal family life, and for the people who are part of it to take a place in a world that they earn. for themselves and which they do not simply inherit.”
Charles’ precarious position
All of this leaves the future king exposed.
“Charles is not as popular or as loved and respected as the Queen, and he has a habit of talking about matters that interest him in a way that is not always appropriate.
“As king, his best course of action will be, like his mother, not to comment on matters other than handshake, having a ceremonial role, traveling as the monarch does across countries of the Commonwealth, to make his presence known without publicly engaging on issues he had before. engaged with.
“One of the problems with that, of course, is that it’s very managed, it’s very staged, and it doesn’t allow the monarch to develop intellectually or socially beyond that very constrained space. “