How long will it be until the Royals become irrelevant?
For the first time since 1963, The Queen has pulled out of this year’s State Opening of Parliament and the reading of the Queen’s speech. Her eldest son Prince Charles will deliver the speech for her. After advice from her doctors, the Queen has had to pull out due to “episodic mobility problems”, reluctantly, Buckingham Palace added. Naturally, as the monarch goes through her 96th year she is finally showing signs of slowing down. In the last year she has missed events at Easter, including the Maundy Service, whilst also announcing that she would not host royal garden parties this year. With this information we can start to look forwards to see how the future of the Royal Family will unfold and affect our lives. Questions on tax payers money and their relevance will of course come to mind, but what other options could the public have on the table if we decided on abolishing our constitutional monarchy and getting rid of the royal family?
For starters, The Queen is still very popular. It is quite the feat to be able to have your favourite son caught up in a scandal with Jeffrey Epstein and still maintain a 75% YouGov approval rating. There is without doubt a vicarious fascination with the royal’s lives, whether that be through film and TV series like the Crown or any tabloid newspaper gossip columns pondering over the hidden political meanings of the Queen’s dinner table cutlery arrangements. The money they bring into the country too cannot be overlooked, but ultimately they provide the function of national spirit and are essentially morale boosters for the public. The flipside is that this moral booster costs the tax-payer roughly £67m per year. But aside from when Prince Harry had backlash for his questionable Las Vegas or fancy dress antics, or when Prince Philip had his car crash, or Prince Andrew’s Pizza Express defence for the allegations put against him – the biggest danger to the Royal Family’s survival is the Queen’s death. Could Prince Charles being the next person to be crowned and on the throne change our opinion on the monarchy? His approval ratings are significantly lower than even Wills and Kate.
So let’s say that we voted in a referendum on removing the Royal Family… What would happen if the Queen, or King of England simply said no? Well the monarch still acts as head of the armed forces so technically they are all under their authority, all armed force members still swear allegiance to the Queen. Hypothetically if the Queen or King did not wage an all out war on the UK, the next question would be what political system would replace the constitutional monarchy? The UK would need a new head of state. This of course could be the Prime Minister, who has similar constitutional powers now, but another option could be a form of semi-presidentialism, where the Prime Minister and another elected official both run the country. For option one, total parliamentary democracy, the situation would mainly consist of removing the monarchy and then formalising parliament’s powers that pretty much existed already, just without the Queen overseeing everything in a ceremonial fashion. Option two of turning into a republic with some form of head of state would be a more complicated matter, you would have to redelegate all the existing prerogative powers.
Either way, these options are in no way swift and simple procedures that could happen anytime soon – but with the inevitability of death, there will surely be some question asked soon about the future of the royal family.