Royal rumpuses threaten the Crown

Are the days of the monarchy numbered?

The year in which we celebrate the platinum jubilee of the Queen’s reign has hardly got off to the best of starts for Her Majesty.

Royalist or not, none of us can deny that our longest serving monarch has put in 70 years of total commitment to the Crown and to her subjects, in the UK and throughout the Commonwealth. So, a hurtful triple whammy before the celebrations have begun seems more than 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth II should have to endure. But that is precisely what has happened.

Firstly, the long-running crisis involving her son, Prince Andrew, deepened after a New York judge refused to throw out a civil case over allegations that he sexually assaulted Virginia Giuffre when she was seventeen years old. The Prince denies the allegations.

Then came the revelation that, in defiance of lockdown rules, 10 Downing Street staff were partying on the night before Prince Philip’s funeral. And finally, the long-running row between her grandson, Prince Harry, and the government got another very public airing, this time over who pays for the Prince’s security the next time he visits these shores.

To avoid dragging the monarchy itself into the Duke of York scandal, the Queen had little choice but to take away Andrew’s “His Royal Highness” status, as well as stripping him of his numerous honorary military titles. He will subsequently face any future court appearance as a private citizen.

Throughout all this the Queen has kept her customary dignified silence, but royal rumpuses within the family do little to silence those who reckon that the monarchy is long past its sell-by date and ready for the chop. 

Her Majesty is probably amused to know that, according to an investigation by the Guardian, when she passes away, her private secretary will call the Prime Minister of the day and say, in a coded message, “London Bridge is down.” Following that, bells will toll in cathedrals and churches throughout the land, flags will be lowered to half mast, Parliament will convene, London Bridge will be observed to be still standing after all, and Prince Charles will immediately become King.

But what then? How will the monarchy change under the reign of King Charles – if that is his name as monarch? He can change it if he chooses. Charles is said to favour a slimmed down royal family, something many of his subjects are also likely to prefer.

Less pomp and circumstance, more defined roles relevant to the century for those who continue in the job. Will that be enough to satisfy and silence the republicans? Unlikely. It is worth remembering that the Queen has set incredibly high moral and ethical standards throughout her life.

She is beloved by many and admired by almost everyone. Few in the next generation of royals have come anywhere near those standards. Perhaps it will eventually be down to William and Kate to lead by their, so far, unblemished example. But perhaps by then it will be too late. 

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