What obstacles did King Charles III have to overcome to succeed in his reign?
The Kingdom of Charles has a rich history and is made up of a diverse group of countries and peoples. But with this history and the relationship with these fourteen countries, problems immediately arise. In the later years under Elizabeth, discussions were sometimes avoided, but Charles, much less popular, expects more resistance. After being crowned Saturday in London, what obstacles will Charles, 74, have to overcome to succeed in his reign?
In Scotland and Northern Ireland, a large part of the population wishes to become independent of England, and therefore leave the United Kingdom. In the 2014 referendum, 45% of Scots voted for independence. Since Brexit three years ago, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has wanted to organize a new referendum. The national government opposes it. In Scotland, only 45% of the population think the monarchy is good for the country, according to a recent YouGov poll. For the UK as a whole it is 53%.
In Northern Ireland, support for the monarchy – polled in a slightly different way – is 52%, but demographics could play a major role here. Catholics will eventually outnumber Protestants. And Catholics are generally in favor of joining the Republic of Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement, the 1998 peace agreement, provides that there may one day be a referendum on the future of Northern Ireland.
For Charles, it is important to show that these countries benefit from the monarchy and a good king as head of state, for example by playing a liaison role in relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom. . In Wales, the independence party, Plaid Cymry, has not yet exceeded 15%, but the movement is gaining momentum.
As well as being the head of state for all Britons in the United Kingdom, Charles is also the king of fourteen former colonies, the Commonwealth realms: Australia, New Zealand and Canada, as well as smaller Caribbean countries like Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda. It is a group within the wider Commonwealth, which includes 56 countries. In many of these countries, people shrug their shoulders during the coronation.
Unlike UK residents, there is no day off. Charles asked his subjects around the world to swear allegiance to him aloud at the coronation, but it’s mostly social networks replied with contempt. It is indicative of the declining influence of the British Empire. In 2021, the kingdom became a bit smaller, when Barbados became a republic. A year later, Jamaica announced that it was aiming for independence.
The republican movement is also stirring in larger countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Three out of five Canadians want to overthrow Charles as king. In Australia, as the coronation approaches, T-shirts with the text “democracy, not monarchy” popular. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government has had a “Secretary of State for the Republic” since taking office last year. The Albanian has promised a new referendum on the monarchy if he wins a second term in government.
In 1999, a narrow majority of the population still voted in favor of maintaining the monarchy, but this was mainly due to the popularity of Elizabeth. Charles cannot match his mother. In Australia, a small majority wants to get rid of him, it turned out a survey last year. Support for the king is also weak in New Zealand. Relatively new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins wants his country to become a republic, but says it is not a priority during his first term.
History of slavery
Charles must find a response to the growing outcry over Britain’s slave past. In a letter the day before his coronation, indigenous leaders from Britain’s former colonies called for “apologies for the slavery past, reparations and the return of looted art treasures”. The letter was signed by leaders from twelve countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Papua New Guinea and the Caribbean Islands.
Last month, the king first expressed his support for an investigation into the British royal family’s involvement in slavery. In 2022, he said “it’s time to have a conversation” about that past.
According to the authors of the letter, this does not go far enough. They want Charles to officially acknowledge the history of genocide and slavery, and initiate reparations for “the oppression of indigenous peoples, the plunder of resources and the suppression of indigenous culture”. They also want human remains and art treasures in UK museums returned to their countries of origin as soon as possible. “For hundreds of years, genocide, slavery and discrimination by the authorities have been able to take place thanks to the protection of the British crown,” write the indigenous leaders. According to them, it is time for the king to face this dark history.
If he can’t even keep his own family together, how can he be a binding factor as king? You hear that a lot from the Brits on the eve of the coronation. Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have split from the royal family and relinquished some of their royal titles after arguments. Harry will come to the coronation, but relations are fragile, according to media familiar with this story.
Charles also has a problem with one of his brothers, Prince Andrew. He is accused of sexual abuse. “It will be crucial for Charles to show that the monarchy has value,” says Scottish professor and pollster John Curtice. And history, he says, proves you don’t do that “by presenting yourself as a model family and then attracting attention with divorces and infighting.” With Prince William, he seems to have a good successor in this area, with a more stable private life, as far as we can tell. He and his wife Kate are much more popular than Charles with Britons, according to YouGov.
Also read the report: It’s “a damned strange nation” of which Charles becomes the king
King Charles is a rich man. And that leads to resistance, especially in these difficult economic times. Around a third of Britons think the monarchy is too expensive. British newspapers The Guardian And The temperature both investigated the wealth of the new king. According to The Guardian the royal family tries to “hide their wealth from public scrutiny”. After months of research, the newspaper concludes that Charles has assets worth just over £2bn, including the Balmoral and Sandringham estates (together around £375m), the Duchy of Lancaster (about 742 million euros) and jewelry (more than 600 million euros). euro). Buckingham Palace speaks of “a creative mix of speculation, assumptions and inaccuracies”. The Times comes out on a capital of 680 million euros.
When Charles inherited around 421 million from his mother, he didn’t have to pay the 168 million in inheritance tax that other Britons would have had to pay. The Crown Estate owns billions in assets across the country, for example Windsor Castle, but this is not considered Charles’ private property. The Royal Family receives an allowance from the benefices of the Crown Estate to perform royal duties. In the last year for which the figures are known, the financial year 2020/2021, it was 96 million euros. The upkeep of Buckingham Palace must then be paid from this.
For the long-term monarchy, the main obstacle is weak support from young people. In a poll taken in mid-April, 53% of all Britons said the monarchy was good for the UK. It’s 26% among young people. A well-known fact, according to pollster John Curtice, is that young people become more positive about the royal family as the years go by. But the gap between young and old has never been so wide.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper on May 5, 2023.
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