Posts Tagged ‘England’

Ok Charles, You’re Up!

May 2nd, 2023 No comments


In a few days’ time, arguably the biggest social event of the past half century will be celebrated in Britain, if not worldwide.  For the first time since 1953, The United Kingdom will coronate a new monarch, with the title of King Charles lll.  Charles of course, is the son of the now deceased Queen Elizabeth ll.

Charles has literally been waiting for this job since he was born, having not prepared for any other vocation.  All he had to do was wait.  And wait he did, for virtually the entirety of his adult life.  His mother, Queen Elizabeth decided not to relinquish her position as notional head of state for reasons only she knew. While she was only 27 at her coronation, her son Charles will be 75 upon his.  That he was so long in the on-deck circle kind of tells you that the Queen didn’t have a lot of confidence in her son.

As it happens, Elizabeth was quite beloved by her subjects and always exuded the epitome of Royal dignity and decorum. Her patented rotating arm wave was the subject of many comic emulators as was her formal British accent during speeches.  She was an anachronism and an iconic standard for British society even as her society changed dramatically during her reign.  It’s hard to dispute the popularity of the notion of a royal society given the wild popularity of the Downton Abbey television series.  People, especially Brits, love their traditions.

And speaking of anachronism, it may be amusing to look at the history of the Royal Family to give some perspective to their role in modern society.  It’s hard to believe in our modern times of rapid change in all things, but the Royal Family’s roots began with King Alfred the Great, the effective first King of England in 871 AD. Thus Charles lll is the 33rd great grandson of the first King, known simply as “The Great” to his close friends.

Back in the day, you don’t get to be King of a realm unless you are able to marshall a bunch of men to conquer other men, so Alfred’s moniker of “The Great” was probably due to his prowess in the war business. Luckily for him, once he got ensconced in the leadership role, he was able to keep it unless someone else was able to beat him.

Thus for many generations leading up to modern times, the lineage of children continued to enjoy their privileged roles as scions of a Royal bloodline.  This is pretty remarkable when you consider that through the ages, people were constantly fighting over this issue or that piece of land. There was always a war to be fought with someone.  That one family could retain their power through the centuries is quite amazing.  The Windsors are the longest continuous line of ruling families in the world.  It’s a pretty good gig if you can get it.  To be conferred wealth, respect and power simply because of your parents is pretty much a life lottery win.  Also, pretty cool to have images of your family on the coin of the realm.

Of course, in modern times, the role of the British Monarchy, or for that matter, any Monarchy, is largely ceremonial.  No one expects these Monarchs to be hoisting broadswords into battle.  So if that’s not the case, how does any Monarchy retain their privileged positions atop a society?  The constituency of the British Empire has changed dramatically since the days of Alfred, but most significantly over the past 30 years.  People whom were once part of the far flung colonies now make up a significant portion of the native British population.

Will they continue to respect the throne and the traditions attached thereto?  When Kings or Queens wielded power, it was through their implied control of armies.  Such is not the case today as all governments are essentially some form of functional bureaucracies.  Policy is often made by these bureaucracies and not really by the elected representatives of citizens….much less than by ceremonial heads of state.

Access to information was also a former purview of Royal Families.  Not anymore. Information and intelligence is widely available to the masses and no one depends on the opinions of those who happen to be of Royal bloodlines.  In the case of Charles, his life under the microscope has revealed that he is as vulnerable to human foibles as any of us.  He comes in at time when the population is much less forgiving of such foibles.  In addition, his cause celebre is Climate Change.  Good luck on convincing those with actual facts.  It will be ‘amusing’ to see the direction in which the new King Charles takes the Monarchy and what becomes of the House of Windsor.