The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is a constitutional form of government by which hereditary sovereign reigns as the head of state of the UK. The current monarch is King Charles III, who ascended the throne on 8 September 2022, upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
The royal family have always been the eye of the storm. From conspiracy theories surrounding Diana’s death to Megan and Harry’s decision to separate from the institution. The world has since then sure come far from the drama that takes place at the British Empire. There is also a series adaptation on the same, “The Crown portrays the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her wedding in 1947 to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, until the early 21st century. The first season depicts events up to 1955, with Winston Churchill resigning as prime minister and the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret deciding not to marry Peter Townsend. The second season covers the Suez Crisis in 1956, leading to the retirement of Prime Minister Anthony Eden in 1957; the retirement of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1963, following the scandal of the Profumo affair; and the birth of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex in 1964. The third season covers 1964 to 1977, beginning with Harold Wilson’s election as prime minister and ending with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, also covering Edward Heath‘s time as prime minister. Camilla Shand is also introduced. The fourth season is set during Margaret Thatcher’s period as prime minister from 1979 to 1990 and also focuses on Lady Diana Spencer. The fifth season covers the period 1991 to 1997, and focuses on the “War of the Waleses” and the resulting divorce of Diana and Prince Charles, as well as the rise of the Al-Fayed family and the “annus horribilis” of Queen Elizabeth II in 1992.”
In this article, we will be discussing a few historical facts, the revelation about the institution that have come to light in the recent years, and more.
THE ROLE OF THE MONARCH
The Monarch is the head of the state and nation. “The King reigns, but he does not rule. The ruling is done by his government, and as head of state in the UK, the King is constitutionally obliged to follow the government’s advice. His main functions as head of state are to appoint the Prime Minister, and all the other ministers; to open new sessions of parliament; and to give royal assent to bills passed by parliament, signifying that they have become law. The King also chairs monthly meetings of the Privy Council, to approve Orders in Council; he receives incoming and outgoing ambassadors; he makes a host of other appointments, such as the senior judges, but in all this, he acts on the advice of the government. He has a weekly audience with the Prime Minister and receives daily boxes of state papers for her signature, and for information. He also has regular meetings with senior officials of all kinds.”
In addition to this, “the Sovereign acts as a focus for national identity, unity, and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognizes success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service. This role has been fulfilled through speeches such as the Queen’s address to the nation at the start of the Covid pandemic, and the annual broadcast on Christmas day; through giving honors to recognize public and voluntary service; and through visits to the armed forces, schools, hospitals, charities, and local organizations. The King carried out just under 300 public engagements in 2019, but in total 15 members of the royal family carried out 3,567 such engagements. These include national occasions such as attending the Cenotaph for Remembrance Day, or Trooping the Color; but the majority are visits to all parts of the UK, to recognize and support the work of local public services and voluntary organizations. The King and other members of the royal family are patrons of over 1000 charities and organizations in the UK and the Commonwealth.”
“George was a shy and nervous man with a very bad stutter, the exact opposite of his brother the Duke of Windsor, but he had inherited the steady virtues of his father George V. He was very popular and well-loved by the British people. The prestige of the throne was low when he became king, but his wife Elizabeth, and his mother Queen Mary were outstanding in their support of him. The Second World War started in 1939 and throughout the King and Queen set an example of courage and fortitude. They remained at Buckingham Palace for the duration of the war despite the bombing. The Palace was bombed more than once. The two Princesses, Elizabeth, and Margaret spent the war years at Windsor Castle. George was in close touch with the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill throughout the war and both had to be dissuaded from landing with the troops in Normandy on D-Day! The post-war years of his reign were ones of great social change and saw the start of the National Health Service. The whole country flocked to the Festival of Britain held in London in 1951, 100 years after the Great Exhibition during Victoria’s reign.”
Elizabeth II 1952 – 2022:
“Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, or ‘Lilibet’ to close family, was born in London on 21 April 1926. Like her parents, Elizabeth was heavily involved in the war effort during the Second World War, serving in the women’s branch of the British Army known as the Auxiliary Territorial Service, training as a driver and mechanic. Elizabeth and her sister Margaret anonymously joined the crowded streets of London on VE Day to celebrate the end of the war. She married her cousin Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and they had four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward. When her father George VI died, Elizabeth became Queen of seven Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka). Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 was the first to be televised, serving to increase popularity in the medium and doubling television license numbers in the UK. The huge popularity of the royal wedding in 2011 between the Queen’s grandson, Prince William, and the commoner Kate Middleton, now the Prince and Princess of Wales, reflected the high profile of the British Monarchy at home and abroad. 2012 was also an important year for the royal family, as the nation celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, her 60th year as Queen. On 9th September 2015, Elizabeth became Britain’s longest-serving monarch, ruling longer than her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria who reigned for 63 years and 216 days. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral on 8th September 2022 at the age of 96. She was the longest reigning monarch in the history of the United Kingdom, celebrating her Platinum Jubilee in June 2022.”
The monarchy has had to change, modify, and adapt itself over and over again during the course of many years. One can safely point out that, it has also played an active role in not only constructing but dismantling various empires under its rule. Let’s take India as a prime example: the Britishers not only introduced western education but also paved way for women’s empowerment and uplifting the status of women in Indian society. As such, they passed The Child Restriction Marriage Act 1929 and Sati Prevention Act with the help of Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Lord William Bentick – One which increased the age limit for girls and boys when it came to child marriage which was prevalent in the history of India. They also passed The Hindu Women’s Right to Property Act 1837 – which uplifted the status of women in society and provided women and widows, the right to property shares after the death of their husband, so they need not be financially dependent on anyone.
Over the years many countries have now freed themselves from the clutches of the Monarch and as such the British government was forced to become increasingly democratic and as such much of its control and power over its people are drifting away. For example: There is an old report/survey that states that the British citizens were not happy paying taxes that funded the Queen’s luxurious lifestyle.
“No one seems to stop to think about what the royals actually need this money for. While Britain sees a rapid rise in the use of food banks and the slashing of services that support some of the most vulnerable people in society, taxpayer money is funding the royals’ interests and lifestyles. Why is the British monarchy so expensive? It’s unaccountable, lacks transparency, and has access to government ministers and the opportunity to defend its interests with impunity. Much of the £300 million is not being spent on official duties. The travel bill alone is bloated by personal trips around the country—such as when Prince Charles spent £30,000 on a chartered plane for a four-day holiday in Scotland, just 400 miles from his London home. That’s more than many people earn in a whole year. We don’t know all the details because the royals refuse to publish fully itemized accounts.”
On September 8th, 2022, the Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest. The demise of Elizabeth is a celebration of her longevity – a 70-year rule on the throne, that is now a vanished era. Her reign over various countries is also a measure of her success. On the face of it, the personal lives of the royal family seem to continue to be the center news of the world. Will the Monarch continue to thrive or crumble under Elizabeth’s demise, only time will tell.
 Monarchy of the United Kingdom - Wikipedia  Ibid.  The Crown (TV series) - Wikipedia  What is the role of the monarchy? | The Constitution Unit - UCL – University College London  Ibid.  Kings and Queens of England & Britain - Historic UK (historic-uk.com)  Ibid.  An Article written By Graham Smith “Stop Paying the Queen With My Taxes” on June2, 2015. Retrieved From: Stop Paying the Queen With My Taxes | Time
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