Empire under Charles
Queen Elizabeth II was finally laid to rest on Monday, September 19. The late queen’s son King Charles has now taken over the reins. For the mostly truncated ‘British Empire’ it’s time now to pause and reflect. With 14 nations other than the UK still owing their allegiance to the monarch, the passing of the crown to a new generation comes seven decades after her installation in 1952. She ascended the throne five years after India gained Independence from the British Raj, and the epoch-making event of 1947 in Delhi was followed up in later years with grant of Independence to several nations that were a part of the Empire that had spanned around the globe. Behemoths like Australia and Canada still under the writ of the British monarch maintain an economic feeder line to the UK but also face growing public opinion for republic status. Barbados was the latest to declare Independence a year ago and Jamaica has begun such a transition. Australia is currently under a pro-republic government while New Zealand hopes to be a republic in the near future. Attempts are on for Scotland to gain independence from the UK, just as Ireland did in the past. In other words, the British monarchy is bound to see its grip progressively getting reduced.
UK, on its part, will continue to hold its economic might as it remains the world’s 15th largest energy producer, set against a population of less than 70 million people (seven crore). A week ago, India overtook UK as the world’s fifth largest economy, for the second time, while Britons face an economic stagnation for the past 15 years, its inflation at near 13 per cent, the worst in 40 years, and the Ukraine war adding to the economic mess in view of the higher energy bills.
Queen Elizabeth, despite her high aura, was a tower of silence. She communicated to the world through her gracious smiles. Yet, the monarchy held awe under the queen, the people’s support for her overwhelming. By contrast, only a third of the people appear to believe Charles as King would rise to their expectations. The relatively low esteem is reflected also in the calls to make his son, William, the monarch. However, in a nation of free expression of ideas, such talks are only natural. It is likely that King Charles would now begin earning more respect. In real terms, the monarch intervened in governance on the rarest of rare occasions. The good or bad side of governance by people’s elected representatives in respective nations do not affect the king’s, or queen’s, credibility or esteem.
The monarchy continues its rule.