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The Challenges For the UK If There Are Changes In the British Crown

The Queen's recent visit to the hospital poses questions about the future of the UK and the British crown.

Queen Elizabeth II meeting with Princes Charles and William

The age and physical deterioration in Queen Elizabeth II have been more evident year after year, the debate about the future of the British crown is also increasingly frequent. Photo: IG-theroyalfamily

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: Los retos para Reino Unido si hay cambios en la corona británica

The age and physical deterioration in Queen Elizabeth II have been more evident year after year, the debate about the future of the British crown is also increasingly frequent. Her reign is by far the longest in British history and has been momentous in the great changes that brought the old Empire to its current state. Her central role as head of state and a fundamental element in the kingdom's economic ties with the world have raised questions about the challenges that the country will face with a new monarch.

Succession to the British Crown

The commitment of Elizabeth II to the Crown has been admired by the citizens, since she began to reign in an era of great uncertainty such as the postwar period after the Second World War, with a country affected economically, physically, and morally. Her work was fundamental for the unity of the kingdom that managed to recover economically, although it did not recover the international role that it once had as an empire. She also had to face the scandals of the royal family, as well as the problems with the constituent nations of the kingdom that have put its territorial unity at risk.

Elizabeth II is still more popular than her son Charles, who is in sixth place behind Prince William according to the YouGov ranking . If the unpopularity of Charles is added to his 72 years of age, the result is not very favorable for the prince. There are those who could even hope for an abdication of Charles so that William accedes to the throne, which would rejuvenate the Crown and would maintain or increase the favorable opinion of the citizens. However,  Charles is still the crown prince and has shown no signs of wanting to modify this, perhaps because of the same commitment to the monarchy that his mother has.

The UK's weight in the Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth of Nations includes countries that have some historical ties with the United Kingdom (with the exception of Rwanda and Mozambique), 16 of them (15 after the next departure from Barbados) have Elizabeth II as head of state. Although it seems a merely nominal role, the member countries of the Commonwealth will not take the change of monarch as a simple substitution, the image of Elizabeth II is decisive. The coronation of Charles could accelerate processes such as that of Barbados, which decided to become a republic leaving Elizabeth II out as head of state. Similar processes exist in other economically important countries such as Australia, New Zealand or even Canada with the independence movement in Quebec. It is important to clarify that the abolition of the monarchy in any of these countries does not imply the exit of the Commonwealth, since there are cultural and above all economic ties that it needs to maintain.

The economy may be a determining factor for the future of the Commonwealth with a new monarch. Brexit affected the expectations of its members as it closed direct trade opportunities, the queen is considered an important speaker for the community and is crucial for economic relations. The new king must guarantee that his image will continue to be the standard that allows to keep business at the same level or increase it. According to data from the Commonwealth, the combined GDP of the member countries is 13 trillion dollars in 2020, almost at the level of China which is 14 trillion, hence the importance of the "British" market for its members. The member countries have known how to separate the political from the economic, so the transformations in republics will hardly affect the commonwealth. 

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The United Kingdom in the world

One of the motivations for the Brexit victory in 2016 was the perception of loss of sovereignty of the United Kingdom in the world, in favor of the European Union. The other motivation was the economic and immigration issue. Citizens considered that the European Union represented an expense for the country rather than a benefit. Leaving Europe aside, the UK has decided to move closer to the US as a way to offset the impact of Brexit. This occurred during the Trump administration, which openly supported his British allies. However Biden has not been so enthusiastic, in line with Barack Obama's policy on Brexit, the current US president remains cautious about a trade deal with the United Kingdom, according to Politico .

The figure of the monarch becomes important in this context. Faced with closed negotiations, the new monarch will have the challenge of opening the economic and political landscape for the United Kingdom, whose leadership has been overshadowed by Germany and France within the European Union, by China, and the United States.  The trajectory of Elizabeth II and her role in determining events in European history can hardly be equaled by Charles, he will face internal challenges such as those of Northern Ireland and Scotland, and equally important global challenges.