Queen Elizabeth's Death Reopens The Republican Debate
The death of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom has been received with mourning, indifference and even joy in the kingdom .
Photo: National Geographic
LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández
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Leer en español: La muerte de la Reina Isabel reabre el debate republicano
The death of Queen Elizabeth II has shaken the world. Despite maintaining a symbolic power, her image and her relevance in British politics and life (and that of the former colonies) means that hers is not the death of any other citizen. Although in the United Kingdom the greatest signs have been of affection, there are also different responses that have not monopolized the front pages of the media, but that may portend a change in the British monarchy.
The change can range from less power and influence to complete abolition. It is evident that today the construction of a Republic in Great Britain in the near (and even distant) future is unthinkable, but never impossible.
The first example was during the parade of the deceased monarch's coffin, several citizens expressed their rejection of the monarchy and its members. To the point where the British police reported the arrest of several people in several countries in the United Kingdom for alleged “disorderly conduct”.
For example, there is the case of Symon Hill, 45, who was arrested for shouting "who elected him" during the proclamation of King Charles III in Oxford. Or from a 22-year-old who protested the presence of Prince Andrew in the royal procession. These cases not only demonstrate the discontent of a sector of the citizenry with the monarchy but also raise concern at cases of censorship of freedom of expression.
The former colonies also reacted
But the signs of rejection of the British monarchy are not only evident in the British Isles, other countries that in the past were part of the British Empire also felt the news. Just look at the reactions of the Irish who even sang "Lizi is in a box" at a football match or the messages of joy from various African and Indian tweeters. They recalled India's historical claim on the UK to demand back the British crown jewels that were taken from India during the colonial period.
For many, the death of the English queen is just a reminder of the heinous deeds at the hands of the British empire. Many still lament the murders, the colonization, the slave trade, the racist regimes, etc.
The unpopularity of Prince Charles
A poll conducted by Ipsos in May 2022 asked Britons for their favorite member of the royal family. Not surprisingly, Queen Elizabeth topped the list with 45% favoritism. The second was the wife of Prince William (current heir to the crown), with 32% popularity. The third place was occupied by Prince William, precisely, with 28% of the support. The third place is occupied by King Charles III with only 14% approval.
This shows that Charles III arrives with low popularity to the throne, this being a position that depends on the approval of the people. Being so symbolic, the monarchy nowadays acquires its legitimacy thanks to the crowd's approval. However, about half of those surveyed still expect the new king to be a good monarch. They describe him as a traditional person (41%), while 23% believe that he does not connect with ordinary people, 21% believe that he is a good representative of Great Britain and 19% see him as a capable man.
Loss of territories loyal to the crown
In addition to the former colonies, there is also a possible domino effect of the loss of current countries belonging to the British crown. As recently as November 2021, Barbados removed the queen as its head of state and declared itself a republic.
Additionally, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, announced that a referendum will be held for citizens to decide whether they want to remain within the monarchy or become a republic. This news was communicated by the president shortly after the inauguration of Carlos III.
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For her part, the Australian parliamentarian Lidia Thorpe said in her inauguration as a legislator that "I solemnly and sincerely swear that I will be faithful and maintain true loyalty to Her Majesty, the colonizer Queen Elizabeth II." Thorpe is of aboriginal descent and represents the most abolitionist sector of the monarchy in a country relatively loyal to the British crown. Her arrival in parliament, likewise, demonstrates the growing revisionist and anti-colonial position that the crown represents.
Today King Charles III is not only king of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland (United Kingdom), but of 14 other countries: Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Jamaica, New Zealand, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Tuvalu.
To crown the possible rejection that the monarchy has in several of its subjects, it is the sum of scandals of its members. The most recent and most notorious is that of Prince Andrew, who faced a lawsuit for sexual assault in New York. The scandal ended with an agreement between both parties, which does not clear the doubts about his guilt.
Likewise, Megan Markle, wife of Prince Harry, accused in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that they received racist accusations. They did not delve into details, but the role of members of the royal family in Harry and Megan's marriage is speculated. Added to these scandals are the rumors of infidelity by Charles and Princess Diana when they were still married.