What next for the Royal Family as the sparkle of the Platinum Jubilee begins to fade away?
Is this the final hurrah for the United Kingdom’s Royal Family? The Platinum Jubilee celebrates our nation’s most-loved great-grandma, but what comes next for a monarchy built on overt privilege and the crumbling of an empire?
Bunting entangles itself around trees and lampposts, tables buckle under the weight of cakes smeared in butter icing and barbecues turn to ash. The Platinum Jubilee parties are coming to an end and so should our obsession with the Royal Family.
The Queen is a national treasure who is respected by many around the globe. You may have heard that line many times over the last few days, and it certainly carries some weight. Elizabeth II has been an ever-present as the country’s figurehead since 1952, maintaining and representing the post-War establishment as Britain wrestled with its identity after the crumbling of the empire. There is an argument that she has somehow held the country together through decades of change and that we are better off for her family’s presence, despite the fact we live in a progressive democracy.
It becomes ever more unpalatable when you look at who is next to take over the Crown. God save the King? It doesn’t feel as easy to warble despite Prince Charles’ passions for preserving history and nature. His sons seem to be in a state of cold war on either side of the Atlantic and his brother surely can’t test positive for Covid at every national event.
The Queen is human. This could be the final major milestone
Seventy years on the throne. Incredible. It’s a time to celebrate that great achievement, accept that the Queen’s body is failing and let her rest so she can make the most of her final years.
Let’s now look ahead to what we need from this fractured family - or whether we need them at all. The United States of America and France seem to have done pretty well without having dysfunctional demi-Gods being held above all others despite their very clear failings.
Yes, it makes for a great national soap opera and tourists may love it, but how does it help the daily lives of those living across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland? Many Commonwealth countries have already distanced themselves to what is seen to many as a colonial institution.
Sorry son, you won’t be king
My five-year-old son was recently taught about the Queen ahead of the Jubilee weekend. As ever, he is full of many questions, including ‘what happens when the Queen dies, does she go to heaven like grandma?’ and ‘how do you become a king or queen?’ - he is somewhat ambitious. I had to explain that queens and kings are born that way. It’s luck of the draw. It’s a stacked deck. Son, you were born with me as your dad and I can only apologise for your poor hand.
In all seriousness, how can we live in a fair and just society when we have a hierarchy built into our social system? Are all people born equal in the UK? Not if you’re a Windsor. If you’re a young Windsor you should expect to be in a horse-drawn carriage looking down on children like mine who wave flags at you. The reason for it? Your mum or dad has a bloodline descending back through high-society. My bloodline goes back through farmers and factory workers. I’d argue they had served the country as much as any royal.
Okay, life isn’t fair. Some of us are born as the children of millionaires, some of us are born into abject poverty. Life is tough. Yet, without a monarchy, the class system would weaken, social mobility would be easier and a meritocracy could rise up in the place of hereditary privilege. It’s a dream but one worth having - and wouldn’t the birth of such a system be cause for an even greater celebration that we have seen this June.
I sincerely hope everyone celebrating has had a great time. I hope the Queen continues to live for many years to come. I also hope that we can start to have an open conversation about what comes next for an out-of-date and patronising institution.