King Charles III’s challenge: preserve the ashes of the British Empire
By Guillermo Ximenis
London, Sep 9 (EFE).- When Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952, she was head of state in 32 countries.
The new monarch King Charles III will inherit 15 of the titles, but more importantly, the challenge of preserving the ashes of the British Empire and the United Kingdom’s global influence.
While the monarchy in the UK is still widely supported, republican movements in many commonwealth countries and overseas territories have grown in recent decades, and the role of the institution has strongly declined.
Although the 54 nations of the commonwealth agreed in 2018, under a request by Elizabeth II, that Charles would inherit his mother’s leadership upon his accession to the throne, the new monarch’s role might not be so secure.
Relations with former Caribbean colonies have become increasingly strained and the UK’s slave-owning past has tarnished relations with several.
Charles attended the ceremony in 2021 when Barbados became a republic and although he showed support to the newly independent government, Buckingham Palace began to devise a strategy to try to prevent the example from spreading.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the region a few months later in a trip arranged for the two most charismatic members of the royal family to charm the Caribbean people. The tour, however, was branded a public relations “disaster” in the British press as the couple was met with protests.
Meanwhile in Australia, which held a referendum in 1999 on whether to keep the monarchy, the end of the Elizabethan era could reopen the debate on the institution’s role in the country.
Elizabeth II’s popularity peaked in Australia in the 1950s during her first visit. Her face still appears on the local currency and her name on many hospitals and public buildings.
But Charles III is not as popular as his mother was in the Australian public’s eye and is also taking over as the country is in the process of reviewing its past and its treatment of Aboriginal people, which could point the finger at the British monarchy.
According to professor in the history department at the University of Sydney, Cindy McCreery, Australia will not become a republic just because Charles comes to the throne.
“It would be part of a much more complex and long-term process,” she told Efe.
Charles III could also face challenges in Canada with the growth of a republican movement in the past decades.
The arrival of a new monarch will reopen the debate on the monarchy, especially in Quebec, Ian Brodie, professor of political science at the University of Calgary, told Efe.
But the change in the model of state would require constitutional changes which are “particularly difficult” in Canada, he added.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we learned of the passing of Canada’s longest-reigning Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” prime minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.
“Queen Elizabeth II was a constant presence in our lives. Time and again, Her Majesty marked Canada’s modern history.
“Today, a page has not only been turned, but a chapter in our shared history has drawn to a close,” he added. EFE