“The monarchy is so extraordinarily useful. When Britain wins a battle she shouts, God save the Queen; when she loses, she votes down the Prime Minister.”
-Winston Churchill, former UK Prime Minister
The English monarchy started back in the 7th century - it was the time when medieval Europe saw the rise of various empires, especially the Byzantine empire. That was the time when the entire world was all about kingdoms, wars, and royal conquests. It was the ideal environment for the British kingdom to flourish.
As time went by, the British kingdom underwent several changes- until the British Parliament came into being on 1 January 1801 and in 1832,Great Britain was declared a democracy (the Renaissance’s after-effects had left people yearning for these new changes). More than a century after that, in 1917, the British royal family was established. Were the British hinting at a new start?
The Englishmen, with their extraordinary rationality, had perhaps realized that with democracy coming into being, it was not possible to abolish the monarchy completely within a day. Therefore, they decided to split it up - while the sovereign (in simple terms, the king or the queen) remained as the official head of the country, the real power was vested with the elected Parliament. Then they termed this system as a ‘constitutional monarchy’ - neither is the king the supreme head ruling over the country, nor does the Parliament have absolute control over the country.
Now if I were discussing about the history of England with my friend (let us just say that he has absolutely no knowledge of the world and current affairs) and I only told him till this much, he would probably think ‘Oh, so now it has been ages since all that constitutional monarchy was set up and all…I am pretty sure the royal family has disintegrated by now and the it is only the Parliament that is ruling over the people -if that is a valid way to put it. Am I right?’, he would ask.
Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch of England, who had become the queen of England back in 1952,passed away on 8 September 2022. 1952 was perhaps still too early for England to put an end to monarchy. So you would expect that now that we have set our foot into the 21st century, and our beloved queen has passed away, and her son Charles III has become way too old to be a king anymore, the British monarchy would finally come to a dead stop - the members of the once ‘royal’ family will start living normal lives.
Well, surprise, surprise.
Charles III was crowned as the King of England on the 6th of May, 2023.
Yes, a large celebration was indeed held, a grand concert was organized, and people from all over the world came to attend the ceremony.
However, the real question arises here: what was the point of doing all that when the king is just a mere nominal head? Will he have any role to play whatsoever in British politics, which is all about getting elected based on your capabilities? Little maybe - perhaps in signing all the official documents that require his consent - but the common people would not really care about the internal affairs of the government, would they? The times have gone when the common people used to blindly follow their ruler. This is the age where people, in anything and everything, ask: ‘Why?’. How will the government answer the people, if one fine day they ask, ‘Why does the monarchy still exist? It has been centuries! What does the king even do for us that we have to accept him as our head?’
The truth is, that is a very valid question. Why is monarchy still relevant? In this world where everyone is paranoid about every individual being treated equally, where nothing depends upon which family you are born into - it all depends on what you can do- is there any point in having someone (that too, just for show) who has risen above everyone else just because he hails from a royal family?
That brings me to the crux of the matter - in the modern world where all you need is a mere opportunity to soar above everyone and everything else, royalty is pointless. King Charles the third is definitely very well educated - he is the first British monarch to complete a university degree - but how will studying archaeology and anthropology for three whole years help him to head the country? Anyways he was not of much significance until his mother passed away. So after all these years of monarchy that was completely ceremonial and nominal in nature, what is the use of crowning a new king, that too in a world where democracy takes the lead?