King Charles III of Britain se coronation took place exactly 70 years after his mother Queen Elizabeth II’s ascension to the throne in 1953. With the British monarchy being the largest and most prominent in the world, this occasion once again brought into focus the survival of monarchies in a modern and increasingly changing world. placed.
However, experts do not agree that King Charles III’s ascension to the throne inspires much confidence in the survival of the British monarchy, and other monarchies worldwide.
Remains of a previous era
According to Jaco Kleynhans, head of international liaison at the Solidarity Movement, most monarchies in the West only fulfill a symbolic role where absolute monarchs, with executive powers, are limited to other parts of the world such as the Middle East.
Prof. André Duvenhage, political analyst at the North-West University, adds: “However, the fact that most monarchs no longer have executive leadership does not mean that people no longer identify with them or that they are irrelevant.”
In 2023, 43 states worldwide still had a form of monarchy over their countries, with 15 of those recognizing King Charles III as their monarch – that’s about 22% of all UN member states. It ranges from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy, federal monarchy and mixed monarchies led by kings, queens, emirs, emperors, empresses and sultans.
Duvenhage and Kleynhans agree on the important unifying role that monarchs’ symbolic value can play in times of crisis because they are politically neutral. However, the question is how well monarchies, especially in the West, still fulfill this role.
Old, but not obsolete?
“In the current time in which we are going through major changes worldwide, there is a return to the historical and it is as if the monarchy is very important anew,” explains Duvenhage.
However, Kleynhans believes that monarchies in the West are on a downward trajectory.
“Especially since the so-called years of enlightenment, the royal houses were so afraid that the monarchy could be abolished that they never really used the powers they still have. Where they could have played an essential unifying role in extremely polarized times, they have largely failed.”
Research by YouGov in the run-up to King Charles’s coronation shows that less than half of Britons also believe the monarchy is here to stay – a big decrease from the two-thirds who in 2011 had confidence in this institution’s survival.
Furthermore, this research shows the youth’s waning optimism about the monarchy and their king. Where almost 60% of young people supported the continuation of the monarchy in 2011, this dropped to just 36% before King Charles III’s coronation.
The youth are also no longer so convinced of the fact that the royal house is a good thing for the country.
However, Duvenhage is more optimistic than these youths.
“Apart from the advertising value it has, it plays a constructive role for the average Briton. It is still important to people for historical reasons as well as the role model function that royalty fulfills. To say that the British royal house does not have local or international relevance would be a mistake.”
However, Kleynhans fears King Charles III has already ushered in the beginning of the end of the British monarchy.
“Queen Elizabeth II was very popular and defined herself well. King Charles does not speak from the same Christian, traditional conservative frame of reference as his mother. Rather, he tries to align himself with the new ‘woke’ worldview, which is a mistake. The question then is whether the line of tradition has not already been broken.”
King Charles III is much less popular than his mother was with only 6 out of 10 Britons having a positive view of him – royals such as Prince William and his wife, Princess Catherine, as well as Princess Anne, are more popular than the current king.
Research by YouGov further shows that before his coronation, Charles instilled little confidence as a future king with only a third of Britons thinking that before Queen Elizabeth II’s death he would be a good future king.
Duvenhage once again believes that the British royal house will adapt to upcoming challenges: “Monarchies take other forms and adapt to the changing world. It’s not something you can simply destroy.”
It is precisely this changing world that worries Kleynhans.
Individualization a fragmentation
“It is conservative people – people who believe in populism – who support the royals. However, the monarchy loses its relevance and right to exist if the people are no longer well defined and absolute individual rights instead prevail – especially if the king aligns himself with this thinking,” warns Kleynhans.
According to Duvenhage, the survival of monarchies is not necessarily at odds with this changing world.
“Worldwide, there is now the pursuit of autonomy and self-reliance. Very often this manifests in smaller and more states as well as more identities. That search for identity and independence does not necessarily have to be separated from the commitment to a king and royal house.”
How does it affect us?
The question then is how it affects Afrikaners who, moreover, do not live in a royal tradition.
“Due to our historical circumstances, such as the Anglo-Boer War, Afrikaners broke with the tradition early on with the British and replaced that colonial tradition with a republican tradition which, in the historical course of events, places us much more outside the royal tradition,” explains Duvenhage .
According to Kleynshans, these events are important to us because the total decay of the Christian West is also embodied by the crisis of the British royal house, which they themselves will deny.
“Africans who look to the West and are always looking for who keeps the torch burning for the Christian West, must take note of the end of this tradition in Britain and its shocking consequences in society.
“It is always bad when something like a royal house as a carrier of continuity and tradition goes to waste, but unfortunately it is a downfall that has been with us for a long time. Most monarchies in the world are going to die out in this century,” concludes Kleynhans.
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