“What do they do for us?” one answered, “I just don’t see the point of a royal family!” Another chimed in. A poll conducted by YouGov revealed that “41 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 say Britain should have an elected head of state while only 31% would like to see the monarchy continue”.
Younger people who predominately hold these views are said to be less rooted in tradition and requital of Britain’s colonial past.
Whether or not the platinum jubilee will be the last of the monarchy, it does not change the increasingly indifferent perception of the royal family. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s controversial tour of former British colonies in the Caribbean led to a widespread backlash as protestors saw it as a way to maintain the Queen as the head of state in Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas. The visit reinforced images of royals being held aloft by black “subjects”. Commonwealth member Barbados ditched the queen as a head of state in 2021.
Tensions over the monarchy and the jubilee came to me in an odd observation in my hometown Croydon, South London, when I overheard an eccentric busker shout at a passer-by: “I am not perfect, all I am doing is out here spreading some joy, we all know even the Queen has skeletons in her closet”.
In a space of a few weeks my observations, conversations, and interactions all started to feel like London was speaking to me as I become more attentive to people around me. I was able to grasp sentiments that were felt and continued to be expressed. In hindsight, the modern Britain we have today is one that seems to be gearing towards change when it came to different aspects of society, including the monarchy.
The erosion of the image of the royal family goes deeper than the need to make them accessible. It poses deeper questions about whether past events, such as the allegations against Prince Andrew for sexual abuse, can ever allow members of the public to trust the royals again.
The Meghan and Harry Oprah interview in 2021 with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex also beaconed further claims of racism and discrimination that showed how much the royal family needed to revise its pre-existing values that have been maintained over time.
To keep up to speed with all the latest opinions and comment, sign up to our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter by clicking here
The future of the monarchy rests on the shoulders of the next in line to the throne. It’s not clear if Prince Charles, who will be taking the throne once his mother decides to give it up or die, can pull it off? It will be tough considering the growing change in widespread opinions about the royals.
As one of the longest-lasting institutions in Europe, it’s hard to imagine the UK without a monarchy. Although efforts have been made by Prince William and Kate, who are said to be pushing towards a modernized version of the monarchy, including being addressed by their first name Will and Kate. After spending years in a pandemic coupled with lockdown, this generation’s long-lingering debate of their relevance remains a real-life episode of the crown that we all have to see unravel.
For now, the jubilee celebration offers us an opportunity to come together as a nation however we may choose to mark it. For however long she continues to reign over us, God save the Queen.