Queen Elizabeth II was the unifying factor that kept the monarchy relevant and Britain still at the helm of the Commonwealth of Nations. But the crown seemingly sits uneasy on her successor.
The death of Queen Elizabeth II after 70 years of ruling the United Kingdom (UK) and the rest of the Commonwealth of Nations is a significant milestone in the history of the UK. It is argued that the throne the Queen inherited is faced with obvious as well as hidden problems and challenges.
The most important challenge, perhaps, is the future of the constitutional monarchy system in the UK. At a time in history when monarchies were shaken, Queen Elizabeth II was the saviour of constitutional monarchy in the UK.
Whether the British monarchy will survive after the Queen, whether the political relationship between the Monarch and the Commonwealth of Nations continue and remain stable during the reign of the new King, and what will bring the monarchy's new era to British foreign policy towards the commonwealth nations?
These are just a few of the many questions that come to the fore at the beginning of a new era of British monarchy. That being said, perspectives on the Constitution of the monarchy, existing trends for the disintegration of monarchy, and the relationship of the UK with the Commonwealth of Nations are three significant challenges facing the Constitution of this country.
The constitutional monarchy
Although the British constitutional monarchy system has degraded the position of the monarch to some extent, the monarchy and the person of the king or the queen have at least two aspects of importance and function.
The first is the identity-building function of the constitution of the monarchy in the British political and social system.
Today, the constitution of monarchy in Britain is more than anything a symbol of the long years of British supremacy in the European continent, the period of colonisation and Britain’s rule over most regions of the world. In particular, the constitution is the political and historical connection point of England with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which forms the territory of the UK.
The second function of constitutional monarchy is political, and when there is a political and administrative deadlock, the king or queen plays a role. For instance, although the authority to form a government in England is usually given to the leader of the winning party in the parliamentary elections, if there is no clear winner, the king can appoint the leader of another party to form the government.
However, the royal family is not as cohesive as it used to be, and some consider the limitations of this membership more than its benefits. A poll published last year by Delta Poll found that only 27 percent of respondents support Charles III's monarchy after Queen Elizabeth II's death. Although 18 percent of the participants believed that after Queen Elizabeth, the UK no longer needs a king, it remains to be seen what direction the public opinion will take during the new king's era.
Possibility of disintegration
One of the challenges facing the UK in the realm of the political system and the constitutional monarchy, is the growth of the tendency to divide the territory of the UK.
In almost all of the British territories –including England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland– there are nationalist tendencies and a desire for independence. Probably, with the death of the Queen and the conditions resulting from the destabilisation of the position of the new king, these tendencies will have an opportunity to emerge and strengthen.
Meanwhile, Scotland has special and unique conditions. The 2014 Scottish referendum on whether it should be an independent country or not, with a fragile result of 55 percent against 45 percent in favour, was able to maintain this territory in the UK. But as it seems, supporters of Scottish independence are trying to plan a second referendum soon, the results of which could end the union of this country with the territory of the UK.
There are also serious pro-independence tendencies in Ireland. Even from a historical perspective, after more than 100 years, the division of Ireland into two parts, Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland, by law approved by the British Parliament, can be considered as a wound that has not healed.
Monarchy and Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations consists of more than 50 independent countries that were formerly British colonies and includes important countries such as Australia, South Africa, and Canada. This union was established in 1971 and its purpose is primarily to maintain the political relationship of these countries with Britain and secondly to shape the commercial and economic cooperation of the members.
As in the UK, there is a tendency in the Commonwealth of Nations to break the existing political relationship with the UK. In Australia, for example, a referendum was held for the first time in 1999 regarding independence from the UK, which had a result of 55 percent against and 45 percent in favour.
With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, independence tendencies and the transformation of Australia into a republic have had the opportunity to emerge again. For example, Adam Bunt, the Australian Republican politician, has openly called for moving forward with Australia's total “independence” from Britain.
In the same vein, a survey published last year by the Angus Reid Institute showed that 51 percent of participants agreed with the abolition of the British monarchy in Canada. Although the opinion of the Canadian public regarding the continuation or cancellation of the British monarchy is not unified, probably in the new period of Charles III's reign, pro-independence tendencies in this country will manifest more.
In conclusion, the UK is apparently facing three major challenges in the post-Queen Elizabeth II era: preserving constitutional monarchy, maintaining the territory, and preserving the territory of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The perspective of the constitutional monarchy after the Queen is different from the past in many ways. The fate of the developing tendencies against the constitution of the monarchy, especially the royal family and independence in the far and near territories of this country will be determined depending on the cohesion or weakening of the monarchy.
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