How Charles will rule after Queen Elizabeth’s death – She was head of state of the United Kingdom and 14 other countries, some of whom have considered switching to a republic. The role of the monarchy outside of the UK is controversial as countries won their independence with revolutions against British colonial rule.
That’s not to say the role of the monarchy inside the UK has not been contentious. The death of Queen Elizabeth, aged 96, has been met with praise, but her reign was more than often overshadowed by scandals involving her family.
These varied from public anger over taxpayer money going to the royal institution to the many cases of infidelity among the Queen’s family to the series of racism reports.
One of the biggest scandals involves her second son Prince Andrew, who faced allegations of sexual assault by a minor. The child accused Andrew and his billionaire friend, Jeffrey Epstein of keeping her as a slave. In an infamous TV interview, Andrew said that he had no regrets about his association with Epstein. This statement received enormous public backlash.
The Queen’s grandson Harry and his wife Megan launched a devastating attack on the Queen’s family in a TV interview, which included allegations of racism which linger on today and Meghan saying she had been pushed to the brink of suicide.
There have been scandals involving infidelity, including Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister Princess Margaret, allegations surrounding her husband Prince Philip and her eldest son and heir to the throne King Charles when he was married to his former wife Diana.
The revelations of King Charles’s infidelity during his marriage to Diana made him extremely unpopular in the public eye.
In June expensive celebrations in the UK marking the Queen’s 70 years on the throne came against the backdrop of soaring bills for families across the country, with inflation rising to record levels and energy and fuel prices sky-rocketing.
While ordinary Brits have been forced to cut their spending, the budget of senior British monarchy members such as the late Queen and King Charles have continued to rise over the years.
Last year taxpayers forked out £102.4 million to fund expenses such as travel, the upkeep of palaces and the family’s official duties that involve shaking hands with the public and flying abroad. The figure is up more than 17 percent on the previous year with campaigners saying the family’s finances are indefensible.
The campaign group Republic denounced the expenses saying “as always, while the rest of us face a cost-of-living crisis and continued squeezes on public services, the royals walk off with hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. We need to put the monarchy on a proper budgetary footing, just like any other public body. We need to slash that budget down to below £10m, and only fund what’s required for the functions of the head of state.”
The accession of King Charles to the throne has put the spotlight on the 73-year-old’s own finances. Charles flew between his royal homes at an average cost of £15,000 a time for the taxpayer. This is despite being seen in public campaigning on environmental issues.
King Charles has controversial links to the terrorist al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s family. Reports show Charles sat down with Bin Laden’s brothers and accepted a one point two-million-dollar donation. The meeting is said to have taken place shortly after Bin Laden died.
Charles is reported to have agreed to the donation toward his charity despite objections from his advisers.
The news came just a month after King Charles was accused of accepting bags of cash amounting to more than 3 million dollars from a senior Qatari politician.
It is still not clear what exactly this money was used for; the charity claims the money was passed on to another account immediately. Reports say the King’s advisor hand counted the cash.
In February police said they had begun an investigation into another of Charles’s charities after reports emerged that honors were offered to a Saudi national in return for donations.
King Charles’ accession has also led to renewed calls for former colonies in the Caribbean to remove the monarch as their head of state and for Britain to pay slavery reparations. There are doubts in the region about the role a distant monarch should play in the modern day.
The chair of the Bahamas National Reparations Committee, Niambi Hall-Campbell, says “as the role of the monarchy changes, we expect this can be an opportunity to advance discussions of reparations for our region.”
European nations forced more than ten million Africans into the Atlantic slave trade up until the 19th century. Those who survived the brutal voyage were forced to labor on plantations in the Caribbean and the Americas.
Jamaican reparations advocate Rosalea Hamilton said an acknowledgment by King Charles at the Kigali conference about slavery offered “some degree of hope that he will learn from the history, understand the painful impact that many nations have endured till today” and address the need for reparations.
Charles make no mention of reparations in the speech he made at Kigali. The Advocates Network, which Hamilton coordinates, published an open letter calling for “apologies and reparations”.
Last year, Jamaica’s government announced plans to ask Britain for compensation for forcibly transporting an estimated 600,000 Africans to work on sugar cane and banana plantations that made British slaveholders extremely rich.
Jamaica has signaled it may soon follow Barbados in ditching royal rule. A survey showed the majority of Jamaicans favor ditching the British monarch.
Mikael Phillips, an opposition member of Jamaica’s parliament, in 2020 filed a motion backing the removal. “I am hoping as the prime minister had said in one of his expressions, that he would move faster when there is a new monarch in place,” he said.
To get a picture of how King Charles will possibly rule, one of the clearest ideas comes from secret memos between the new king and senior government ministers released in 2015 after a long legal battle won by the Guardian newspaper.
They revealed the extent of lobbying King Charles had pursued with the government of then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2004 and 2005.
The memos show how he demanded Blair and other top government figures take immediate action to improve recourses for the British army fighting in Iraq, 18 months after the UK joined America and invaded the West Asian country.
Other lobbying attempts revealed in the memos led to criticism over the heir’s meddling in politics but also indicate how Charles plans to be more outspoken than Queen Elizabeth.
The same year, another legal battle paved the way for the release of government papers that showed Charles has been receiving secret cabinet papers for decades, making him privy to the government’s inner workings.
At a time of growing inequality, many are asking why does Britain have a wealthy, controversial royal family? Over the years the public opinion, especially among the younger generation, has shifted towards abolishing the undemocratic institution.