The world received the devastating news that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away last week at age 96 after a history-making 70 years on the throne of the United Kingdom and its realms. The moment the Queen passed, her eldest son, formerly Charles, Prince of Wales, became King Charles III, the fifth monarch in the House of Windsor.
News coverage about the Queen’s death has been abundant, discussing the details of the funeral and changes within the royal family — including updates about the new King taking the throne, and statesmen and leaders around the world remarking on the late Queen and new King.
Most, if not all, articles I have read reference the late Queen as a beacon of stability. This phrase made me ponder the United Kingdom’s political and economic future now that their anchor is gone. Given the tremendous change over just the past week, it’s difficult to fathom the degree of transition that will take place in the coming months without the Queen. However, there are several prospective versions of the near future that seem most likely.
Politically speaking, the United Kingdom has witnessed great turmoil recently, which culminated in former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to step down. In fact, just days before the Queen’s death, the Monarch officially approved the new prime minister, Liz Truss. Now, in the wake of this period of political commotion, there is suddenly a new King, which could potentially generate some disturbance again.
Charles III is known for being politically outspoken, very unlike his mother. Elizabeth II made a point of remaining apolitical in her lifetime. She was a true model for the role of Head of State, which, in most countries, is a position that is meant to be nonpartisan and, as such, representative of all the people.
I wonder if Charles III will now choose political impartiality in his new role as Head of State or if he will continue to be politically outspoken as he has been historically. If he chooses the latter, it could have a major impact on the United Kingdom in the coming years, as a politically assertive King would alter the role of the monarch in the present and in the future from an apolitical figurehead to a vocal member of the British government.
With respect to financial matters, one must consider that instability frequently introduces economic change, and that change is typically negative.
In the absence of the stability the Queen provided for seven decades, and as the new royal order establishes itself, there is bound to be an economic effect on the country. Britain was already forced to endure Brexit in 2020, leaving the country in great economic turmoil. Who knows how the British economy would have fared then if the Queen had not been around to assert some form of security.
Another economic side effect to consider is the Queen’s popularity versus Charles’s lack thereof. The Royal Family, and in particular the tourism it generates, is a major source of income for the United Kingdom. While there are many extremely popular members of the family such as William, Prince of Wales and his wife Princess Catherine, the Queen’s popularity is the highest.
Charles III unfortunately has fared less well with the public favor, primarily due to his chaotic, failed marriage with Princess Diana and his scandalous, beleaguered relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, now Queen Consort.
It remains to be seen how or whether the public, which so loved Diana —posthumously named by then Prime Minister Tony Blair “the People’s Princess” — will embrace Charles as King. Charles III’s ability to transition successfully into his new role has the potential to alter the Royal Family’s popularity, and in turn, the British economy.
In the last several decades, the monarchy of the United Kingdom has not had a political role in British society. However, with the Queen’s death, it’s evident their global influence played a larger role in politics than we ever truly realized. I will continue to watch closely as the United Kingdom experiences this cultural transformation brought on by the death of their beloved Queen. And with that, I say farewell to the wonderful, legendary Queen Elizabeth II. May she rest in peace, and long live the new King.