British Monarchy in Transition

Can the monarchy move on unperturbed after 70 years of Elizabeth II, the longest reign in UK history, as King Charles III gets enthroned?

By Jan Arden

Three cheers, and a kiss, for new King Charles III outside Buckingham Palace. Pic – NBC News

Having spent a couple of years in the English countryside, around Stratford-on-Avon and the Yorkshire surrounds, I was rapidly to discover the penchant of Brits for the charms of its narrow country roads winding along a green countryside as if they were meant for a nonchalant gentry with time to spare and a quirkiness to protect against hordes of foreigners bustling with their decimals and metrics.

Not for one moment would they have given up the unusual mathematical base in cricket or lawn tennis scores or the shifty bases embedded for so long in pounds, shillings and pence, complexities of which kept college students awake for long, until they too yielded to the sounds of modernity and international financial transactions. Decimalisation yes but never would they have considered abandoning the great British pound as national currency in favour of the Euro.

For the nobiliary and military establishment of colonial Britain, personal characteristics demonstrated on a cricket field, the lone stand of the batsman facing the onslaught of a wily bowler supported by his field players, the self-discipline, the front foot batting, the personal sacrifices he sometimes made to last an innings so as to keep his team in play and other such matters were the stuff that dwarfed degrees and qualifications as candidates were assessed for careers in foreign territories and outposts of the Empire.

Many British sociologists ascribe the profound attachment of 75% of ordinary UK citizens with their monarchic symbolism to that underlying sense of being special, of quiet but determined fortitude, of a quirkiness that had to be protected somehow against a world they no longer ruled: Republican values and strength in post-war Britain have never exceeded 20% in all countrywide polls.

The former Queen and the monarchy embodied so much in the most trying of moments, played their ceremonial duties on foreign trips with such grace, that even battered and bruised Britons say forget inherited rights, forgive the fracas of the new generation and say to hell with the heavy taxpayer costs of pomp, pageantry, peers and princely privileges!

Whatever the irrational or emotive reasons for such attachment, can the monarchy move on unperturbed after 70 years of Elizabeth II, the longest reign in UK history, as King Charles III gets enthroned? Will he enjoy the same level of personal attachment if he is tempted, as is his wont, to speak his mind more freely than his mother, whose high personal standing may have something to do with the studious avoidance of any personal views in public as she accomplished her duties? Only time will tell although it is clear that no democratic leader and not even the worst autocrat can aspire to such personal longevity with cherished fondness.

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The benefit of the doubt to the Police

Last week’s editorial here flagged the role and constitutional independence of the Commissioner of Police and, despite swirling questions and allegations of improprieties in the conduct of the drug trafficking case alleged against lawyer Akil Bissessur and his companion, we were tempted to give the institution the benefit of the doubt, if only because the alternative would be too ghastly to consider.

The different aspects being still under inquiry we will abstain from commenting further on the matter, even if we have to note that there are many unanswered disturbing questions, namely the trial by the press. The public condemnation of the suspect on a political soap-box by no less than the Minister of Home Affairs and PM of the country. “We caught him red-handed…” (‘la main dans le sac’) and the collective “he was on our radar for some time” are not the sort of heady declarations that can induce confidence in the Police as an independent institution and raise the distinct possibility of a defence that the suspect’s rights to a fair trial have been compromised through ill-advised public interventions of Special Striking Team police officers and their higher echelons. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 16 September 2022

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