British Royal Family: Towards a Handover of Power?

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Le 6 juin prochain aura lieu le 70e anniversaire du débarquement en Normandie des forces alliées. La cérémonie, à laquelle assisteront la Reine Elisabeth II ainsi que son fils et héritier le Prince de Galles, aura certainement un rôle symbolique pour la Royauté.

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From the June 5 to 7, Queen Elizabeth II will attend the events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The Queen will attend with the Duke of Edinburgh (her husband), her son Charles and other head of states such as Barack Obama and François Hollande. They will stay at the Élysée Palace in Paris and travel to Normandy for the June 6 celebrations.

The last visit of the now 87-year-old Queen in France was in 2004 for the 60th anniversary of the same event. The royal couple is traveling less and less abroad, as both have suffered illness in the past years. Their last trip was in October 2011 in Australia. This trip revived rumors to the effect that it may be her last trip abroad as The Sunday Times mentions. In fact, long-distance flights are very tiring for the old couple. Some think that the Queen could abdicate, following the example of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands who did it last year. Some even bet on it, as on the website Coral. There are two options: either her heir Prince Charles will be the new king or he will step aside in favor of his son Prince William who is more popular with the people – a very unlikely option, given that Charles has waited decades to become King. However, The Telegraph refuses to consider this possibility as the Queen stated in 1947 that she would serve her country and the Commonwealth until her death. It is therefore more than likely that Prince Charles will shoulder his responsibilities in due time only.

He was very unpopular during Lady Diana’s misfortunes, but today he enjoys some resurgence of popularity thanks to his zeal and his increasing will to catch media attention. In May 2013, 50 % of the British people (37 % in 2012) considered that Prince Charles would be a good king, according to the YouGov institute. Nevertheless, he is not (yet) loved as much as the Queen is. But he has been working relentlessly for a few months. Prince Charles took over the presidency of the Commonwealth (whose last summit was in Sri Lanka last year), thus replacing his mother who had been absent for the first time since 1971.

Within a year, between 2012 and 2013, he went on 769 official visits and his numerous charities raised about £140 million. This bright and sudden activity may explain a future change. Moreover, there is another significant fact: Prince Charles’ press office left Clarence House (his current home) in January for Buckingham Palace. The two offices have merged in order to “coordinate” their actions and “prepare Charles to become King”.

What is most likely is that the Monarchy will evolve profoundly after the death of the Queen. Furthermore, the Commonwealth is about to be reshaped. Jamaica just initiated procedures to leave it, Australia alluded to the possibility of turning into a republic after she dies. And even if  Kings and Queens succeed each other, the Monarchy can lose its strength.

Indy DOUSSINET & Tommy LEVY PAPE

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