Time to Modernize

As the monarchy of the United Kingdom will soon see many changes, modernization efforts must not be ignored.

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image courtesy of @kensingtonroyal via Instagram

The current royal family appears to be a perfect institution on the outside, but there are significant problems within.

Lucie Flagg, Co-Editor-in-Chief

I am incredibly intrigued by the monarchy of the United Kingdom. As an American, I’ve simply been taught about their glitz and glam, and I have always overlooked the true trouble within. Maybe it’s because I’m not built to comprehend the purpose of a national church, but nevertheless, the passing of Prince Phillip brought forth a new understanding to me.

To be quite frank, I think the current monarchy is a toxic environment that reinforces outdated standards. It’s an institution created by the Church of England that creates an idealistic picture of life for people to emulate. This ideal, however, is not striving for modernization but rather reinforcing the use of these outdated ideas. 

There is a long history of anti-divorce patterns within the monarchy. Edward VIII abdicated the crown to his younger brother, Queen Elizabeth II’s father, because he fell in love with an American divorcee. Likewise, the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, was denied marriage to the man she fell in love with because he was divorced as well. These are just two examples of many in which divorce has created havoc in the royal establishment. It makes sense that it is frowned upon, considering the sanctity of marriage in the Church, but it also offers an archaic ideology to a large group of commonwealth nations. 

It’s clear that the morals in the monarchy are different from those when Queen Elizabeth II began her reign in 1952, but the underlying principles remain. Her grandson, Prince Harry, married an American divorcee, Meghan Markle, over 80 years after his great-great-uncle was pushed out of royalty for the same thing. Even though it was technically a permissible marriage this time, the toxic attitude that the monarchy continued to project led the couple to give up their royal duties, as Markle was abused by both the press and the royal family. Prince Harry was in fact pressured out of his role just like Edward VIII, but the premise of the event made the royal institution appear to be the victim rather than the cause.

The monarchy is simply an image—an image that others shouldn’t be shamed for defying. As someone who has been raised by divorced parents, I can say with confidence that, though divorce is not ideal, it shouldn’t be such a taboo. By separating in marriage, each of my parents was able to seek their own happiness, creating a much more loving childhood for me. 

The monarchy is simply an image—an image that others shouldn’t be shamed for defying.”

Surprisingly, I’m not anti-monarchy. In fact, I love it. The family that must not publicize their opinions stirs up the most drama. From the outside of it all, drama amid the glamour is entertaining, but within the boundaries of the United Kingdom, it’s dangerous. 

On a public scale, the monarchy has immense influence. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II is the most admired woman in the UK and the third most admired worldwide. From the moment she became first in line for the throne in 1936, she was bred to be a servant to the Church, so in a sense, the modernization that has occurred on the surface during her reign is impressive. But the real issues that need to be tackled aren’t always visible from the outside—they’re internal and much more intricate. 

After the recent passing of the Queen’s husband, Prince Phillip, the inevitable Operation London Bridge is a much more prevalent thought. This operation is the plan for what happens when Queen Elizabeth II passes. At that time, a civil servant will call the Prime Minister saying the simple words, “London Bridge is down.” What follows will be a period of nationwide mourning over the tragic loss. The passing of the Queen will, of course, be a tremendously sad and emotional time, but we mustn’t look at it as a loss. 

She has made history as the longest-reigning monarch in history and has been an image of wealth and status for many decades. But upon her death, Prince Charles, who will become King, has some very important decisions to make. He knows firsthand the complexities of relationships through his marriages with the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. He can choose to reinforce the outdated standards, or he can work to make the perceivably absurd behaviors normal. 

The royal institution will be seeing changes in the upcoming years that haven’t been seen since the mid-1900s. As Americans, we need to support those from the UK, as most have only ever known life under the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. It will be, and partially already is, a shocking event. But I see it as a new opportunity—one that I hope the future King takes advantage of. 

Americans tend to ridicule the royal family, as it’s a culture that we’re not used to. The difference between our two nations largely exist in unwritten social standards and practices. If the monarchy continues to reinforce their outdated ideologies, its support may diminish quickly. We must learn to respect this culture while continuing to acknowledge the discrepancies and threats that remain within it.