Voices of the People and the British Monarchy
by Victoria Tan
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when people talk about the Royal Family? For most people, it’s Queen Elizabeth II and the British Royal Family. Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning monarch in British history, now in her 67th year in throne, she is loved by not only her people, but others from all over the world. But it hasn’t always been this way. After the death of the well-loved Princess Diana, there was quite a fuss about whether the Royal Family should remain the heads of state of Britain or not, and at the time people believed the newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair was going to bring a change to Britain. The idea of “republicanism” is when people want to replace the monarchy with a republic (Norbauer and Studlar 225), and at the time of Diana’s death, many people were turning towards this idea. They wanted to get rid of the monarchy because they are seen as the “irrelevant monarchy” (Leader), which cost millions of taxpayers money to do nothing, and they were also seen as heartless human beings that are old-fashioned.
After the death of Diana, the Queen was very indifferent and refused to make a public statement because Diana was not a royal anymore, and the Queen was raised to be professional, have dignity, and not show too many personal opinions; she is known for her “stiff upper lip”. But as the event goes on, she realized that the world is different now than when she first took the throne. People wanted to see her emotions, and people wanted a Queen that was blood and flesh.
This was when the Queen and the Royal Family realized that it was time for a change, they needed to adapt to the changing world and satisfy people’s needs. So Queen Elizabeth II decided that it was time to change some of their traditions, the most significant actions that they took after Diana’s death was 1) they put the Union Jack at half mast above the Buckingham palace, 2) the Queen made a public statement on live television regarding Diana’s death, and 3) Diana was given a public funeral. These were seen not only as acts to respond to the people’s suggestion, but also seen as a way in which the Royal Family was willing to modernize.
The movie The Queen gives us a sense of what happened to Queen Elizabeth II during this event. The reason why the British Royal Family is the most popular of them all was the fact that they were willing to adapt and change. Throughout the centuries, they were always making adjustments and that is why they were able to survive till this day, which is also the reason why most British showed their support of the royal family and the idea of a republic is not well-supported.
There are several changes that could be seen today, for instance, they learned that social media is an important tool for people to keep up with them. Now, they are all over the internet platforms, from Facebook to Instagram, they are always sharing their lives with us, and their information can be easily accessed (Elliott). On their social media accounts we can always see pictures from royal’s visits to the adorable pictures of baby George and his siblings. Not only is their social media a place to share their daily life, people can also see their updates and public statements. Another change that they made was showing their emotions, unlike the Queen, Prince William and Harry are in the spotlights with their weddings, marriage, and babies; they are more down to earth than the previous royals (Elliott). This creates a connection between them and the people, which made them relatable. From what the British Monarchy is doing now, it won’t be going away anytime soon.
- Elliott, Larry. “How the Royal Family Killed off Republicanism..” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 13 June 2019.
- “Leader: The Irrelevant Monarchy.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 6 Dec. 2000.
- Norbauer, Ryan, and Donley T. Studlar. “Monarchy and the British Political Elite: Closet Republicans in the House of Commons.” Comparative Politics, vol. 43, no. 2, 2011, pp. 225–242.