With the death of Queen Elizabeth, some are calling for the British monarchy to pass into another era as well. The new King Charles III and Prince William, the new Prince of Wales, have their work cut out for them politically, in the public relations arena, and within their own family, to ensure The Firm (as the Royal Family is known internally) remains a going concern in the minds of the British public. In an excerpt from her new book The New Royals, Vanity Fair royal correspondent Katie Nicoll outlined a number of urgent problems Charles and William must solve to keep the commonwealth together and ensure the Crown will endure. Here are five of the most pressing.
In her 70-year reign, Queen Elizabeth engendered loyalty and affection among the nations of the British Commonwealth. But when Charles is officially crowned, some countries might re-evaluate whether the relationship makes sense in the modern era. “There are many people in countries like New Zealand and Australia who feel the need for a hereditary monarchy, with its seat thousands of miles away on another continent, dies with” Elizabeth, Nicholl writes.
Closest to home, Charles wants to ensure that Scotland doesn’t secede from the UK. “His absolute preoccupation is keeping the union intact,” a close friend told Nicholl. “His view is that if he ends up being the King of England, then the kingdom would be diminished and it would become a huge issue in terms of our global status.”
King Charles is in his 70s. Prince William and Kate Middleton are likely to assume the titles of king and queen in middle age. They will need to “find a way to reawaken that deep old magic,” of the monarchy, “offering a sense of continuity along with their modernity,” says Nicholl. “Showing off their photogenic family, as they are doing more and more, is one way of accomplishing just this.”
“The appealing prospect of King William and Queen Catherine with Prince George next in line may quell any rumblings of discontent in a country reigned over by an aging King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla,” she adds.
The future of the British Royal Family “lies in the hands of three white men, and that is a fundamental problem in a diverse country such as Britain and across the countries of the Commonwealth too,” writes Nicholl. “Meghan played a huge part in relieving some of this tension; the loss of all she represents as a biracial woman in the Royal Family, as well as her energy and talent, has had a real impact.”
The rift between William and Harry has been highly public, and if it continues, it could be damaging to the Crown. “The brothers’ estrangement also threatens to cast a shadow over Charles’s reign and possibly William’s. Charles knows his public reputation could suffer if he is seen to be turning his back on his youngest son,” writes Nicholl. “Those close to Charles say he won’t stop trying to heal the rift with his son, as he made sure Harry and Meghan were by the family’s side at the queen’s funeral.”
“He is hurt and disappointed, but he has always said his love for Harry is unconditional,” says a friend, adding that Charles also wants to be an active grandparent to Harry’s children.