Recent scandals involving Prince Andrew and Harry and Meghan’s Megxit have been predicted as the end of the monarchy by some quarters of the media but, given that the abolition of the monarchy would require a clear majority in a referendum, it would require more than an annus horriblis to unseat the crown.
There are those who believe that the love for the monarchy is actually a love for the Queen and that, when the Queen dies, the monarchy might not enjoy the same support when Prince Charles becomes king. These people would do well to remember that King Edward VII was involved in many scandals while Queen Victoria was alive but that when she died he became a very popular monarch.
The popularity of the Queen in in part due to her refusal to get involved in politics, the very reason for criticism of Prince Charles. However, it is not impossible to imagine situations in which a monarch could be criticised for either meddling in politics or not meddling in politics. In any case, Charles insists that he will not meddle so one would have to assume a situation in which the Government attempted to pass a piece of legislation which was universally unpopular but which nevertheless had been passed by parluament and therefore, constitutionally, required Royal assent, the monarch, performing their constitutional duty could inadvertently align themselves with an unpopular Government and it is not unimaginable that both could then be removed, remember King Charles I. It would be ironic if the only times in British history a monarch was removed was under a monarch named Charles, though I do hope they don’t behead him this time.
Another factor in the likelihood of the UK becomming a republic is the monarchy’s willingness to fulfill their role. In 2017, Prince Harry told Newsweek: “Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.” George VI famously did not want to be King but had little option when his brother abdicated. This thrust the current Queen into the line of succession, something that she, no doubt, had not desired.
The difference between these previous monarchs performing their duties and potential future monarchs doing the same would be if there was an increasing sympathy with the republican cause, this has let to reveal itself.
A big barrier to republicanism is the thought of who might become president. Tony Blair? Nigel Farage? Another accelerant would be if Scotland or even Northern Ireland successfully devolved.
And then there is the question of the Commonwealth. Many members of the Commonwealth might welcome the abolition of the monarchy but there is also the possibility that the UK could vote to abolish the monarchy while some Commonwealth nations opt to retain the monarch as their head of state. What would happen in that situation?
In my current work in progress, a prequel to my dystopian novel, WHEN THE WELL RUNS DRY, an increasingly authoritarian government takes the death of the King as an opportunity to transfer the monarch’s powers to the Prime Minister who becomes defacto president. The move follows a decades long political slide to right but is not unimaginable.