In an event that made headlines across British media, King Charles III was heckled along with Camilla, Queen Consort, on Friday the 16th, while the two were touring Welsh in the run-up to Charles’s accession to the British throne. In fact, this was only the latest in a series of anti-monarchy events that have taken place in the UK, as details about the accession and its pageantry are becoming known to the public.
Rising Anti-Monarchy Protests
“Not My King” has become the slogan of the anti-monarchy movement as videos became viral of a protesting woman holding a placard bearing the slogan was moved away by the police. In fact, #NotMyKing became one of the top Twitter trends for several days. While grief for the loss of Queen Elizabeth II has united the people, not only in the UK but across the Commonwealth, there is visible discontent about a new monarch taking her place, the “only lawful and rightful Liege Lord” King Charles III, especially among those who stand for democracy. Symon Hill was bold enough to ask, “Who elected him?” Sadly, for him, he was overheard by the police, who arrested him immediately, only to release him shortly afterwards.
In the Wales incident, an unidentified man approached Charles, recording everything on his mobile camera, and said, “Charles! While we struggle to heat our homes we have to pay for your parade. The taxpayer pays £100 million for you, and for what?” While Charles quickly moved on, the man was not arrested. However, the incident became viral on social media.
The Government’s High-Handed Response
As peaceful anti-royal protests become common and more widespread, the police have begun arresting protestors, leading to more criticism of the monarchy. These arrests have exposed the country’s claims about freedom of speech and democratic values that it preaches to other countries.
Is the Monarchy Outdated?
Questions over the monarchy’s role in the United Kingdom are not a new thing. People’s sentiments about the monarchy have varied from love to tolerance and indifference. Many people view it as a national institution and a binding force for the kingdom and Commonwealth. Others have denounced it as incongruous within a democratic setup, calling for the UK to become a republic. However, these are not the concerns driving the anti-monarchy protests for now. It is the economy.
UK Under Immense Economic Strain
The UK taxpayers’ money, in this era of inflation, is going to foot the bill for King Charles III accession parade. While the details received so far suggest that the event will cost less than what Queen Elizabeth II’s ceremony cost in 1953, it is clear that the public is not going to have it.
In August 2022, the UK inflation rate hit 10.1 percent, the highest in 4 decades. The main reason for this is the increase in global energy costs and food shortages due to supply chain disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, with winters around the corner, and with no viable alternative to Russian gas, which has been virtually banned since June this year, public anger is palpable. Why should they pay out of their pockets for the Royal Family’s ceremony and pageantry?
The Monarchy’s Ugly Past—and Future
People have gone back to the UK’s colonial history and its current legacy to expose the monarchy’s role in promoting slavery, genocide, and famine in the British colonies. Despite committing these egregious atrocities, the monarchy thrived alongside parliamentary sovereignty, which is nothing more than a reflection of double standards.
Why does Britain not question its own monarchy when it criticizes monarchies, dictatorships and oligarchies around the world? Despite the so-called parliamentary system, the Queen and King hold vast prerogative powers. The uncodified constitution has only sustained the relevance of the UK monarch even in the 21st century. At the same time, the royals enjoy unjustifiable arbitrary powers, perks, and privileges that are beyond imagination.
Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral has been terms as the largest gathering of world leaders, a stark reminder of the UK’s colonial past. The participation of the Commonwealth nations alongside other world leaders symbolizes that former slave nations who got their independence from the Empire still live under the influence of Britain.