By Malakai Wade
The perceptions of the monarchy hold strong even during Brexit, when the country is divided, people are voting tactically to stem the chaos, and the future of the UK as a union is also in question.
The Prince and Epstein
There are other issues that could have a larger effect on the perception and reputation of the royal family, even more so than the parliament proroguing. These issues are ones that the media, especially the tabloids and drama-media, will jump on. Issues such as why Prince Andrew recently stepped down from all public duties.
Prince Andrew gave this interview to BBC New Nights several weeks ago about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. In the interview, which is about 50 minutes long, the interviewer asked Prince Andrew many questions regarding his visits to Epstein’s houses in the US, his alleged involvement with underage trafficked girls, and why he continued a friendship with a convicted pedophile. Prince Andrew vehemently denied ever knowing Epstein’s involvement with trafficking and also said he never met nor had sexual relations with Virginia Giuffre, the women now accusing him of exactly that.
This issue has become viral quickly, as many stories that connect to the Me Too movement and issues regarding trafficking tend to do.
In a recent blog post, Professor Robert Hazell from University College London detailed six lessons the modern monarchy can learn following the events that lead to Prince Andrew leaving his public role. Hazell explains that modern monarchy has survived mostly by quickly disconnecting with royals who step out of line and paying close attention to public opinion.
The first, and for this article, most applicable lesson is “keep the Firm small.” In this Hazell points out that the larger the royal family, the higher the risk for someone to cause trouble that could damage the royal reputation. He compares Norway, who only have four royal family members, to the UK, who now have 14 active members. However, the UK is a much larger country and the royal family has more engagements and duties to fulfil. However, a balance must be met, so there is a possibility that in years to come, there could be a trimming of royal titles.
“Prince Charles has been reported as wishing to strip down the royal family to just himself, his children and their wives, and his grandchildren,” wrote Hazell, referencing a Daily Mail article from earlier in December.
Professor Hazell was contacted but unfortunately unavailable for an interview.
We Could See another Scottish Referendum after Brexit
In 2014, Scotland had a referendum and asked its citizens if they wanted to leave the United Kingdom. Nearly half of them did, but it wasn’t enough to pass.
Two years later the Scottish people voted by a sizable majority for the UK to stay in the European Union. However, those “remain” votes weren’t good enough to accomplish that when compared with England and the rest of the UK.
So what will Scotland do now? According to the Institute for Government, the government in Scotland believes that the country should be given a choice between the UK and the EU when it comes to Brexit and that they are being dragged through Brexit against their will.
The Scottish government may want another referendum before 2021. However, they must gain approval from the UK government, and Boris Johnson has claimed that he will not grant them another referendum while he is in office. He stated that this was because they already had their referendum in 2014. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently confirmed that she plans on asking the UK government for another referendum before the end of the year.
From a political point of view, the solidarity between the nations that make up the UK must be held together for the UK to function as a whole. In the chapter, “The United Kingdom” from the book “Solidarity as a Public Virtue?,” Tom Montgomery and Simone Baglioni detail the political-institutional complexities of the relationships between the nations in the UK. The book states that, “solidarity is a legal and constitutional principle in European countries.”
One of the main points of solidarity that holds England and Scotland together is the ruling monarch as the head of state over both countries. In “Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland” published by the Scottish Government in late 2013, the country stated that: “Scotland will remain within the Union of the Crowns with Her Majesty The Queen as our head of state, but we will have a modern, written constitution. And the social ties between Scotland and the rest of the UK will continue and thrive.”
“If and when there is a second independence referendum, I have a feeling that, you know, the question of a head of state will either be open, or that the SNP might even be more forthright about looking to move away from monarchy,” explained Anthony Salamone, a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh who focuses on EU, UK, and Scottish politics.
Brexit could be the tipping point for the Scottish government and more people who want to finally leave the United Kingdom.
For more information, listen to the audio story below.