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Sight Magazine – Essay: What to expect from the reign of King Charles III

The sad news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II marks the beginning of the reign of King Charles III. The transition period has already raised questions about whether we can expect the new king to be “interventionist”.

These concerns are based on several incidents that have occurred over the years. As Prince of Wales, Charles was outspoken about political issues and was found to have lobbied ministers on matters of personal interest. More recently, concerns have been expressed about a cash donation the former Prime Minister of Qatar has done to the Prince’s charities.

Britain’s King Charles III looks on outside Buckingham Palace, following the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, in London, Britain September 9, 2022. PHOTO: Reuters/Toby Melville

However, the reality of the new king’s reign should be very different and far less controversial. Here’s why:

The role of a constitutional monarchy
If King Charles III is now Head of State, this State remains a constitutional monarchy. This means that the ability to make and pass laws belongs to the elected parliament alone. Since the reign of King John and the 1215 Magna Carta signing, the United Kingdom had a system of monarchy limited by law. The monarch must give “royal assent” to a bill before it becomes law, but these days this is seen as a formality and custom, rather than a process involving actual input from the monarch.

“For the system to survive, the king must be an uncontroversial figure and remain politically neutral. History tells us what happens when a monarch tries to wield too much arbitrary power.”

For the system to survive, the king must be an uncontroversial figure and remain politically neutral. History tells us what happens when a monarch tries to wield too much arbitrary power. For example, the tension between the Crown and its subjects manifested itself when King Charles I entered Parliament in 1642 to arrest parliamentarians for treason. Revolution followed and for a short time Britain became a Republic.

The crown was restored in 1660 with King Charles II. But the bill of rights passed in 1689coupled with the the proclamation case of 1611 which states that a king cannot make laws without the consent of Parliament, forces the Crown to accept the will of the democratically elected parliament at the time.

In concrete terms, the new King is perfectly aware of the change he must now make. Constitutional conventions that did not apply to him when he was a prince must now guide his every action as king. When it comes to political interference, the king has made it clear that he knows his approach must now be different. During his interview for his 70th birthday in 2018 he said: “I’m not that stupid. I realize that it’s a separate exercise to be sovereign. So, of course, I fully understand how it should work. The idea that I’m going to continue in exactly the same way, if I should pass, it’s complete nonsense.Because the two situations are completely different.

For the monarchy to survive, it must continue to respect constitutional rules. It’s the start of a new era, but one that will largely follow the “regulations” that governed the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

What could change?
The king is supposed to want a reduced official royal family and we expect that role changes are imminent to adjust to 21st century expectations of how much the public would have to pay to keep the royal family going.

When it comes to the Commonwealth realms, one would expect Charles to be more aware of societal changes. As Prince of Wales, he commented at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kagali how the legacy of slavery had to be confronted, stating: “I cannot describe the depth of my personal grief at the suffering of so many, as I continue to deepen my own understanding of the lasting impact of slavery.”

Similarly, Prince William acknowledged, during a visit to Jamaica that “the appalling atrocity of slavery stains our history”. During the visit, he also recognized the right of each Commonwealth state to independently choose their own path, separate from associations with the Royal Family if they so choose. This will be remembered now as the Queen’s passing is likely to reignite debate over whether some jurisdictions wish to continue their association with the Royal Family.

While other departures from Commonwealth states are a inevitabilitythese maneuvers signal that we could see more attempts to try to modernise, reflect a generational shift and make the monarchy appear more progressive and in touch – ultimately for longer-term relevance and survival.

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The challenges ahead
The most daunting challenge the new king will face will be maintaining continuity. Many British and Commonwealth citizens have never known a world without Queen Elizabeth II.

For many, she was the common thread that held the British trade union together. Such was her popularity that even the Scottish National Party agreed that the Queen should continue to be Head of State for some time. hypothetical independent Scotland. The King now faces the task of continuing to be that unifying force.

Throughout her 70-year reign, the United Kingdom has grown accustomed to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II being the one to speak for the country during times of celebration, and in times of loss and grief. The King will have the added challenge of connecting with the national psyche, replacing the Queen’s constant and reassuring presence at the center of national life.The conversation

Stephane Clear is a lecturer in constitutional and administrative law and public procurement at Bangor University. This article is republished from The conversation under Creative Commons license. Read it original article.

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