Our elders say that a person who squats for too long attracts a variety of unwarranted flies. Of course, they were talking about open defecation. These days, barring snakes; business is washed down the soak away before a fly gets the chance to perch. It is not Her Royal Majesty; Queen Elizabeth II of England’s fault that she lived long and remained sentient for 70 years of her reign on the throne of her forebears. In England, blue blood is inherited, not by transfusion.
This is why nobody bothered as England hired 73-year-old King Charles III. This job carries with it pomp, fanfare and loads of benefits. A hired king serves for life and gets to choose who succeeds him. It is the dream of many an African despot but one that only a few get to dictate.
In essence, King Charles III is hired for life. Except he abdicates the throne, the sceptre of England and headship of the Commonwealth is his, with Camilla as Queen Consort. One of the Queen’s last pleas to her subjects was to treat Camilla with love and respect. Fate is a beast that drives people to their predestination.
The passage of England’s longest ruler threw the entire globe into a frenetic frenzy. Editors and content creators are struggling to direct royal searches to content they believe would interest them while selling their curated contents.
In the battle for relevant and enduring content, Internet search engines are awash with material explaining the splendour of royalty, its role in guiding humanity into modernity to umbrage by those who consider it arcane therefore want it abolished.
As encomiums are poured on the era of Queen Elizabeth II, there are those who upbraid it for its links with modern society’s ills ranging from colonialism through neo-colonialism; the entrenchment of slavery, gross inequality and racism to war mongering and the bad effects of capitalism.
In the past week, bloggers and content creators have produced more materials on Queen Elizabeth in her death than they probably did in the 70 years of her reign or the 96 years of her life on earth. That is unpaid advertisement for any institution in a 24-hour global news cycle. It is bound to continue way into her final internment and the first weeks of her successor’s reign.
In the midst of all these, royal lovers continue to pour encomiums on their beloved Queen; lining the streets to see her hearse pass and granting florists the post-Covid business boom they needed as thousands flood royal castles bringing flowers and words of praise. King Charles, the royal mourner is getting his first tour of his territory in the process.
Nobody heads a monarchy that dates back to the 10th century without carrying the cross of its mistakes. So yes, to those who have thrown shades on an empire that saw the sun set and watched it rise on modernity and democracy both at home and within its realms.
Little wonder that critics, historians, academics and bystanders have aired their views on a force that once controlled two thirds of the world as we know it today. In a world that contrasts royal opulence with the unconscionable squalor splattered across the globe; many have berated the monarchy for where it plunged the world today.
As the head of the Anglican establishment, critics have faulted the Queen’s inability to stop wars, end carnage and destruction and put a stop to famine with her immense wealth. They have expressed disappointment that she had not apologised for the role of her forebears in slavery and her governments in entrenching apartheid and inequality.
Monarchs are born to follow norms, hardly ever to alter them. That role is mostly left in the hands of the political class. Most monarchs are slaves to the system they serve. Princess Elizabeth had to marry a Greek prince, not any man of her choice.
Mothers want the best for their children, but Prince Charles, as he then was, had his natural choice for a wife blocked for the hand of a virgin for whom he apparently had little affection. The rest, as they say, is history finally repeating itself.
Very few of King Charles’ siblings have lived according to the dictates of their hearts. They are royal, but slaves of orders established before they were born. Such is the lot of many a prince or princess.
When Harry, the Duke of Sussex chose to break the rules, he knew he had to drop the perks that come with it. Things have not gone too well for the Queen’s favourite grandson, but she has not loved him any less. Harry had to break royal protocol to settle with his heartthrob in America from where he reciprocated his love for his grandma by naming his daughter Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor sealing his love for his grandmother and the mother he barely knew.
As the saying goes, the acts of the late Queen, her faults and her successes, behold they are written in the books of the annals of the Kings and Queens of England. It is too late for her to make amends, but it is not too late for the institution that raised her and has now raised a son in her stead.
She has gone beyond human reproach or correction, while the throne she inherited and has now bequeathed to her son is imbued with powers to right some of the wrongs. If he perceives them as wrongs, he has the will to make them right. If he does not, it’ll be on him.
Queen Elizabeth II broke some historical records in her lifetime. From Winston Churchill to Liz Truss she took the oath of allegiance of 15 Prime Ministers of Britain, and 179 of her realms and territories.
John Truss, the father of the last of her chief servants, Liz Truss, was two years old when the Queen began to reign. His daughter would be the last official to pump Her Majesty’s hand before her death 48 hours later. She would be the last prime minister to serve a Queen and a King within three days of being sworn in. She came at a time when her Conservative Party and the British democracy was on the brink putting her hands on the sceptre of history.
That the world had this much to say about the Queen and about royalty a week after her death brings out the truth about the ditty – the monarchy is dead, long live the King.
Let us hope that the reign of King Charles III is long, peaceful and buoyant. Let us hope that he becomes a King that builds bridges and repairs torn ramparts. If he does, maybe, just maybe, the sun that once set on the Empire might rise again, bringing it back to glory and restoring its strength, splendour and majesty. Whenever an empire rights their wrong; that is when its glory begins to truly shine.