Queen summons crisis meeting to save monarchy

The Firm: The Queen, Charles, William and Harry will meet at Sandringham today. Meghan will join by phone.

Citizen or subject? Republic or monarchy? Questions that were almost unthinkable in the UK, a few months ago, are now being openly discussed. Can today’s urgent royal summit steady the ship?

Sandringham is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as “Sant Dersingham”. William the Conqueror needed it to help pay for an army to protect his throne.

Today, 934 years later, Sandringham is stage to another attempt to shore up the British throne. The Queen has summoned her two immediate heirs, Prince Charles and Prince William, to sit down with Prince Harry. Meghan will phone in from Canada.

She has ordered them to come up with a solution to the crisis that has been tearing the royal family apart for the past five days.

The papers are reporting this morning that Meghan and Harry are threatening a tell-all TV interview if today’s talks fail.

“I have some idea of what might be aired in a full, no-holds-barred, sit-down interview and I don’t think it would be pretty,” writes Tom Bradby, ITV’s royal correspondent, in the Times.

How easy it would be for the tradition-steeped behaviour of the royal family to come across as racist, sexist and not fit for purpose in the modern world.

The public debate is already hostile. One Labour leadership candidate, Clive Lewis, has recently called for a referendum on the future of the royal family.

What do you think? Would you rather live in a monarchy or a republic? Would you rather be a subject or a citizen?

King vs President

A subject, say most British people still. This does not deny us citizenship rights. It merely adds to them. Monarchy represents continuity with the past. It embodies the idea of national identity and gives people something to believe in.

A citizen, say others. It is the 21st Century after all. None of us should be “subjects” today. There are more important things to think about than the soap opera of a privileged out-of-touch family.

You Decide

  1. Would you be happy to live under a presidency – as, for example, in the USA?

Activities

  1. In pairs, choose three countries and then research how the head of state of each of those nations comes to power. Write up notes so that you can make a presentation to the class.

Some People Say...

“Citizens are not born, but made.”

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch philosopher

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Queen Elizabeth II has ruled for 66 years. According to YouGov, only 20% of the British population are against the monarchy. Countries like the USA and France previously revolted against monarchs – they are now republics with elected presidents. The royal family is estimated to bring more money into the country than it takes from the taxpayer.
What do we not know?
What any alternative system to the monarchy might look like in the UK. Whether the royal family might continue in a virtual republic as a purely ceremonial remnant of its former glory, as some have suggested. Whether the British honours system (the knighthoods and medals that are handed out every year) is losing its popularity as well.

Word Watch

Sandringham
A country house in Norfolk that is the Queen’s private residence.
Shore up
To support or help something.
Clive Lewis
Labour MP for Norwich South.
Republic
A state which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.
Subject
A member of a state, owing allegiance to a monarch or other supreme ruler.
Citizen
A legally recognised national of a state or commonwealth.

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