The Death of Queen Elizabeth: Can Charles Uphold Her Legacy?

The Death of Queen Elizabeth: Can Charles Uphold Her Legacy?

September 8, 2022 marked the death of Queen Elizabeth II, England’s former monarch, at 96 years of age. She died peacefully at her Scottish residence, at Balmoral Castle. Most people knew Queen Elizabeth II as a “cherished sovereign” and England’s longest reigning monarch, serving for seventy years. Queen Elizabeth II was well known for her tremendous social changes to the English government and continued service to the British people. The outpouring of love and respect shown by the British people at the time of her death demonstrates just how beloved the Queen was. Despite this sentiment, there are many other countries that believe the monarchy to be old-fashioned and even suffocating.


Many questions are arising about whether the 15 countries over which the Queen presided, will remain in the Commonwealth. Rutgers University historian Alastair Bellany told Rutgers Today, “There are already growing signs of discontent within the post-Imperial Commonwealth of nations. How many more of these nations, in the absence of the personal affection and admiration for Elizabeth II, will now choose to separate themselves from the crown and become republics?”


In addition, many scholars have recently written essays criticizing the monarchy as being racist and akin to promoting white supremacy. In an article titled “Mourn the Queen, Not Her Empire”, Harvard Professor Maya Jasanoff explores the idea that one should rightfully mourn the death of a beloved Queen, but that we should “not romanticize her era”. Elizabeth II grew up in a time when Britain had control of what seemed like a never-ending list of territories, including Hong Kong, India, and Jamaica, where they showed their power through enslaving native people and profiting from the natural resources of the lands. Many believe that the monarchy stands as a symbol of oppression, considering their past history with colonizing developing countries. My family comes from a small island off the coast of India called Sri Lanka, a country that was colonized by the British twice in its history. The British exploited the tea trade, spice trade, and the gems that were all native to Sri Lanka, profiting from a land that they had no right to. In fact, one of the larger gems on the Royal Jewels was said to come from Sri Lanka. The rest of the gems were all supposedly “gifts”, according to the British empire, from other developing countries, and many are calling for those precious jewels to be returned to those countries. There are also many people that still feel the effect of colonization to this day. People whose ancestors were enslaved by the British Navy and forced into hard labor in a country they thought was their home. Resources have been drained from these countries, making them poorer than they would’ve been had they not been colonized. 


However, looking forward, in the line of succession, the Queen’s eldest child inherits the throne. This leaves Charles, at the age of 73, as the new king. It is not wrong in saying that Charles III is rather unpopular with many of the British people, mainly following what happened to Charles’s wife, Diana, after her death and his quick marriage to Camilla (who is now the Queen-consort) just eight years after and the conspiracy that Charles was involved in Diana’s untimely death. It was rumored by many that Charles had been involved with Camilla even during his and Diana’s marriage. In a 2016 poll taken from the British people, only a quarter of the respondents said that they would like Charles to become the next monarch, whilst more than half responded that they would prefer if his eldest son, Prince William of Wales, were to take the throne instead. Charles is seen by many as a selfish ruler, and many claim that his jealousy towards his late wife Diana was one of the reasons that they divorced, in addition to his supposed infidelity throughout the marriage. 


It will be very interesting to see how receptive the Commonwealth, its residents and the rest of world will be to Charles, Camilla and the English monarchy.  The United States has long had a close relationship with the late Queen who had met fourteen of the past presidents. Will Charles III’s reign bring ripples of change?  Can he help make the monarchy relevant and address the injustices described above?  Whatever happens, it is clear that the path will be arduous, as the Queen left a powerful legacy in her wake.