By Simon Green
Prince Harry is not usually the voice of authority from the Royals, between his exploits at fancy-dress parties in his youth, to his revealing photos published while on holiday a few years ago, most of us don’t tend to take the fifth-in-line to the throne that seriously.
However, in an interview with Newsweek magazine he, for some controversially, said “Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.” Was it Harry’s place to say that? And if the new generation of the Royal Family think this, how can people really support monarchs who don’t want to be there?
Well, let’s first say that the vast majority of the British public are in favour of a monarchy, with 68% of those asked in a 2015 poll thinking it was a good thing for the country. That would, therefore, indicate that there is absolutely no appetite for the inception of a British republic. The royal family are benign politically and have been for centuries, so many feel they cause no harm in a political context and should be left to the business of opening leisure centres etc.
Having an apolitical head of state has always seemed to make sense, as even if the nation is bitterly divided politically as we are currently, everyone can get behind a leader regardless of political persuasion. The ‘Not my President’ placards in the US which are seen so often are the embodiment of the dangers of a Republican state, in which many feel the leaders in the country either won’t listen or are purposely contemptuous towards them.
And on Harry’s point that no one wants to be a monarch, is it really possible that this is the first generation of royals who do not to want the pressure of sitting on the throne? In the age of social media and ‘access all areas’ to the rich and famous’s lives that we have come to expect, he is just the first to actually say it, casting aside the ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude adopted by royals throughout history in keeping personal opinions strictly private.
The important story here is not to do with his belief on the throne being an unattractive prospect, but rather that the family are still accepting the burden for “for the greater good of the people” as he went on to say. It says a lot about the incredible duty to serve that the Windsors feel, following the example set over the last 64 years by the Queen. Even if they would rather not step up to the intense spotlight that is being King or Queen, they realise it is an institution much bigger than them and so has to be done.
So even if you think the Royal family are too posh, too out of touch and too traditional, everyone can admire the political value of the institution, as well as the service they have given, and continue to give, to the country and its citizens.
Photograph: Glwyn Lowe via flickr.