With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, announcing they’re jetting off to Canada, stepping down as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and carving out a ‘progressive new role’ within the institution, a new discussion has arisen as to what role the Royal Family should play in modern society.
The Royal Family is a prestigious institution in the UK that for many emboldens a sense of patriotism and a culture that is distinguishable from most other nations across the world, politically or otherwise. This article isn’t intended to be a testimonial to the Royals but instead an endorsement of the good that the Royals do as proof that the Queen and her family still have a place and purpose in British society, if only they could escape the hindrance of the, albeit justified, sliding reputation they currently have.
A recent Guardian article proclaimed that Harry and Meghan are finding out that the Royals ‘can’t do progressive’. Conflictions arise at this because do we really want the royals to be progressive? Sure, we want them as an institution to modernise with the rest of Britain, and mirror the values of a modern multicultural society that has been established. If Harry and Meghan want to live abroad they should be allowed to - especially if they really will be financially independent. However, the House of Windsor has ruled over Britain since 1837, through the Industrial Revolution, two World Wars, The Cold War, the 7/7 bombings, countless elections, World Cups and an Olympic Games, it represents consistency, and more importantly, stability.
In many ways monarchy can be something different for each individual. Some may not care at all, some may be obsessed, some may aspire to be as rich as a Queen or as well-dressed as a Prince, others may put their lives on the line ‘for Queen and Country’ or maybe marry their university sweetheart, who might happen to be King someday. The Royals have the unique ability to be so distant and different, but also be fantastical and familiar, inspiring thousands of people to line the streets of London and Windsor to witness historical moments like weddings and Jubilees.
The Royal Family, however, do more than represent a royal status, win Olympic medals and serve in the armed services, they perform their ‘Royal duties’. The monarchy supports hundreds of charities alongside military, professional and public service organisations. These can be large scale charities but are also small, local and specific associations that benefit hugely from the endorsement of the royals. This helps with publicity and generating consistent support for such groups which would struggle to get the traction to make the real difference they do. From the famous Duke of Edinburgh Award, offering personal development to young people, to the Llandovery Rugby Football Club, a small rugby club in the Carmarthenshire, a royal patronage highlights the best this country can offer and supports organisations innumerably. But, if a royal stamp doesn’t do it for you, Prince Harry has gone above and beyond to use their position for good with the highly regarded Invictus Games providing a renewed purpose for the men and women that risk their lives to protect their respective countries. Indeed, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have inspired a massive increase in the level of support for mental issues across the UK with their ‘Heads Together’ campaign. Undoubtedly, ‘the Royal touch’ can do enormous amounts of good and this should not be understated.
Image: Flickr/Chris Betts Photography