The main challenge to the monarchy lies in the threat to the union, says Prof Robert Hazell in his guest paper for the Bennett Institute and Institute for Government's joint review of the UK’s constitution.
The main challenge to the monarchy lies in the threat to the British union. The Queen’s death was a turning point which has naturally prompted reflection on the role of the monarchy in our political system. King Charles III has a number of challenges to face:
- Should the monarchy remain neutral if the Scottish government succeeds in a future attempt to hold a second independence referendum?
- What it will mean for the monarchy’s standing if Scotland votes to become independent?
- What does the future hold for the 14 countries around the world where Charles is now head of state – though the monarchy may be relieved at the shedding of both workload and reputational risk if any realms become republics?
- Will fresh legislation be required to determine who can become a counsellor of state or, if there are not enough working royals to fill the roles, will it become necessary to appoint non-royals?
- Will the monarch’s religious oaths need to be revised and updated, or dropped altogether, to suit a more secular and pluralist society?
- Is it possible to remove the risk of the monarch being drawn into political controversy, as in 2019, perhaps by giving parliament control over prorogation?
This short paper explores these future challenges for the monarchy and is based on two recent books by the author.1
1Hazell R and Morris R eds, The Role of Monarchy in Modern Democracy: European Monarchies Compared, Hart Publishing, 2020; Hazell R and Foot T, Executive Power: The Prerogative, Past, Present and Future, Hart Publishing, 2022.