If Prince Charles becomes King Charles, will his kingdom leave him?

Thu Jun 19, 2014 1:00pm EDT
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By John Lloyd

(Reuters) - Could Prince Charles finally get his crown? And if he does, could it mean the end of the United Kingdom?

Abdication in favor of the younger generation seems to be something of a trend in Europe — if two cases can be considered a trend. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated last year so that her son, Willem-Alexander, could bring some youth and vitality to the largely ceremonial role.

More recently, King Juan Carlos, widely credited with having assisted the end of the Franco dictatorship in Spain in 1975 and with puncturing a rather feeble coup attempt in 1981, vacated the throne in favor of his son, Felipe. The announcement was followed by large demonstrations calling for an end to the monarchy entirely, with Cayo Lara, leader of the United Left Coalition, quoted as saying, “We are not subjects, we are citizens.”

And that’s the problem. While individual monarchs may be popular in Europe, monarchy is something else.

To be sure, Spain is its own case. There is 25 percent unemployment, with 50 percent of the young unemployed. Leftists did well there in the recent European Parliament elections.

Britain, on the other hand, has an economy that is growing quite strongly, and people who are doing well are less likely to look to upset a centuries-old apple cart.

But a transfer of power, now much forecast, could change that. Power transferred is power in peril.

Queen Elizabeth’s official birthday (her real one was in April) was celebrated this past weekend with the Trooping of the Color, a ceremony first invented in the 17th century.   Continued...

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall Camilla arrive for the second day of the Royal Ascot horse racing festival at Ascot, southern England June 18, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett