At 95 years old, since becoming queen on February 6, 1952, Queen Elizabeth has rarely faced such difficult times for her family. Prince Andrew, often described as Her Majesty’s favourite son, is facing a civil sexual assault case in the US – and was stripped of his royal patronages and military titles this month.
Stories persisted on the subject throughout 2021 – a year in which the monarchy also faced criticism following accusations made in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
While the high level of respect the Queen has maintained throughout her reign is keeping the monarchy afloat through these controversies, those who wish to see the monarchy brought down believe its future hangs in the balance.
Graham Smith, chief executive of anti-monarchy group Republic, told Reuters: “The monarchy and the queen are synonymous for most people.
“Once we’re past the end of the Queen’s reign, all bets are off as to where public opinion is going to go.
Republic have stepped up their campaigning, with Prince Charles set to succeed the Queen.
Mr Smith said that all it would take is an act of parliament to end the monarchy.
He added, however, that in all likelihood there would need to be a referendum first.
Of the impact Prince Andrew’s civil sexual assault case could have on the monarchy’s reputation, Sunday Times columnist Camilla Long wrote: “For the monarchy it is an extinction-level event.
“You can’t spend a thousand years telling everyone you’re special and then everyone discovers, in real time, in a court case, that you are really not.”
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Buckingham Palace said the four days of celebrations in June to mark Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee will allow “national moments of reflection on the queen’s 70 years of service”.
The Queen has led the country and her family through the failings of three of her children’s marriages, and notably through Princess Diana’s death in 1997.
Supporters of the Queen often cite the economic benefits the monarchy brings to Britain through tourism, as well as the stabilising factor of a Royal figurehead.
However, critics argue this special quality is overvalued, and instead the monarchy represents undeserved privilege.
Harry and Meghan’s decision to give up their royal duties to move to Los Angeles, from where they have made several barbed attacks on the royal family, has also shaken public perception of the monarchy.
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In an explosive interview with Oprah, Meghan claimed that an unnamed family member asked “how dark” the Sussexes’ son Archie’s skin might be.
In a statement, Buckingham Palace said in response to allegations made in the interview that “recollections may vary” but the issues will be addressed privately
In a testament to the respect she has garnered over her reign, faith in the Queen has been largely unshaken, with 83 percent of respondents in a recent Yougov poll saying they held a positive view of her in a December poll.
A spokesman declined to comment about the monarchy’s long-term future.