Royal Family

How the monarchy could have ‘disappeared’: 12 things we learned from royal experts ahead of the platinum jubilee

Had Prince Charles become King in the Eighties, when his popularity was at an all-time high, the monarchy may no longer be active in Britain, royal expert Sean O’Grady has said.

O’Grady was joined by former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond during an event for The Independent last week, where the pair spoke about the highs and lows of the royal family.

With the Queen’s platinum jubilee on the horizon, Bond revealed the events to look for, and also described why the week Princess Diana died was of the “most difficult of her life”.

Read on for all the things we learnt from our panellists.

You can watch the full video of the panel event, The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: A look back at 70 incredible years here

O’Grady explained how, in the Eighties, there was “Charles and Di mania”, and that there was an idea “put around for a while” that the Queen should retire.

“I think the reason why she didn’t do it was two-fold,” O’Grady said. “There was an abdication in 1936, which had a very bad hangover effect on the monarchy and on the institution, and secondly, I don’t think there’s much doubt that [the Queen] is a religious person, and she takes her beliefs very seriously.”

“I think she also realised better than most that the Charles and Diana show wasn’t what it seemed,” he continued.

“If [the Queen had retired] it would have been a disaster, because what would have been King and Queen consort would have been rowing and divorcing, and by the Nineties, I think the monarchy would have disappeared.”

Following several controversial visits to the Caribbean and Canada by senior members of the royal family this year, O’Grady said Commonwealth countries are “waiting for the change” after which they will “reassess matters”.

“When Charles takes over it is going to be very, very difficult for [the royal family] indeed. I think a lot of Commonwealth countries are waiting for the change and then they will reassess matters. I think he will always be in her shadow. He may be better than people think,” O’Grady said.

“He’d be well advised to not be so political,” O’Grady said. “Princes of Wales’ are allowed to speak out in certain areas and he has done so, and I think he’ll just have to stop doing that when he is King. And I think he does understand that.”

However, Bond said she would “welcome” a more political King. “I would welcome the King to put forward his views on matters that are not party political, that has to be the distinction,” she said. “But matters that are sensitive, that are global, good for the environment et cetera, I see no reason why he can’t continue to talk out on that.”

“Knowing Charles a little bit as I have over the years, I’ve always maintained actually, that I think he has the makings of being a very fine King,” Bond said during the panel.

“He’s a decent person you know, he made an absolute mess of his first marriage and his private life, of which a lot of us have done that. It took a long, long time for the public to forgive him.”

The Queen and Prince Andrew arrive at Prince Philip’s memorial in March

After receiving the Queen’s blessing earlier this year, when the time comes for Charles to be King, Camilla will be known as Queen consort.

“If your name is King, then your wife’s name should be Queen. I’ve argued long and publicly that Camilla should be accorded that respect,” Bond said.

O’Grady added that this change in attitude has come from a “more mellowed” public.

“I remember in 1997, what a dangerous moment it was for the monarchy,” he said. “If the public didn’t want her to be Queen consort and there was some sort of backlash, then she couldn’t do it. Because everything that they do, all of the privileges that they have and the roles that they have does come from the consent of the people.

Camilla and Charles are coming to the end of a three-day tour of Canada

The Trooping balcony appearance in 2018

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