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World UK royal crisis: 'Firm' safe for now but clouds loom

03:42  11 march  2021
03:42  11 march  2021 Source:   afp.com

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Queen Elizabeth II has never apologized for the monarchy's connection to the British slave trade, or other instances of racism by the royal family. Yes, but: Hamas has not followed with a clear statement of its own.What's next: State Department officials stressed that the exercise of democratic elections is a matter for the Palestinian people to determine.But for now , it seems the Biden administration is sticking to the general policy of all U.S. administrations since 2006.“We note that the U.S. and.

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The British monarchy's immediate survival is assured, despite Prince Harry and his wife Meghan's claims of racism, experts say, but cultural rifts exposed by the row could signal trouble ahead.

Elizabeth II wearing a pink hat: Queen Elizabeth II, who has been on the throne since 1952 and is now 94, remains hugely popular © Ben STANSALL Queen Elizabeth II, who has been on the throne since 1952 and is now 94, remains hugely popular

The revelations are a "soft-power disaster for Britain" that raise questions over whether the monarchy "can, or should, survive at all without the Queen at its head," according to The Times' diplomatic correspondent, Catherine Philp.

But polling at home suggests the couple's explosive interview with US chat show host Oprah Winfrey has so far had little impact on the popularity of the 1,000-year-old institution.

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The Royal Mews and the Queen's Gallery at her London home of Buckingham Palace will reopen the same day, as will the Palace of Holyroodhouse, her official residence in Edinburgh. However, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, Frogmore House and Clarence House will stay shut over the summer months "owing to the operational challenges of social distancing". And the Royal Collection Trust, which looks after the Royal Collection of art and manages public access to the official residences, warned it would be seeking voluntary redundancies.

But Andrew’s private secretary, Amanda Thirsk, who has now been moved from her post, disagreed with Stein, seeing the interview as a chance for the duke to put some distance between him and his late friend, the disgraced sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Ultimately, the decision came down to the duke and, confident in his abilities to swing public opinion, he agreed to be interviewed. It was to prove a catastrophic example of hubris.

Around a third of people told YouGov that their sympathies lie mostly with the royal family, while only 22 percent said they had more sympathy for Harry and Meghan -- a four point rise since the interview was aired in Britain on Monday.

"This is certainly a crisis for the family, but that's the royal family as a soap opera. It's not a crisis for the institution of the monarchy," said Robert Hazell, professor of government and the constitution at University College London.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Polling also reveals a much less favourable opinion of the queen's oldest son and heir Prince Charles, 72 © Aaron Chown Polling also reveals a much less favourable opinion of the queen's oldest son and heir Prince Charles, 72

"It would only become a crisis for the institution if opinion polls began to show that it had significantly reduced support for the monarchy," he told AFP.

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Dark clouds loom over the pine forest surrounding Hummelsta, a town of 1,000 people that hasn't had any local shops for a decade. Since December, a red wooden container, about the size of a mobile home, has offered a lifeline. It's a mini supermarket that locals can access round-the-clock. In Asia several companies including Alibaba are testing unstaffed stores in more urban locations. Amazon has also opened supermarkets in US cities and this month in the UK , which use sensors and cameras to work out what you've bought, so there's not even the need for self-scanning.

- Unpopular Charles -

Queen Elizabeth II, who has been on the throne since 1952 and is now 94, remains hugely popular, with a 79-percent approval rating that politicians can only dream of.

An Ipsos Mori poll this week also indicated that only 17 percent of people believed the country would be better off without a monarchy.

But the family is reeling after a year in which Harry and Meghan quit and questions swirled about Prince Andrew, the queen's second oldest son.

text: The monarchy has weathered centuries of scandal, intrigue and plots, and is an integral part of British cultural life © Ben STANSALL The monarchy has weathered centuries of scandal, intrigue and plots, and is an integral part of British cultural life

He caused anger by giving a disastrous television interview defending his relationship with the convicted US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, and denying claims that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl trafficked by the disgraced financier.

Prince Charles et al. posing for a photo: Graphic detailing the background to the split between Britain's royals and Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle © Jonathan WALTER Graphic detailing the background to the split between Britain's royals and Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle

A closer look at the polling also reveals a much less favourable opinion of the queen's oldest son and heir Prince Charles, 72, and a sharp contrast in the attitudes between younger and older generations.

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"The Queen still draws multigenerational, global admiration. Prince Charles, however, very much less so," wrote Philp.

"Charles is the named member of the royal family who perhaps emerges worst from the (Harry and Meghan) interview, potentially a far greater problem for the monarchy than the characterisation of an anonymised, uncaring 'Firm' that Harry suggested even the Queen was at the mercy of.

"The generational divisions also bode ill for Britain's image overseas, with the under-40s far more supportive of Harry and Meghan's version of events than their elders."

The charges of racism against an unnamed senior royal particularly resonate with Britain's younger generation, which has grown up in an increasingly diverse country.

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Only 29 percent of the 18-34-year-olds polled by Ipsos Mori said Britain would be worse off if the monarchy was abolished.

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A total of 45 percent said it would make no difference, and 19 percent said it would make the country better.

- Scandal and plots -

"When the Queen dies, the difference that Prince Charles faces is that he will be a very elderly monarch. He will be nothing like the young Queen Elizabeth in 1952," said Hazell.

"It is quite likely the tabloid press will run opinion polls saying, do you want Prince Charles as king or do you want that young and attractive Prince William?

"I think that will be difficult for the monarchy."

But he added that younger people had historically tended towards republicanism, before becoming more sympathetic as they grew older.

While republicans sense an opportunity as the queen's long reign draws to a close, they still face daunting obstacles in bringing down an institution that has weathered centuries of scandal, intrigue and plots, and is an integral part of British cultural life.

"They would have to change the constitution," said Hazell.

"Although this isn't written... all commentators have accepted that such a significant change would require a referendum."

Britain has endured five torrid years of division and constitutional wrangling since deciding to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum.

Neither of the main political parties has shown any enthusiasm for another seismic vote.

And even if Charles proves unpopular, "that's not a threat to the monarchy as an institution, it's a threat to Charles as king," added Hazell, with the more popular Prince William, his eldest son, 39, waiting in the wings.

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