The 21st century has brought numerous challenges for the royal family to not only keep themselves relevant, but to keep themselves in the public favour. Recent attention surrounding Prince Andrew and the media-dubbed ‘Megxit,’ can be considered to have seriously damaged the royal family’s image. With ever-mounting disagreement over the necessity of the royal family, is this a concern for future monarchs?
Over ten years ago, Prince Andrew stepped down from his position as UK trade envoy after criticism mounting over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein began to impact the royal family’s reputation. Fast-forward ten years, many sexual assault allegations, removal from public duties, a baffling Newsnight interview and a reputation tarnished beyond repair are all that remains of the Prince. The scandal has been one that has made headlines across the world and has irreparably changed the way we see and respect the royals.
Other media attention surrounding Meghan and Harry’s departure from the royal family has become a continuing spectacle that has incited a whole new perspective over whether the royals can maintain their popularity. The two former royals announced their intention to step back from royal duties in early 2020, with alleged racist comments over their (then unborn) son’s skin colour, ignorance over their mental health struggles and conflicting accounts over their financial funding from the royal family.
Despite this, the monarchy has remained strong, with some accusing the couple of hypocrisy against their values. Since stepping back from the royal family to gain more privacy, the two have authorised a Spotify podcast, a deal with Disney and an interview with Oprah that received over fifty million viewers.
Perhaps the reason Meghan and Harry’s popularity has soared is due to the parallels with the latter’s late mother, Diana Princess of Wales. Whichever stance you take on ‘Megxit,’ you cannot disagree that the late princess’s enduring popularity has forever changed the way we see the modern monarchy.
With increasing interest in the royal family’s life behind closed doors, more films, documentaries, books and television shows are being produced than ever before to satisfy the public’s desire to see their first family. Most notably The Crown, which has achieved almost seventy Primetime Emmy Award nominations, and is one of the most expensive television series ever made.
What do the next few years hold for the royal family? Prince Charles’ succession to King and a new era for the family— for better or for worse. Many can agree that the Prince does not hold the same popularity as his mother or his son, perhaps due to the heir appearing out of touch with the public. After all, the man boasts a car that runs on wine and cheese products.
The monarchy’s future is as it always has been: uncertain. This was true during the War of the Roses, during the English Civil war, during Edward VIII’s abdication crisis— I could go on. In this writer’s opinion, future monarchs have little to worry about. The royal family have survived thousands of years of wars, pandemics and even Diana: The Musical— they can surely survive this.