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Is the Royal Family Still Relevant?

Harry and Meghan are saying “adios” to the Royal family and taking a step back to live a more private life. A lot of people have their opinions about why- but what does this mean for the future of the royal family? 

We’ve asked a few young people their opinions about their views on the monarchy, whether it’s important for their sense of “British-ness” and if we’ll still have monarchy in a few decades time. 

Name: Ameena

Age: 24 

“I don’t think we really need a Royal family anymore. It’s a pretty outdated institution. We should be aiming to create an equal society which the royal family does not represent. I do think they do a lot of good- they have a public purpose doing some good community work, but in general we should be working towards getting rid of it and replacing it with an elected head of state. Voting as a system is not perfect but does a better job. 

In terms of whether they are integral to being British, I feel like they represent 1950s English nostalgia, with and the queen waving from a carriage, waving flags and bunting- not the UK today. A lot of people like the royal family because they seem so much more competent than our politicians. It’s a failure of our democratic institutions that we look to the monarchy as a source of good. 

I do care about Harry and Meghan’s decision to take a step back from the Royal family- it reveals a lot about our media. I think Harry and Megan trying to remove themselves is a good thing, especially not wanting to use taxpayers’ money to do their roles. There is also a wider agenda in the media; Meghan has suffered from sensationalist vilification and demonisation because I think as a couple they represent modern principles of working towards equality and not entirely elite interests.  

Meghan Markle has faced severe media scrutiny for the same things Kate Middleton has been praised for.

Will the royals still be around in thirty years time? It will depend on how the next 12 months go- we’re heading towards quite a populist/nationalist route. Given the climate crisis, the way we currently live isn’t holding together so there could be a push for a more progressive change. However, if racism and misogyny continue to rise I find it hard to believe that the monarchy will be scaled back. But I think Megxit will set a precedent that royal members can have more of a private life and not be as dependent on public money.

Sophie, aged 21 

I think the monarchy’s really out of date and out of touch with the real world to be honest. It’s quite a nice tradition but I do just think the whole system is based on ceremony not substance. It’s a bit strange that the Queen has to read a speech laying out the government’s plans in Parliament, when she might not even believe in them. 

I also don’t like that we pay for their upkeep and don’t really reap any benefits- sure they bring in some tourism but France doesn’t have a royal family and Paris is [one of]* the most visited city in the world. I think we should have a scandavian monarchy where they are financially independent and their houses be made into museums where we all have access to it. 

Meghan and Harry lived in Kensington Palace before moving to the more humble Frogmore Cottage on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

I think it’s useful to have a neutral head of state, but is a 91-year old woman who’s always lived in a royal bubble really qualified to be making decisions about 6[7]* million people? It’s not particularly democratic. 

They are very much a part of our culture and they are the most famous royal family in the world, so I think taking the royal family away completely would be a mistake, but I think the system we have is a bit much and should be scaled down. 

I don’t care that much about Harry and Megan mostly as it’s none of my business. He’s pretty far down the line for the throne so I do see his point; he might as well take a step back. The press effectively killed his mother and I think Meghan has had a lot of bad press since she married him- though she probably knew that it would happen. I think them choosing a different path is a good step forward and could change the monarchy a lot by becoming financially independent and have more of a private life. They don’t need to be in the public eye. 

It’s difficult to say what the future of the monarchy is. The way things are going with climate change and the potential for civil unrest, I see politics changing a lot in the next thirty years. Climate change will encourage mass migration so socially things will change too, which could have an impact on the monarchy. 

Name: Christan

Age: 18

I think the monarchy is a little bit out of step with the real world, but maybe that’s also the great thing about it? It’s a way for the nation to escape the sometimes grim realities of life and have a different sort of life to look up to? I know some people don’t like the royal family as it seems quite unequal, but let’s be honest, if we got rid of the monarchy tomorrow it wouldn’t magically make this country a more equal place. 

I think as British people, we just don’t have much that makes us feel British and the Royal family is one of the few things that gives us a national identity. I wonder what we’d replace it with if we didn’t have them any more? 

I think Harry and Meghan choosing to leave is fine- the Royal family shouldn’t be a prison where there’s no way out and I understand why given what happened with him mum [Princess Diana] he’d be cautious. But they definitely shouldn’t be getting any more public money and I’m pleased they said they’d give back all the public money that went into their house which they’ll continue to live in. It’s not fair for people’s taxes to pay for them when they’re not working for us anymore. 

Much of the treatment Meghan has faced is similar to what Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, faced in the media prior to her death in 1997.

It’s hard to know if the monarchy will still be around for the long run. Maybe as other things in the world become less certain, people will become more focused on their own countries and cultures and cling onto tradition. But equally things could become so mad and unstable that traditions like the royal family become irrelevant and people care about them less. 

*Edited for accuracy.

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