King Charles should be a thoughtful monarch - Brian Wilson

One of Queen Elizabeth’s achievements was to take the debate about monarchy out of politics. The permanence of her presence and the dignity with which she conducted herself largely led to suspension of debate about the institution itself.

King Charles is a man of strong convictions but these have generally been on the right side of history
King Charles is a man of strong convictions but these have generally been on the right side of history

While hardly anyone bothered to be an active republican, many subscribed to the formulation: “I like the Queen but I’m not a monarchist”. Her success was in making that distinction seem entirely non-contradictory. Whether it can be smoothly handed down to her heirs remains to be seen.

For the immediate future, I’m sure it will be. The new King Charles has been around for a long time too and familiarity plays a big part in acceptance. He has been a man of strong convictions but these have generally been on the right side of history. The public, in Scotland as elsewhere, will embrace the continuity he offers.

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But 20 or 40 years from now… The problem with a system based on heredity does not lie in individuals at the top, who are well-trained for the job, but with the structure of society that cascades down from them. Monarchy has its roots in absolute powers which embraced patronage, privilege, titles and land.

Democracy has encroached in most respects but hardly at all in others. A thoughtful monarch might conclude that the institution’s own long-term interests lie in reform of its more contradictory symbols in a modern democracy. And I do expect King Charles to be a thoughtful monarch.

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