A poll has shown that over half of Brits think that Prince William, Duke of Cambridge should be the next King, but this is simply not an option for the British Monarchy. Here’s why.
The questionnaire earlier this month by Opinium Research asked 2,000 people: “Who would you prefer to see as the next Monarch after Elizabeth II?”. 54% of those surveyed want William to take over from The Queen after her death.
Just 25% of people asked in this poll think it should follow the natural line of succession, and for there to be a King Charles III. Meanwhile 21% of voters said they did not know or were not sure.
Interestingly, a poll back in 2014 showed people were more supportive than ever of Charles: 42% of people said they wanted Her Majesty to let Charles take the throne and for her to retire in 2014. The same poll also reveals that 53% want The Prince of Wales to take the throne next, compared to the 38% who were on his side in 2011.
A 2015 poll by Sky, said that 70% of people want Britain to remain a monarchy forever.
So how likely is it that Charles will be our next King? Well, 100% – that is, unless he predeceases his mother.
1. It is the law
The law in the United Kingdom – which operates a system of Constitutional Monarchy – states that the next heir to the throne is ALWAYS the eldest child of the reigning Sovereign. Until 2013, this meant the eldest son under primogeniture, putting all females after any male children, but now it is absolute primogeniture – the oldest child, be it a son or daughter, will be the next to reign.
A Monarchy always has been and always will be a hereditary office: when this job starts to be handed out to other people, it becomes a thinly veiled republic.
What better reason to stick to the line of succession that to not break the law?
2. Instability within the Monarchy is bad for the UK
In 1936, Edward VIII decided he wished to give up the British throne and his role of King in favour of love, since the British government could not accept a marriage between him and Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American.
Perhaps more to do with his personality, disregard for the rules, and favour of a luxurious lifestyle, the people were not happy. Their King was passing them, and his birth duty, over for his personal desires. Queen Mary, his mother, was appalled: “It seemed inconceivable to those who had made such sacrifices during the war that you, as their King, refused lesser sacrifice”.
Politician Sir Henry Channon said in his diary, “The whole world recoils from the shock.”
“Everyone is in a turmoil because the King wants to marry Mrs Simpson,” reported Madge Martin, the wife of the vicar of St Michael’s, Oxford; while Harold Nicholson, a politician, commented that the people’s “deep and enraged fury was against the King himself,” when just 10 of 400 people sang the National Anthem at a royal engagement with Edward VIII.
While we do live in different times, where divorce is commonplace and more liberal ideas rule, it does not disregard the fact that alterations to the line of succession is destabilising for Britain. 61% of people in a 2015 poll think that the Monarchy still plays an important role in the functioning of the state, and it does: the Monarch can still veto laws, choose a Prime Minister, and declare both war and peace. All of this can be done without governmental guidance or permission if necessary.
Edward’s younger brother, Albert, was thrust on to the throne, without proper Kingship training, just military experience. He reigned as George VI – despite his first name being Albert, and George his third middle name – in order to give some stability and familiarity to his people, following the tumultuous time David (Edward) brought. Even George’s newly minted coins faced the same way as his father’s: they should have been the opposite way, as is tradition, but he wanted to give a feeling of security to the people.
His eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was then heir presumptive at the tender age of 10, when she was born to be nothing more than a working member of the Royal Family.
3. William isn’t ready – he doesn’t want the job yet
Seen in the fact that William still has another job alongside his royal duties, The Duke of Cambridge is not yet ready for Kingship.
Even though he left the RAF in 2014, and it was expected that William would have a 12-month ‘transition period’ into full-time royal duties, this didn’t happen. Instead, the Prince undertook an agricultural course at Cambridge University (to prepare him to run the Duchy of Cornwall in future), and then became a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance, which he balances alongside royal engagements. UPDATE: The Duke of Cambridge left this role in September 2017.
While Kensington Palace is now the permanent base for the Cambridge family, Anmer Hall in Norfolk is the family’s preferred home, as it is out of the spotlight and away from the media. They still seem to escape to the countryside when they can.
Prince Charles has been groomed for the job of Monarch since he was born. As he has said: “I learned the way a monkey learns – by watching its parents”. This is a job he has shadowed for 64 years, picking up the details of how his mother reigns, receiving cabinet documents too. Prince William is also allowed access to some of these, but not to the same extent as his father, who is next in line and more experienced and skilled at such state matters.
4. The Queen (and her heirs) know the value of duty
Elizabeth II knows just what duty means. Seeing her father handle the stresses of Kingship, in which he turned to increasing number of cigarettes, George VI had numerous lung problems, eventually dying of cancer in 1952.
Even before she ascended the throne, she made a promise to her people, the ones she would one day rule, at the tender age of 21: “I declare before you all, that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great Imperial family, to which we all belong.”
This promise, made in Cape Town during a tour with her parents, was heartfelt and she has taken it seriously since then.
As mentioned, Charles has seen the requirements of the job, and knows what is needed of him. He is the longest-serving heir to the throne in history, and has seen almost as much as The Queen herself. Meanwhile, William is just 35, and would benefit greatly from more time to observe and learn, than be thrown in at the deep end in the next decade or so.
5. When you start passing the job around, the Monarchy becomes a puppet for a republic
The point of a Constitutional Monarchy is to have an apolitical Head of State, who remains outside of the political arena.
Stats show that the Royal Family are more trusted than politicians: in a Sky poll, 58% of people said they trusted The Queen more than politicians. As the apolitical Head of State, the British Sovereign can intervene in times of political uncertainty and emergency to keep the country afloat – this is the only time they ever involve themselves in government, despite the fact they have veto powers.
When the job of King or Queen is passed around to the person the people would prefer, it becomes a republic, but not in the sense that we are used to. It would be a president masquerading with a crown – like Oliver Cromwell did for a number of years during the Commonwealth of the mid-17th century.
Sources: 2015 Sky poll,