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In the same week, new premier and new king: how is the British government

Elizabeth’s death on Thursday (8), despite generating commotion, increases tensions over the United Kingdom and the preservation of the monarchy, especially in the intergovernmental organization called the Commonwealth, which brings together 56 countries of British influence, almost half of them in Africa.

Elizabeth II died two days after officially accepting the resignation of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and approving the election of the new British prime minister, Liz Truss. Johnson and Truss went to Balmoral Castle, in Scotland, where the queen was, on Tuesday (6), marking a new moment for the British government, which is going through economic and social crises.

Some former colonies, such as Australia, were already intensifying the debate about leaving the monarchy. According to a poll taken by ABC’s Vote Compass in May, 53% of Australians did not approve of the then Prince Charles (now King Charles III) as the nation’s head of state. Anthony Albanese, the country’s prime minister, invested in a portfolio in the government responsible for the Republic, preparing to leave the monarchy.

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, historian Virginie Roiron, a specialist in society from the Strasbourg Institute for Political Studies, points out that the “maintenance of the Commonwealth will be the great work of the reign” of Elizabeth II.

When she became monarch, the British Empire was in decline. Under Elizabeth, the former colonies became independent and the model we know today was created. “The Queen followed the development of the Commonwealth into the current global organization. The preservation of this ‘family’, as Elizabeth II called it, will be the great work of her reign”, reinforced Roiron.

Robert Lacey, historian and adviser to the authors of the royal-inspired series, “The Crown”, agrees on Elizabeth’s important role in uniting the former colonies. “India, Pakistan, all these countries feel that they belong to this group of nations thanks to the Queen”, highlights Lacey in another interview with the French newspaper.

Becoming popular, Elizabeth II kept the tradition of the reign to the modernization of communication between royalty and the population. At 86 years old, in 2012, she served as the inspiration for the creation of a simulated video in which the sovereign parachuted, landing on the London Olympic Stadium. A charismatic queen manages to maintain the monarchy with less questioning and criticism.

Faced with the rise of her successor, Charles III, British international influence may be weakened, as well as the permanence of the government model. “With the death of the queen, we will no doubt see more countries follow the path of Barbados, which became a Republic in 2021. The queen will have been the last planetary monarch. She was already an anomaly. I think that Canada will maintain the British monarchy until the end, because that is what distinguishes it from the United States. But what about other countries?”, ponders the historian Lacey.

This instability is especially reflected in the crisis facing the UK. Having to make small (but important) changes to the State, such as reprinting notes with the figure of the new king, modifying the royal anthem – which is also the official anthem of other Commonwealth countries -, a gap is opened for questions: How long does the UK want to prolong the monarchy? Is this really a priority in the face of the crisis? What will be the king’s influence on government decisions?

Influence of the reign on the head of government

The newly appointed head of government of the United Kingdom , Liz Truss, opened the tributes to the sovereign in a special session of the House of Commons this Friday. In a speech, the new premier stressed that Elizabeth II “was one of the great leaders the world has known” and “reinvented the monarchy” to adapt it to modernity.

She highlighted that the monarch demonstrated her devotion to the “union” between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The conservative leader also recalled that Elizabeth II, who lived with 15 British prime ministers, held weekly meetings with them until the end of her life, being closely linked to the decisions of the Parliament.

The economic crisis generated by the exit from Brexit, reinforced by the war in Ukraine with rising prices and energy crisis, result in an inflation that exceeds 10% in the United Kingdom. Therefore, in Truss’ inaugural speech, the economy was one of the central issues of the new government, with a recovery program expected to be presented in less than a week.

Even if Parliament has political freedom, and the king has symbolic and ceremonial power, the impact of succession on the monarchy can be reflected in the economy. Priscila Caneparo, professor of International Relations at Unicuritiba, highlights that public coffers feed the monarchy and this can generate greater demand for the end of this model.

“Much of English tourism comes from the context of structure monarchy, which can also affect the British economy”, emphasizes the professor.

In an interview with Gazeta do Povo, economist Igor Macedo de Lucena, a doctoral candidate in international relations at the University of Lisbon and a member of the Chatham House – The Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Portuguese Political Science Association, recalls that Elizabeth knew how to work with the prime minister at the beginning of her reign, Winston Churchill, to unite the British people and overcome post-war adversities.

“The United Kingdom is going through a time of strikes, of rising inflation, suffering the consequences of a war, which will require decisions to be taken by the new prime minister (Liz Truss) and with King Charles III at the one The challenges that are posed today are as great as those that Elizabeth II faced”, highlights Lucena.

In addition, there is a risk of a breakdown in national unity. Scotland wants to hold another independence referendum in 2023. In an interview with Gazeta do Povo, Wilson Maske, a professor of history at the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUCPR), says that Charles III would remain English and Scottish monarch at the same time, even if the separation is approved. He is also optimistic about the way the government will handle the crises.

“The British have a lot of ability to resolve these issues on acceptable terms, because due to the very solid parliamentary system, since the establishment of the limited monarchy with Parliament, in 1688, England did not have more revolutions, and not because there were no situations of social crisis that could lead to this, but because the parliamentary regime created situations that made reforms possible. The current problems do not threaten the United Kingdom and the monarchy, which have already faced more difficult moments, such as the Second World War”, he argues.

The new premier, Liz Truss, would have to keep this strength of Parliament to tame the economic and social crisis, especially next winter, when the energy crisis is expected to reach its peak in Europe. The new king, Charles III, is challenged to maintain the influence of royalty as his mother taught, with the evolution (of the monarchy) to avoid the revolution.

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