The Queen’s soft power unites the UK

When the Scots voted on separation from the UK in September 2014, Queen Elizabeth II’s role was severely challenged.

At the time, Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond pledged that if voters supported leaving the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II would remain “Queen of Scotland”. .

Opinion polls at the time showed that Salmond correctly assessed the Queen’s importance, as 52% of people still wanted her to be their ruler. However, he misjudged the Scottish people’s view of separation from the UK, with only 45% of people in favor of the vote.

Queen Elizabeth II prepares to speak during the opening ceremony of a session of parliament in London, England, last May.  Photo: Reuters

Queen Elizabeth II prepares to speak during the opening ceremony of a session of parliament in London, England, last May. Image: Reuters

Among the many lessons of the Scottish movement to leave the UK, the one drawn by Scottish politicians is that Queen Elizabeth II is not part of the problem.

But for Northern Ireland, the opposite was true for most of her reign. Thirty years of bloody violence in the country between unionists and nationalists have left Ireland divided.

Unionists are loyal to the monarch and traditional British values. Meanwhile, for Irish nationalists, the royal family is a representation of the past in which the British conquered their ancestors and annexed their lands.

Earl Louis Mountbatten, uncle of Prince Philip, the last viceroy of India, along with several descendants were killed in a boat bomb assassination attempt by members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). present in 1979. The message that the IRA sent to the British royal family was clear: Royal blood was the target.

The Queen’s first public response to that message came only years later. During her visit to Northern Ireland in 2012, after the Good Friday Treaty was signed between the government of the Republic of Ireland, the British government and the parties in Northern Ireland in April 1998, Queen Elizabeth II shook hands with one of those most directly involved in previous bloody violence, Ireland’s Deputy Premier Martin McGuinness.

McGuinness was a member of the Sinn Féin party and was closely linked to the IRA’s violent campaign to sever ties with Britain in favor of the reunification of all of Ireland.

Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with Ireland's Deputy Premier Martin McGuinness in June 2012.  Photo: Reuters.

Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with Ireland’s Deputy Premier Martin McGuinness in June 2012. Image: Reuters.

The fact that government officials asked the Queen to shake Mr McGuinness’s hand speaks to her strength over the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. She is not the Union, but its symbol.

McGuinness’s Irish nationalist Republicans had reluctantly ended their “armed struggle” and remained part of the Union today.

Nic Robertso, veteran commentator of CNN, believes that Queen Elizabeth II is the source of strength to help unite the country. She used her soft power subtly and discreetly, with the sole aim of preserving the unity of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as the royal and Commonwealth seal. .

The Queen has understood and orchestrated the complex aspects of Edinburgh’s relationship with London in a way that is difficult for British politicians, especially Conservatives, to do, according to Robertso.

This ability, coupled with the Queen’s constant setting aside of personal issues with Irish nationalists, says a lot about how the Queen contributes to the cohesion of the UK, the world and the world. close assessment.

It is no coincidence that the Queen’s late husband, Prince Philip, has been named Duke of Edinburgh, or that her son, King Charles III, has the title Prince of Wales or her grandson, Prince William , Duke of Cambridge, was also named Earl of Strathearn of Scotland. As heir to the throne, William currently inherits the title of Duke of Rothesay of Scotland previously held by his father.

It is also no coincidence that the Queen will spend many months of the next year at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. In Balmoral, the Queen performed one of her final duties, appointing Liz Truss as British Prime Minister on September 6. Just two days after this event, the Queen passed away.

During the years of her reign, Queen Elizabeth II built sympathy with all the people of Great Britain. Her unifying power is soft but substantive, Robertso observes.

The Queen has never stated that she feels more English than Scots or less fond of Northern Irish than Welsh. For many people in all parts of the UK, the Queen embodies consistency, custom and continuity. The Queen’s son, King Charles III, may now also inherit her efforts.

King Charles III during his enthronement ceremony held on September 10.  Photo: Reuters.

King Charles III during his enthronement ceremony held on September 10. Image: Reuters.

Although there have been controversies over his marriage to the late Princess of Wales Diana, as well as his marriage to Queen Camilla, his current wife, King Charles III has never shown he is inclined towards one region. one area of ​​the Union than the rest.

According to Professor Thom Brooks, the chancellor of Durham University, the moment of the transition from the Queen to her son, King Charles III, was “a huge historic moment”. However, Britain’s new king may also face a complex challenge in his quest to bring the country together.

King Charles III inherited the throne at a time when the monarchy was still well-received in Britain, with support as high as 62%, according to a June poll.

But public affection and admiration for the Queen is not tied to support for the royal family in general, especially after the recent controversy involving Harry and Meghan, as well as accusations of assault sex work that Prince Andrew has ever faced.

The biggest test that awaits King Charles III is whether he can build a calm but steady “aura” like Queen Elizabeth II to maintain the country’s unity, commentator Yasmeen Serhan from Time evaluate.

The Queen, who ascended the throne at the age of 25, has a lifetime to prove herself. King Charles III, who at 73 years old is the oldest monarch to ascend the throne in British history, will not have the same advantage.

“King Charles III has a propensity for social activism,” perhaps because his main occupation was pursuing personal interests through foundations and charities, commented Richard Fitzwilliams, an expert on the British royal family. .

“The king does not yet have the great influence and soft power that Queen Elizabeth II has so successfully cultivated throughout her life,” said Brooke Newman, historian of modern England from Virginia Commonwealth University. , comment.

Vu Hoang (Theo CNN, Time)

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