This fine statement from our Prime Minister following Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that there was room for “improvement” with the British Monarchy represents the deepening divide in public opinion on our fantastic monarchy. Here at St Andrews we enjoy a far more intimate relationship with the monarchy than most, with Wills and Kate being alumni, and many of our students being attracted here by that fact. However, although there are undoubtedly hampers full of love for our Monarchy here in St Andrews, this love is not wholly replicated across the land.
The Epstein scandal has, incredibly, become a scandal about Prince Andrew in the UK, as opposed to focussing on the actions of financier and his victims. On account of a disastrous interview from the Duke of York, we are now lambasting the entire Monarchy, and this puts our country in a very perilous position. In turbulent times such as these, our Monarchy provides security and stability and an alternative image of leadership. While Jeremy Corbyn makes up false allegations against our Prime Minister about trade deals with the USA, and the Conservative Party HQ adopts a Janus-esque role as both party mouthpiece and neutral fact-checker, the Queen, and indeed the entire Royal Family, remain elevated above the petty squabbles of everyday politics. However, Prince Andrew’s calamitous interview with the BBC threatens to topple the ivory pedestal, and lower the Monarchy to the same level as our disappointing politicians. Rather than focus on the specific case of Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre, it might be a good idea to evaluate the importance of the Monarchy itself and recognise that we should not condemn the entire institution on account of the alleged wrongdoings of a single member.
The United Kingdom losing Scotland pales in comparison to the effect losing its Monarchy would have. As mentioned before, we rely on our Monarchy for stable leadership, but we also rely on them for their various ceremonial and political functions. After all, even the Prime Minister must officially be appointed by the monarch. However, more than any of these ‘official’ reasons, we must treasure our Monarchy because of what it represents. Our Monarchy has its roots even before 1066 and, through the person of the Monarch themselves, we can feel connected to all those who lived on this island before us. Britain had a Monarch when we won at Agincourt, we had a Monarch at Trafalgar, at Waterloo, during both World Wars and, thus, the constant presence of our Monarchy is a reminder of our greatest victories and allows us to all draw pride in our country. Surely the actions of one member of the Royal Family, admittedly close in blood, but distant in succession, from the throne cannot topple this eternal bulwark of our island’s history.
Nonetheless, Jeremy Corbyn’s snide remarks were still greeted with cheers and applause, suggesting that, in the country itself, there are indeed growing murmurs of discontent about our Monarchy. Thus, we return to why the Epstein-Giuffre-Andrew scandal is so potentially damaging for the continued existence of our Monarchy, as, although it is far from a hand grenade lobbed into the heart of Buckingham Palace, it certainly represents further weakening of the supports which hold our Monarchy aloft. In a time where our country is divided politically, socially, and financially, we could certainly all appreciate the guiding force of our Monarch, and thus we must hope that the Royal Family can overcome this current storm – and once again be able to reassure their subjects at this time of political instability.