The unimaginable yet all too expected death of Queen Elizabeth II occurred on September 8th. Crowds flocked to all the stopping points to catch a glimpse of her coffin touring throughout the UK. The two-week period was filled with processions, memorials, cancelled events, blacked-out shop windows… the mourning period is a standard protocol for a reigning monarch’s death out of respect. With Queen Elizabeth being the longest reigning monarch and generally beloved figure amongst UK citizens, the ceremonies were exceptionally grand and crowd reactions were noticeably distraught.
However, with her death taking place in the Balmoral estate, the plans were slightly changed. From an extensive Scottish tour and procession in Edinburgh to being celebrated as “Elizabeth, Queen of Scots”, the somber ceremonies and passionate celebrations had a clear Scottish influence. Many news outlets speculated that this was exactly her plan to pass peacefully in Aberdeenshire, her childhood highland home.
Queen Elizabeth had deeply rooted ties to Scotland which were so apparent where she notes that the Scots have her “deep and abiding affection.” In 2014 when Scottish Independence was up in the air, her typical political neutrality faltered as she spoke to her people stating that she was a Queen of four nations, not just England.
She spoke with warmth and candour when asked about Scotland and it was clear that she wasn’t acting for appearances— that the highlands really were her home. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon states that Scotland “loved, respected and admired” the queen.
For the majority, she was adored by the Scots with her death exposing a grief-stricken population. Queen Elizabeth represented stability and unity for the nations during her 70 years of rule over the United Kingdom. However, the days of Queen Elizabeth are now over, and immediately in came her son King Charles III, the not-so widely beloved figure… to put it lightly.
Not to mention, the controversies surrounding the Royal Family are making the entire situation just that much tenser. With the infamous incidents of Meghan and Harry leaving and Prince Andrew’s sexual assault allegations, to say King Charles has an unstable climate to work with would be an understatement. King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla represent part of the monarchy’s unforgettable past and the great loss of the “people’s princess” Diana. The general dislike and distrust of the current royal members isn’t a recipe for a strong union and monarchy.
That is ultimately what’s leading the growing whispers of abolishing the monarchy. Queen Elizabeth was the last unifying factor of the entirety of the United Kingdom. Although the Crown represents the monstrosities of colonization and slavery within the history of the UK, the support of Queen Elizabeth was unwavering and lessened the tensions.
With the accession of King Charles, the support will drastically dip with a recent poll stating that only 45% of Scotland are in favour of the monarchy continuing. Those who feared Scottish independence are beginning to worry whereas those waiting for a return of a free and independent Scotland are realizing this is the ideal time to strike. With such an unpopular monarch coming into power, there is no longer a sense of disrespect of bashing the royal family. It’s only expected now that Scotland will push further for independence or separation from the monarchy.
The relationship between Scotland and the union has historically been a complex one. The opinions of each side have been passively negative through perpetuating stereotypes and religious disagreements— nor have cultural divides been bridged. One can easily detect the differing lifestyles and philosophies of Scotland and England. No one notices it better than the individual people in the sovereign state. While there are those staunchly pro-independence and pro-union, there is also a whole lot of middle ground. Those who are unsure of either side and walking an uneasy blurry line.
Queen Elizabeth’s death could very well be the tipping point for these sides. Whether it’s through political action or just popular belief and sentiments ringing in the kingdom, there is bound to be a tremendous change coming this way.
This leads one to wonder… was the passing of Queen Elizabeth II purely marking the death of a beloved monarch or could this be the historic end to the monarchy itself and the United Kingdom as we know it?