Analysis: How the Queen’s Soft Power Has Contributed to United Kingdom’s Unity

At the time, Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond promised that Elizabeth II would remain “Queen of Scotland” if voters supported leaving the coalition after more than 300 years.

Polls at the time suggested Salmond had an accurate picture of the popular mood for the Queen, with 52% wanting to keep her. The issue was controversial as it was famously miscalculated and voted 55% to 45% against.

One of the many lessons of IndyRef 2014 in Scotland was that the Queen was not directly part of the problem.

In Northern Ireland, however, the opposite was true for much of her reign.

Known as ‘The Troubles’, 30 years of bloody violence pitted British unionists against Irish nationalists. The British crown has been a symbol of many that divide the states.

Unionists are loyal to the Crown and the traditional British values ​​they believe it protects. For Irish nationalists, it is a symbol of the British forces that conquered their ancestors and annexed their lands.

charlesA favorite great-uncle, Sir Louis Mountbatten, the last British governor-general to India, along with several grandchildren, was murdered by Irish Republicans. His message to the monarch was unmistakable. Her lineage was a legitimate target.
Her official reply came many years later on a visit to Northern Ireland in 2012 following the relative peace brought about by the Good Friday Agreement. shook hands with one of the Republicans Most associated with Martin McGuinness, the group behind Violence of the Past.

That government officials encouraged her to take McGuinness’s hand speaks to her power over all things Union. She is not the Commonwealth, but its symbol. McGuinness’ Irish nationalist republicans reluctantly ended the “armed struggle” and have remained within the Commonwealth for now.

It would therefore be a misunderstanding of her reign to think that Queen Elizabeth had little relevance to the Union today.

She wielded her soft power delicately and discreetly, with the sole purpose of uniting the Federation, the vestiges of the Union and the Empire.

Soft but true unity

The Queen’s ability to understand and navigate the complexities of Edinburgh-London relations in a way that British politicians, especially the Conservatives, rarely comprehend, and her own personal suffering at the hands of Irish nationalists. Her ability to overcome said much of her dedication to unity.

Her late husband Prince Philip was given the title Duke of Edinburgh, her son Charles was invested as Prince of Wales within the walls of Caernarfon Castle in Wales, or her grandson Prince William The Duke of Cambridge also holds the title Earl of Strathairn of Scotland. As heir to the throne, William now inherits the title of Duke of Rothesay of Scotland, previously held by his father.

Queen Elizabeth II received a bouquet of flowers from Charlotte Murphy during her visit to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force's 603rd Squadron Headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, July 4, 2015.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth II attend the Braemar Gathering featuring the Highland Games on September 5, 2015 in Braemar, Scotland.

It’s also no coincidence that the Queen spent many months of the year at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Not only was it one of her favorite residences, it was also a place and culture where she felt at home. British politicians have ever sampled. In fact, it was at Balmoral that she performed her last official duties. She accepted the resignation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and called on her successor, Liz Truss, to form a new government. Two days later, as the news of her death broke to the British people and the world, the Queen’s close family gathered there.

Queen Elizabeth II (left) welcomed Liz Truss during an audience in Balmoral, Scotland, and invited the newly elected leader of the Conservative Party to form her government on 6 September.

Elizabeth styled herself as a person sympathetic to all of England. Her unity in this regard was soft but genuine.

The Queen has never claimed to be more British than Scots, or more Northern Irish than Welsh.

Age-old animosity towards the royal family, whether Irish, Scots or Welsh, predated her reign by more than a generation. To many people across Britain, the Queen embodied her consistency, habits and continuity. She is likely to do the same with her son.

Charles, who has sparked some controversy over the years, has been indoctrinated with a pan-union résumé, like his mother. While he was in Scotland, he spent time in Wales before his ordination and spoke Welsh in ceremonies at Caernarfon Castle.Although there have been moments of general controversy over his marriage to the late Princess Diana, Princess of Wales, and his relationship with his current wife. Camillanow Queen Consort, and he has never made one part of the Confederacy more consistently hostile than others.
Charles and Camilla are seen during a visit to officially open the redeveloped Aberdeen Art Gallery on September 21, 2021 in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Charles, however, is perceived as being too outspoken about issues that deviate from traditional orthodoxy. In terms, his general views on the dangers of climate change were expressed long before the issue touched mainstream discourse, leaving him with a reputation for being anomalous. .

According to Professor Tom Brooks, Dean of England’s prestigious Durham University and Chair of Law and Government, Charles as a King would have been a member of the Union of Northern Ireland because he automatically became King after the Queen’s death. “Their view of what it means to be British will weaken,” he said.

Given the quality and length of Elizabeth II’s reign, Brooks describes the transition from queen to son as a “huge historic moment.”

Queen Elizabeth II attends the opening of the Sened (Welsh Parliament) 6th Parliament in Cardiff, Wales on 14 October 2021.

political influence

Taken in isolation, the transition may appear to be constitutionally immediate and not particularly important.

But a majority of Northern Ireland voted to stay in the European Union, and the union members’ traditional allies, the Conservatives, let them down with a Brexit deal that would create new tariff barriers between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain. The two countries’ ties across the Irish Sea, coupled with a less attractive monarchy, could speed the pace of the transition to a unified Ireland.

What can the world expect from Charles III?

In fact, shortly after Prince Philip’s death in 2021, a poll of Protestants in Northern Ireland, who were traditionally strong unionists, said the majority considered themselves Northern Irish, not British. was shown for the first time. It represents a subtle psychological change, softening your emotional connection to mainland Britain.

According to Brooks, the relationship is eroding from the perspective of union members looking at mainland Britain. “If it’s on your side and it’s as good as it gets,” he said.

In this regard, King Charles III may have a slight mitigating effect on the Commonwealth. But Brooks warned that the Queen’s passing would heighten calls for the monarchy to end. Impact on Union.

In Scotland, despite a long-running quest for independence, a change of monarchy is unlikely to affect Scots’ political appetites in a measurable way, according to an Edinburgh-based poll, adviser to the SNP. company Mark Diffley said.

He said it would be “politically unwise” to radically change 2014. [independence referendum] Prospectus. ”

Diffley concedes that “the royal family is not as popular in Scotland as it is in the UK”, but says that’s not the problem SNP is exploiting. “SNP and he says YES the type of voter his campaign is calling for independence is the middle class who voted to remain in the EU, not the republican, but the monarchy-changing type,” Diffley added. increase.

Following the SNP’s success in the 2021 Scottish parliamentary elections, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said he hopes to hold another independence referendum next October. Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed against such a vote, but the UK-wide results of same-day local elections in 2021 cemented the image of a politically divided country. In England, the right-wing Conservatives beat the left-wing Labor Party, but in Wales the Labor Party won, and the SNP polled better in Scotland than both combined.

The sturgeon Now asked the UK Supreme Court to rule Whether or not a second referendum can be held without Westminster’s remarks could become a major headache for Downing Street in the coming months.

In short, Johnson’s newly anointed successor, Truss, is likely to have a greater impact on Britain’s collapse than anyone to wear the crown of head of state.


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