Elizabeth II: The message of the youngest Britons to Charles III: “There has to be a change” | International
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While Carlos III took a mass bath when he arrived at Buckingham Palace and the crowd shouted “God save the King”, about five kilometers away, in the streets of the Portobello market, tourists and young British people walked, pushed shopping carts children after school and had coffee with friends. Nothing allowed at first sight to guess that on the other side of Hyde Park was the epicenter of the earthquake that has shaken the foundations of the United Kingdom. That of the surroundings of the palace and that of those who do not come to leave flowers are two of the realities that coexist in a country that adored its Queen, but that after her death sees how the cracks around the succession begin to appear on all among the younger population.
It is foreseeable that the proclamation of Carlos III, who has already succeeded Isabel II, will arouse a wave of sympathy on the part of a population willing to give him a vote of confidence. But the testimonies of some of the young people who walk through Portobello at the same time give an idea of the magnitude of the challenge facing the new king. Carlos III, at 73 years old, does not enjoy much less the popularity of his mother. He gets 42% support versus 75% from the Queen or 66% from his son William, according to YouGov. But when only millennials are asked, Carlos III enjoys just 34% popularity, according to the same source. Many young and not so young think that King Carlos III will have to change if he wants to win over the population. They believe that the world has changed very quickly and that business as usual is not an option. The fear that the new king will not be able to unify the country as Elizabeth II did feeds the sadness that is palpable in the street and that at the same time has to do with that feeling of orphanhood that not a few British people harbor.
During the weekend, Portobello is filled with tourists, but during the week it is somewhat quieter and the life of the neighborhood coexists with those who come from outside. At the flea market they sell spiral potatoes and Indian dresses. There are also organic vegetables and all kinds of souvenirs with the Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom. There, some young people talk about leaving behind once and for all the colonial past in which Elizabeth II lived. Others, that Black Lives Matters, the movement that demands justice and equality for the black population, did not take off in the United Kingdom in vain. There are those who directly question the role of the Crown in society. It is as if after the death of Isabel II, Pandora’s box had been opened. Carlos III is for many a figure of the past. In addition, his relationship with Camila, the Queen consort, and the death of Ladi Di in tragic circumstances still weigh heavily on many Britons, including the youngest.
“If they still want to have a place in society they have to get more involved with people, they can’t continue to be so passive. This is the 21st century and people will only accept that they continue to cost so much money if they participate more”, thinks Cassie O’Reilly. The Queen never gave her opinion. She was a discreet monarch, who in reality very few knew. The world might have changed around her, but she was unchanging. That admired caution is insufficient for those who ask for a different presence. O’Reilly just got out of accounts and has a huge belly. She talks about the future she wants for her son, and this 30-something high school teacher argues that “there has to be a change.” Her partner, a chef who works in a luxury mansion in Chelsea as a private cook, is clear that her favorite option would have been Prince William. “It is our only hope of having a progressive monarchy. He is also the son of his mother. We are obsessed with Diana, ”she acknowledges.
The name of Henry of England also sounds a lot on the street, the wayward son who ceased to be an active member of British royalty last year after moving to the United States with his wife, Meghan Markle. “Carlos represents the old values, he has nothing to do with what we young people think. If the young could choose, I tell you that Henry would be the king without a doubt. For me, it is important that he is married to a half-black woman, ”says Joseph Kelly, a 20-year-old butcher who feels that the current monarchy does not represent him. “They do not represent black people, or youth, or the working class. They have to adapt. They cannot pretend to be a reference when they hide a member of the royal family accused of pedophilia [en alusión al príncipe Andrés, acusado de abuso sexual] or when the king had a affair with another”, he says referring to Camila, the queen consort. Next to her, her friend Kelly Said verbalizes the starry distance that separates her from many monarchists. For her and many of her friends, influencers of Youtube are a much bigger reference than any member of the British royal family. “They’re old-fashioned,” she thinks.
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Lousie, Sophie and Elisha are friends and 19-year-old students at university in London and they share an opinion: “No one I know is happy that Carlos is going to be king. We would like it to be someone else, not him. People think that he is not a good person because of what he went through with Diana, ”one thinks. Another relativizes the impact of succession. “In a week, when we start seeing his face on the bills, we’ll get used to it.”
Back in Buckingham, the streams of people and the bouquets continue to arrive. Among the crowd there are also many young people who have come to say goodbye to Elizabeth II. There are those who would also prefer Guillermo or even Enrique, because they believe that the king will find it difficult to connect with the youngest. But there are also many who believe that Carlos III has been preparing for this moment for decades and that this will allow him to carry out a good reign. “10 years ago, the rejection of Carlos III was much greater, but little by little he has been gaining the respect of the people who have ended up accepting him and Camila”, thinks Stephanie Smith, a 28-year-old health worker who has come to leave a bouquet of yellow roses to the Palace. There are others, such as a group of young financiers who work in the City, who highlight Carlos III’s concern for the environment as a symptom of his ability to connect with the new generations. Opinions and their nuances tend to infinity, but what seems clear is that the population was handed over to her queen and that her successor will have to earn the favor of the British from now on.
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