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Spotlight on the monarchy

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

As King Charles III takes over as the new monarch and Head of the Commonwealth, the 73-year-old will be under pressure to make sweeping changes to the powers of the royal family, even though they may be largely ceremonial. The Royal Family is under extreme scrutiny currently, and as the period of mourning comes to an end, many will question the ongoing position of the monarchy outside England.

In India, the reaction to the death of Queen Elizabeth has been largely muted – lots of discussion but no real concern. The discussion has mostly been centred on the return of the treasures which the British stole from India during their 200 years of colonial rule, and on the atrocities committed, especially the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919 where unarmed Indian men, women, and children were gunned down in an enclosed park. Reports of the number of people killed vary between 379 and 1,200, but the slaughter of unarmed protestors has rankled deeply in the minds of Indians.

For years, there have been calls for the British monarchy to apologise for the incident that fateful afternoon in April 1919. What also rankles is the sight of the Kohinoor diamond, one of the largest cut diamonds in the world which was taken from India in 1849. Though it is said to be ‘gifted’ by 10-year-old Prince Duleep Singh, the capacity of a child to take this decision beggars belief. Perhaps the new King will reflect that the Indian prince was not very much older at the time than his grandson Prince George is now. Indians may have settled with the status quo with Queen Elizabeth, but with her passing, the youth of India are keen to redress the dispossession which the country has suffered.

READ MORE: Why Australia must become a republic

The Kohinoor diamond, seen in the funeral procession of Queen Elizabeth II. Source: IANS

It is also important for King Charles III to keep the Commonwealth as a viable group. Established in 1931, its intent was to keep connected a bunch of Asian and African countries that were slowly slipping away from British colonial rule. In its initial days, the Commonwealth did have a network of diplomatic and cultural influence globally, but over time this has reduced as new geopolitical relationships have emerged. In fact, the Commonwealth is known more for the Commonwealth Games than anything else.

But it continued to be a great source of power to the Queen, and she invested much time and energy to keep the institution alive with frequent travels and interaction with Commonwealth leaders. It seemed at times that the Queen needed the Commonwealth more than the Commonwealth needed her. But she was well-liked as head of the Commonwealth, and it was she who held this group of nations together. Upon her death, questions will be asked of the new monarch.

After an appropriate mourning period, Australia will also come to discuss and vote on the issue of becoming a republic. Indian migrants could form an important voting bloc, noticing their sharply increasing numbers in Australia. It might well be they who need to be convinced to have the British monarch as Australia’s head of state.

READ MORE: Melb gymnast Ashari Gill on her 2022 Commonwealth Games win

Pawan Luthra
Pawan Luthra
Pawan is the publisher of Indian Link and is one of Indian Link's founders. He writes the Editorial section.

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