The queen is dead. Is the monarchy next? – POLITICS

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OBAN, Scotland — In this corner of Scotland’s coastal region, not even the monarchists are loyal to the cause anymore.

“You called me a royalist,” scolded John, the proprietor of a local whiskey bar, pouring local single malt into a jigger. “It’s very emotional. People around here don’t joke about it.”

I had just arrived in this port town, the gateway to the Hebrides, to gauge what the locals were making of the change at the House of Windsor, and I was already offending the natives.

Rangers, a Glasgow football team famous for its allegiance to the crown, suffered a blow at home that night, despite a stirring rendition of “God save the Queen” by fans before the game.

My attempt to make light of the defeat, noting that the loss marked “another blow to the royalist cause” – fell flat. I begged a stupid American.

As he rinsed empty pint glasses, John muttered that not all Rangers were royalists, but declined to say where he really stood on the matter.

Like many foreigners who grew up with Narnia, The Lord of the Rings and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I’ve always had a soft spot for the British monarchy, especially intrigue, affairs and tawdry scandal.

To me, The Royals is the longest running reality show known to be tolerated by the public, both for entertainment value and to keep a steady stream of American and other yawning tourists flocking to the British Isles.

So I was puzzled to discover from some Brits’ reaction to the Queen’s death that the royal obsession isn’t always just voyeuristic pleasure – but can also be what some have described as a “mysterious” link between the British and the monarchy.

“There’s a strange power in this that short-circuits everything rational,” a BBC analyst told viewers as crowds of onlookers followed the Queen’s casket procession in Edinburgh.

Ben Judah, a British-French author, warned in a trigger alert on Twitter the day the Queen died that “Americans are welcome to post, but they should be warned of intense feelings here.” He described the late monarch as “a spiritual grandmother” and “the chief saint of a still-felt British religion.”

Deep things. But somehow I didn’t feel it.

Britain’s King Charles III attends a Vigil at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburghwearing the historic “Prince Charles Edward Stewart tartan | Pool photo by Jane Barlow/AFP via Getty Images

Whether it was Oprah’s interview last year with Meghan and Harry, or my 12th great great grandfather leaving Yorkshire in the 17th.th century for the New World, the royal hocus-pocus had worn me out.

But what about the Scots? Were they still under a spell after years of intense debates about independence? Or were they ready to place democracy above bloodlines?

The country had long been a favorite playground for the Windsors, especially the Queen (who seemed to emphasize this affection by dying at the Balmoral estate).

Scotland could retain the monarchy, even if it was to choose independence from Britain, but without it there wouldn’t be much of a kingdom left.

That reality—and the risk of it coming true—probably explains why King Charles III took pains to show his own devotion to Scotland in the wake of his mother’s death, attending a kilt-clad vigil with the historic ” Prince Charles Edward Stewart tartan”. “

Did the Scots buy it?

Most locals were reluctant to say.

“It’s a very controversial subject,” James, a local whiskey seller, told me, adding that the charged debate, which opens up Scotland’s sectarian divide, “leaves you shocked.”

I took that to be a bad thing.

“While the Queen has done her duty and all that, I don’t support the monarchy,” he said at last.

The Queen visited Oban twice during her reign. On her first trip, in 1956, she had to make a difficult exit, climbing over fish boxes with the help of the local newspaper editor onto a barge to reach the royal yacht Britannia during a raging storm.

The long history and tradition of the monarchy in these parts aside, it is an anachronism, he said. Like many here, James described himself as “pro-European”.

A flag flies at half mast over Balmoral Castle | Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images

Despite the deep respect many Scots profess for the Queen, her passing has brought to light the enormous privileges enjoyed by the British royals, particularly when it comes to taxation.

Down the road in the former royal stronghold of Inveraray at The George, a pub founded in 1776 (aptly named after King George III, who faced his own tax problems with Americans), I thought I had finally found Scotland’s true royalists.

I asked the bar staff if they were wearing black out of respect for the Queen. “No, it’s just our regular uniform,” a bartender replied. “You don’t notice the stains.”

One guest described the local attitude toward the royals as “indifferent indifference.”

“They don’t pay inheritance tax like the rest of us and then sweep it under the carpet,” interjected Dave Graham, who was visiting with his mother, after a game of darts. “We have to get rid of the monarchy.”

His mother objected, saying it should be “scaled down” and kept “for the tourists.”

If Scottish attitudes to the monarchy at home were cool, they were cold in Glasgow, the country’s largest city.

“It’s overkill,” Robin, a Glasgow barber, told me during a beard trim. We had discussed the celebrations surrounding the transfer of the Queen’s coffin from Scotland to Buckingham Palace, the 10-day mourning period and the planned public holiday on the day of her funeral.

“At the end of the day, someone else’s grandmother died,” he said in disbelief.

I asked if the monarchy would survive in Scotland.

“Well, Charles wanted the job, now he’s got it,” he replied with a laugh.

As I was on my way, his colleague leaned towards me, mid-snap, smiled and whispered, “I hate them all.”

Buchanan Street in Glasgow | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The Barbers were supporters of Celtic, the predominantly Catholic, republican football yin to Rangers’ Which one — in other words, not exactly natural-born supporters of the monarchy.

So I wandered into the center of Glasgow in search of balance. On Buchanan Street, a pedestrian shopping street, there were few signs of mourning, apart from the memorials for the Queen in shop windows.

A professional hurdler ran down the middle of the street blindfolded, jumping through rings of fire and spikes as the crowd cheered. He made several appeals for tips, but did not mention Her Majesty.

Most of the people I encountered said they respected the Queen but felt it was time to move beyond the monarchy.

“It’s the older generation that really still supports the royals,” explained Louis, a university student eating a pizza at Paesano, a popular downtown hangout.

He said he was in favor of independence and moving beyond the monarchy, not immediately but soon, because Scotland had not been treated fairly by central government. “Younger people don’t like the English, I mean the British government,” he said.

Although Charles is not very popular in Scotland, “he’s better than the guy who hung out on Epstein’s island,” Louis said, referring to Charles’ brother Prince Andrew and his friendship with late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

I headed for George Square (also named after King George III), the center of public life in Glasgow. On the second floor of the City Chambers, an opulent Beaux Arts building opened by Queen Victoria in 1888, city officials had posted several books of condolence.

A photograph of the Queen stood on an easel flanked by the Union Jack and Scottish Saltire in a room with carved satinwood paneling and a large alabaster fireplace. There was no line. Many of the signatories were foreign tourists. A French visitor, who signed himself “BB”, noted how popular the Queen had been, “even in France.”

Outside, mourners had left bouquets and notes of thanks on the pavement in front of the chamber gates, but nothing like the sea of ​​flowers at royal sites in London.

Sandra Moore, a retiree in her 60s who was visiting for the day from a nearby town, sifted through the notes and said she was encouraged by the outpouring for the Queen, although it was not as enthusiastic as it had been in other parts of England

“She wasn’t just loved in London,” she insisted. “We are a country that needs a monarchy, I am convinced of that.”

Queen Elizabeth II to visit Glasgow in 2021 | Pool photo by Andrew Milligan/AFP via Getty Images

She suggested the Queen’s passing at Balmoral had reminded Scotland of the royal connection to their country.

But will it survive here, I asked?

She paused and examined the collection of flowers.

“It is fortunate that the Queen died in Scotland,” she replied, then hurried across the square.

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