The state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II can ‘energise’ the monarchy but will not solve its problems overnight, a royal historian has said.
Dr Ed Owens believes that King Charles III faces ‘bumps in the road’ after the biggest-ever televised funeral for a head of state.
The historian and author said the Royal Family’s ‘dysfunction’ will remain as the sovereign tries to steer the monarchy in a new direction.
The final farewell for Her Majesty, which took place at Westminster Abbey yesterday, was attended by around 2,000 guests, including a global roll-call of heads of state, dignitaries and royal families.
Dr Owens told Metro.co.uk that despite the united show by the British royals at the service, the King still faces underlying issues including further revelations from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and repeated calls for independence from Commonwealth nations.
Dr Owens said: ‘For the Royal Family, this is a challenging moment for a family that is experiencing a period of dysfunction currently.
‘There’s a challenge there in regards to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, which we didn’t see yesterday, we’ve seen a family rallying round the focal point of a Queen who was the longest-reigning monarch in British history.
‘But there are problems waiting in the wings beyond yesterday, which have been alluded to without taking centre stage.
‘We are moving to a period of transition, which stretches from the moment the Queen died to when our new King is crowned, probably early next summer, which will in part aim to deal with some of the lingering wounds within the Royal Family.
‘These have not been dealt with by the funeral but to a certain extent it can energise the monarchy in terms of helping it find its feet with a new monarch who essentially seeks to send the institution in a new direction.
‘Any suggestion that there is a process of healing going on is to ignore the underlying problems in the family and its relationship to the nation and the Commonwealth realms.
‘There are lots of bumps in the road awaiting King Charles and over the next nine months we are going to watch him navigate some of those challenges.’
Dr Owens described the UK’s biggest-ever broadcast as fitting for a monarch whose appearances spanned the black and white and digital eras.
Worldwide, an estimated 4.1billion people were due to tune in to the service, according to WatchTVAbroad.com.
In the UK, where official viewing figures are due to be released today, the coverage aired across BBC platforms.
‘Westminster Abbey is the notional stage on which these royal actors perform,’ Dr Owens said.
‘The funeral is the nation’s biggest televised event from the 20th Century up to now, and has generated huge interest overseas.
‘It’s the first time we have had a full televised funeral for a head of state, which wasn’t the case in 1952 when George VI died.
‘The BBC had a role to play but it was small in comparison and radio was the dominant broadcasting medium.
‘Television has been part of Elizabeth II’s reign over the past 70 years and it’s very fitting that she has been given a send-off in Westminster Abbey which was televised to a global audience.
‘It doesn’t just tell us about Elizabeth II and her legacy but about how the British monarchy is transitioning to new leadership.
‘Clearly there’s a purely personal element to this in the Queen being a beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and aunt.
‘At the same time, she is also a surrogate mother figure to the wider nation as a whole, in the way the British royalty since the early 20th Century has sought to cast itself as a surrogate mother to the nation and to the Empire when it existed.’
The unprecedented scale of the funeral reflects the legacy of a monarch who exercised great tact and charm during her 70 years on the throne.
The assembly of world leaders is in one respect testimony to her ability to keep her counsel on politics and steer the royal family away from controversial matters.
Heads of state including US President Joe Biden were among those who paid their respects to Her Majesty, who died peacefully at Balmoral on September 8, aged 96.
One of the questions about King Charles’ reign is if he can devote the same time and energy to the Commonwealth that his mother is credited with.
Paying tribute at the service, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: ‘Her late Majesty famously declared on her 21st birthday broadcast that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the nation and Commonwealth. Rarely has such a promise been so well kept.’
Dr Owens said: ‘Queen Elizabeth II is certainly the greatest constitutional monarch the country’s ever had and the best example yet of a monarch who is politically voiceless, who keeps her views to herself.
‘She tried to turn the monarchy into a non-partisan symbol around which people of all political persuasions can gather.
‘She is the purest form of that constitutional monarch we have to date and that is one of her greatest successes.
‘With some exceptions, people can identify with her no matter where they are on the political spectrum.’
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