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The Royal Case

The King's medical situation has been prominently reported worldwide
04:20 AM Feb 10, 2024 IST | IANS
the royal case
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Buckingham Palace announced, a few days ago, that King Charles III is suffering from cancer. He was hospitalized for treatment of an enlarged prostrate when the cancer was discovered. The Palace has not indicated the nature of the cancer except to state that it is not that of the prostrate. Charles cancer treatment has begun. It has also been reported that Charles personally informed his estranged son Prince Harry and his own siblings of his condition. Harry, who lives in America flew from there to London to meet his father. They met only very briefly after which he returned to America. Meanwhile, Catherine, the Princess of Wales, has also undergone abdominal surgery. No reasons for the surgery have been revealed. It is noteworthy that Harry did not meet his brother William, the Prince of Wales, during this visit. It would have been only natural for the two brothers to meet in view of their father’s health situation and of Catherine undergoing surgery. The absence of a meeting shows that the estrangement between the two Princes is great and is continuing.

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King Charles medical situation has been prominently reported worldwide. The media coverage has been especially intense in the western world, including the United States. While a serious medical issue of any world leader, royal or otherwise, even if he holds a largely ceremonial position, makes the news Charles condition has attracted far wider attention. This is indicative of the world’s continuing interest and, in large sections of people the world over, even fascination for the British Royal family. It can be said without fear of contradiction that no royal family is in such constant focus as the House of Windsor is. Why is this so? Certainly, Britain may be a permanent member of the Security Council but it does not matter to the world as it did before the Second World War when it possessed an empire on which the ‘sun never set’. Why is it then that the British royals loom so large in the international public imagination?

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An important reason for continuing global, especially western interest, in the British royal family is that the goings-on within the family are no longer a secret. Indeed, members of the family with high royal status have themselves gone to the media to complain of how they have been treated. In the past they did not do so even when it was common knowledge that all was not well within the family. The abdication of King Edward VIII in December 1936 because he could not as King marry Wallis Simpson, an American lady, who had been divorced earlier is an illustrative case. The British monarch as Head of the Church of England was not allowed to marry divorcees. Edward VIII’s affair with Wallis Simpson created a great scandal at that time.

Edward VIII was succeeded by George VI who led a staid life. He was very different from his brother and imparted a solidity to the family. He died in 1953 and was succeeded by his elder daughter Elizabeth who reigned for over seventy years. She herself led a dignified life and not a whiff of scandal ever arose on account of her personal conduct. But she was seen as someone who was lacking in sympathy. This was perhaps because she never showed emotion in public. The problem arose with her sister Princess Margaret who led a rather colourful life and thereafter with her children.

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Indeed, over the past four decades the life of the British royal family has become like a television soap-opera. The married life of Charles when he was Prince of Wales and his wife Diana who exuded charm and grace and was immensely popular throughout the world was almost always in the gossip columns. The fact is that Charles had always wanted to marry the present Queen, Camilla, who was then married to someone else. Diana later publicly complained that there were always three people in her marriage with Charles. They got divorced in 1996. She was killed in a car crash along with the Egyptian businessman and millionaire Dodi Fayed. It was believed that they were involved in a romantic relationship. In 2005 Queen Elizabeth consented to Charles marrying Camilla who after Charles ascended to the throne in 2022 became Queen.

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Now, the dirty linen of the Windsors has been publicly washed by Prince Harry and his wife, the actor, Meghan Markel. They have complained that the royal family is racist and behaved badly with Meghan. Harry also complained of the way his brother William, the future King had treated him. The royal family maintained a discreet silence. This was wise for a response would have only added to the controversy.

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Apart from the soap-opera aspects there are other reasons for the British royal family to be in like no other royal family. The British monarch is head of the Commonwealth. Significantly, Queen Elizabeth lobbied for Charles to assume this mantle after her death. It was so agreed to by other members of the Commonwealth, including India, in 2018. This went against democratic principles and, in this age, the Commonwealth leaders, by agreeing to Charles succeeding Queen Elizabeth II as head of the Commonwealth showed a softness for the British. One reason could be that Britain continues to give aid to the smaller Commonwealth states and because of that they want to continue with their bond with Britain and the organization is one way of doing so.

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For quite some time to come the soap opera of the British royal family will continue to fascinate many people.

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