A historic jubilee of the Queen… and a succession of scandals

Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 70 years on the throne today, the longest British and Canadian reign. But this historic anniversary comes at a time when the monarchy is constantly plagued by scandals, which call into question its relevance.

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A son accused of sexually assaulting a minor, a grandson who slams the door of Buckingham Palace and a rekindled interest in the torments inflicted by his family on the adored Princess Diana in popular culture: the image of the queen has been badly tarnished for two years.

Last year, the 95-year-old sovereign also mourned her husband of the past 70 years, Prince Philip.

“These were rocky years for the Queen,” notes the editor of the Majesty Magazine in London, Joe Little. Turbulence reminiscent of the 1990s.

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953.

Photo archives, AFP

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953.

Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952 and will celebrate a platinum jubilee this spring to mark this anniversary, which no other British sovereign has reached.

British historian James Jackson still remembers the celebrations surrounding the Queen’s coronation in June 1953, even though he was just five years old.

He expects the same splendor 70 years later, because “the English love it, these festivities, it’s what royalty brings”, he underlines.

Nevertheless, he believes that the civil lawsuit against Prince Andrew for sexual assault on a minor, which recently received the approval of an American judge, will “blacken all the celebrations”.

In the hot seat for years for his friendship with billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, the prince was stripped of all his military titles. Withdrawn from public life, the Duke of York no longer uses the appellation “Royal Highness”.

He will be invisible at the Jubilee celebration.

“We cut the branches that threaten the throne”, decides the author and constitutional lawyer André Binette. But for the Quebec spokesperson for the Monarchist League of Canada, Karim Al-Dahdah, a bad apple “does not mean that the whole system is bad”.

It’s the same thing in Canada, where the escapades of the former Governor General of Canada, Julie Payette, have also tainted the function of the Queen’s representative in the country.

“One person does not make the institution,” continues Mr. Al-Dahdah, who would also like more visibility and brilliance around the function.

For Joe Little, the departure of Prince Harry and his wife Meghan is also a “missed opportunity” for the monarchy. Probably suffocated by the protocols to be respected and attacked by the tabloids, the couple preferred to devote themselves to philanthropy in the United States.

The breath of fresh air that they breathed into the monarchy fell with their departure.

“I have the impression that for the next few years, the queen will still experience extremely difficult times,” said Estelle Bouthillier, analyst of the British monarchy.

In Canada, the Crown cost just over $58 million in 2019-20, or $1.55 per Canadian, according to calculations by the Monarchist League of Canada.

Visits to the country by members of the Royal Family are also made entirely at the expense of Canadian taxpayers. Last year, the Bureau of Inquiry calculated that, in the past four years, it has cost $4.4 million to host British crowned heads.

Queen Elizabeth II has set foot in Canada 22 times since the beginning of her long reign, but she has not set foot in Quebec since 1987.

The abolition of the monarchy is not considered at all in the United Kingdom, but in Canada, the idea is gaining more and more support.

According to a Leger poll conducted for The newspaper last year, three quarters of Quebecers wanted the outright abolition of the presence of the monarchy. In English Canada, traditionally more attached to the queen, it is now more than half of the people who are ready to turn their backs on her, according to another poll.

“It used to be a taboo subject, but it is no longer so,” notes André Binette, who notably wrote a book in favor of a republic in Quebec.

” [Abolir la monarchie] is never a priority for a federal government, because it’s putting your hands in a crab’s nest,” says Estelle Bouthillier.

André Binette adds that “paradoxically, it is easier to abolish the monarchy in England than in Canada”, where Parliament would have to reopen the Constitution and obtain the unanimous agreement of the 10 provinces to go ahead.

This would then also be an opportunity for the provinces to make all sorts of demands to Ottawa, in particular for more autonomy, in exchange for a vote for abolition, for example.

– A platinum jubilee is celebrated to mark 70 years of reign. The celebrations will take place from June 2 to 5.

– It is the very first to be celebrated in the United Kingdom, since Queen Elizabeth II is already the sovereign to have worn the crown the longest.

– She dethroned Queen Victoria in 2015.

– She acceded to the throne on February 6, 1952 at the age of 25, after the death of her father, King George VI. His official coronation, however, took place in June 1953.

– It was then the first event of international scope to be tele-broadcast. In particular, planes made the round trip between London and Montreal so that the video tapes could appear on the Canadian small screen.

– Due to her 95 years, the Queen could be less visible than in previous jubilees, leaving more room for her heirs, believes Joe Little, of the Majesty Magazine. The pandemic could also curb crowds, but no special measures have been announced.

– If she remains queen for another three years, Elizabeth II will overtake King Louis XIV of France as the longest-reigning monarch.

– As Queen, she has seen 15 British prime ministers, from Winston Churchill to Boris Johnson. In Canada, his reign witnessed 13 prime ministers, from Louis St-Laurent to Justin Trudeau.

– In a speech for her Ruby Jubilee in 1992, the Queen called the last year an annus horribilis (horrible year). Several of his children had then divorced and the infidelities of Prince Charles towards Princess Diana made the headlines.

– When Princess Diana died in 1997, she was also strongly criticized for her silence. Estelle Bouthillier points out that the queen then respected monarchical protocols, but the British people demanded that she mourn more publicly.

The tiny island of Barbados in the West Indies became the Commonwealth’s newest republic last year. A break with the monarchy that could make small, believe experts.

“It seems inevitable that Prince Charles will be king of fewer countries than his mother,” argues British publisher Joe Little.

The artist Rihanna is now designated as a

Photo archives, AFP

The artist Rihanna is now designated as a “national hero” of her native country of Barbados, which has become a republic.

On the occasion of the 55and anniversary of its independence, Barbados has chosen to break with its colonial past. Rather than admiring a queen, the country even elevated singer and businesswoman Rihanna as a “national hero.”

Independence was achieved by passing a bill to amend the country’s constitution, creating the role of the country’s president to replace the queen.


Photo archives, AFP

It is the former Governor General, Sandra Mason, who was elected to the presidency by the members of Parliament of Barbados. Prince Charles attended his swearing-in.

Of the 54 member countries of the Commonwealth, only 15 still have the British Crown as head of state.

According to author and constitutional lawyer André Binette, other Caribbean islands, such as Jamaica, are likely to follow Barbados’ lead.

For these countries, the British conquest is also synonymous with a bloody past of the slave trade.

If this happens, Canada would then become the only monarchy in all of America.

“It will be embarrassing at some point,” believes Mr. Binette.

Not to mention that Australia has been talking about becoming a republic for many years. Some, like Joe Little, believe the death of 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth II could be the trigger for a break with the monarchy.

The latter has always been the most popular member of the royal family, he recalls.


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