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The ups and downs of British monarchy

The British people have had a monarchy for over a thousand years. The relationship
between the monarch and the people has suffered some serious crises in the country's history, but
the monarchy always seems to recover.
Revolution: Charles I
The biggest crisis in the monarchy's history came
in 1649 when the king was actually condemned
to death by parliament. Charles I wanted the
monarchy to have more power, and in 1629 he
dismissed the parliament and ruled for 11 years
without it. In 1642 a Civil War broke out between
the Royalists and the supporters of parliament, the
Roundheads

under

Oliver

Cromwell.

The

Roundheads won, Charles was beheaded and the


monarchy abolished. England was, in effect a
republic for 11 years, governed by Lord Protector
(first Cromwell and then his son). But in 1660 the
age of Restoration began when Charles's son Charles II, was made king.
Retirement: Victoria

When Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, died in 1861, the Queen
suffered a terrible depression. She withdrew from public life and spent more
time at her palaces in Scotland and on the Isle of Wight than she did in
London. For over 20 years she performed no national duties. People became
critical of the monarchy and, in the time of huge industrial and scientific
progress, members of parliament began to talk about republicanism. But
Victoria recovered and in 1897 her Diamond Jubilee, celebrating a record 60
years on the throne, was a great public relations success with huge processions,
ceremonies and public celebrations.
Abdication: Edward VIII
When George V died in January 1936 his heir Edward was in love with a twice-divorced
American woman, Wallis Simpson. His family and the government disapproved of Mrs Simpson,
but Edward wanted to marry her. In the end he was forced to choose between his love and the
throne, and he chose to abandon the throne. In
December of that yean five months before his
planned coronation and with war threatening
the

world, Edward VIII addressed the nation by


radio and told them that "I have found it
impossible to carry on the heavy burden of
responsibility and to discharge the duties of king

... without the help and support of the woman I love". His brother George V took his place at the
coronation, and proved to be a strong monarch. When George's daughter, Princess Elizabeth,
came

to

the

throne

in

1952

monarchy

was

once

again

extremely

popular.

Tragedy: Princess Diana


In modern times, people began to see the monarchy as outdated, but the royal family was
given a tremendous boost in 1981, when Prince Charles married the popular Princess Diana.
Diana became an international superstar; more popular than her husband from whom she
divorced

in

1996.

When she died in a car crash in 1997 many people accused the royal family of treating her badly
during

her

marriage

and

abandoning

her

after

her

divorce.

The Queen and Prince Charles suffered


a huge drop in popularity, and they
were advised to modernize and become
less formal and distant. Celebrations for
the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002
were deliberately kept low-key, as the
organizers feared that the public would
not be interested.
Ovidius University, Constanta
Faculty of Letters
BRITISH HISTORY AND CIVILIZATION

POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS IN BRITAIN :

THE UPS AND DOWNS OF BRITISH


MONARCHY

STUDENT: DRGAN ANCA