THE WEEKEND wedding of Britainâ€™s Prince Charles to Camilla Parker-Bowles was much more than just the marriage of two lovers.
As heir to the British throne, Charlesâ€™ liaisons with Camilla have long been under scrutiny, on the face of it as the (scandalous) love affair of public figures, but more significantly as a vane to gauge the popularity of the monarchy and its significance over the longer term.
Charles is the non-too-charismatic next in line to succeed on one of the worldâ€™s most enduring monarchies. He had the misfortune of marrying a popular girl, Princess Diana and then being largely blamed for the breakdown of that marriage. Diana died a terrible death not long after she had been divorced from Charles, who himself had confessed to an adulterous relationship with Camilla.
Public sympathy in Britain and much of the world was, unsurprisingly, for Diana and immensely hostile to Charles and Camilla. Now the latter two have finally married, the big question is whether Camilla would be queen when her mother-in-law, Elizabeth II, goes.
By nature the existence of monarchies depends largely on whether they are deemed to still be relevant or not. Other than ruling monarchs, that are almost invariably absolute, constitutional or titular dynasties must play an acceptable role for them to continue existing. In relatively unstable Uganda, our (titular) kings â€” Toro, Buganda, Bunyoro, Busoga â€”â€” are seen to be a steadying influence on society.
Many of the western societies, as they became stable democracies, cast off their monarchies in favour of elected, accountable heads of state. This is the crossroads at which Charles may find himself. Right through to his motherâ€™s reign, the British monarchy has been popular and any lingering republican sentiments have always been snuffed out at the sentimental altar of an endearing monarchy. Charles, when his time comes, will need lots of luck to replicate the magic of his mother and the monarchs before her.
Best of luck, (King) Charles