I had the pleasure of speaking to royal expert Christopher Warwick on March 4 about his incredible career which has seen him write several books and offer commentary to numerous media outlets. We talked about his views on the royal family today and what he believes the future holds for people like Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George.
Sadly, Christopher died aged 72 on March 14, meaning MyLondon had the privilege of conducting one of his final interviews. We talked about everything from how the Queen changed when her mother died in 2002 to who the Queen is closest to her views on what will happen to the monarchy in the years to come.
Who do you think are the most important people to the Queen at this point in her life?
“It’s not that easy to answer because many of the most important people in the Queen’s life are no longer with us. Her husband is gone, her mother is gone, her sister is gone, her friends the closest ones are practically gone, so it’s pretty hard to tell.Obviously, the people she will see a lot are Edward Young (the Queen’s private secretary) and Angela Kelly (her personal assistant and main dresser), of course, who is very supportive of her.
“The Queen will also have those in her entourage, Sophie and Edward (the Earl and Countess of Wessex) would of course certainly be among them. It’s perfectly true that the Queen is very fond of Sophie and has a very high opinion of her, so there would be this inner circle of family members but, saying that, they all have their own private lives, their own official lives. , so it won’t be like they’re going to say ‘Oh what should we do this afternoon? Oh, I know, let’s go see mum at the castle”.
What do you think the Queen is worried about?
“I think what we need to remember is that, yes, she’s a queen, yes, she’s a head of state, but sometimes it’s easy for us to forget the fact that she’s also human and that she is a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. From the point of view of being a head of state and being a queen, I don’t think it’s true to say that the queen is a worrier, she is most certainly realistic. And since childhood, she has always been able to compartmentalize things in her life, she can put them away.
“I think, as with all of us, the seriousness of the global situation right now with Russia and Ukraine is going to be something that concerns her and she will hear more than we are told. She will know thanks from her interviews with Boris Johnson and from her state papers which she deals with every day of what is going on – she will know more than a lot of people.”
How has the queen changed throughout her reign?
“One thing is that as the Queen gets older she is much more referred to as ‘Her Majesty’ whereas she was always known as the Queen during the Queen Mother’s lifetime. I think it’s a mark of greater respect, of almost reverence. The queen herself is much more relaxed since her mother’s death and I cite two examples for this.
“If the Queen Mother were still alive, the Queen would never have done the Daniel Craig James Bond skit for the Olympics because mum wouldn’t have thought it was the right thing to do. The other example is in Angela Kelly’s book where the Queen posed with her hand in her pockets – it would never have happened if mum had always been there.
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“The public perception of the Queen Mother was that of this little old lady in her double-breasted bodices, flowing muslins, feathered hats but, as we all know, she was an iron fist in a velvet glove. is why, of course, the Queen knew what Mom would have thought.
“There’s a great story I was told that the queen and her mum would come up with something and they were obviously arguing in the car because when the door opened the queen mother had just said ‘Honey, who do you think you are?’ and we heard the queen say “I’m the queen, mum. I am the queen”.
What do you think will happen to the monarchy when the queen is no longer with us?
“ There is, of course, the most enormous respect and affection for the Queen. So when her time comes, we will mourn someone many of us knew because she ruled for 70+ years. B But I don’t think Prince Charles possesses his mother’s warmth and I’m talking to the general public that people won’t have the same sense of respect or affection for Charles that they have for the Queen.
“To speak quite personally, I think he’s a good egg and he’s a man who’s misrepresented and misunderstood, but I don’t think people have ever understood where he’s coming from and he’s quite easy to make fun of him because he talks to plants and trees, but, you know, he’s a very committed, very intelligent man who will make a very good king.
“But there’s also the fact that he could be 76-77 when he takes the throne given the longevity of his parents and grandmother. If he is over seventy when he takes the throne, he could still hold the position 20 years later, which could raise questions about his effectiveness when he reaches his mother’s age.”
Why do you think people keep suggesting the Queen will abdicate for Prince Charles?
“People, when they talk about whether or not the queen will abdicate, never fail to amaze me because they clearly don’t know that there is a fundamental reason why the queen will never abdicate and that is because at her coronation, she took an oath and was crowned queen. Foreign monarchs are installed, so they can give up, they can stand aside, they can withdraw. Our queen has no intention of doing this and that’s because she is an enshrined queen.”
How important do you think Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis will be for the future of the monarchy?
“My opinion has been whether or not there will be a throne that George will inherit and one thing senior members of the royal family need to do is continue to prove respect for the monarchy. Indifference is a killer and if the nation becomes indifferent to the monarchy, you might as well pack your bags because the royals are there by consent of the nation, they are not there by act of God.
“William and Catherine are already celebrities and I think there is a danger in having a celebrity monarchy that only becomes royal in name – whereby people will start to question its validity.
“If George inherits the throne, what kind of monarchy will he lead? We will have his parents who might well be first class monarchs, William might be a very good king and Catherine might be a very good queen consort. We can I don’t foresee what will happen from the beginning of Charles’ reign until the day he takes the throne. We don’t know what the monarchy will represent, we don’t know the tone of it, but what is essential for its survival , is its relevance.”
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