Britons party for the Queen – but not the monarchy

LONDON, May 20 (Reuters) – 12-year-old Momin Rashid, who practices Bollywood dance moves in her school gymnasium in central England, is delighted to be one of 10,000 performers who will take part in a competition to honor Queen Elizabeth’s 70th birthday. The throne.

The event will conclude four days of nationwide celebrations next month to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, bringing together military bands, dancers and well-known figures from sport and entertainment.

“I feel a bit nervous because 10,000 people is a lot and I could get the dance moves wrong,” Rashid said.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Register

But while Rashid, who is of Pakistani descent and born in Birmingham, looks forward to dancing outside Buckingham Palace and says the Queen loves her people, the monarchy itself is a somewhat distant concept.

When asked if he felt close to the royal family, he immediately replied: “No”.

Polls suggest that such an attitude should come as no surprise. Elizabeth, 96, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, enjoys great popularity according to surveys, with many of her subjects, especially older ones, holding her in deep affection.

But the picture of the monarchy as a whole is less clear. A study by think tank British Future found that 58% of people believed the country should keep the institution for the foreseeable future, but 25% believed the end of the Queen’s reign was the time for Britain to become a republic.

In Scotland, less than half supported the monarchy, young people were also much more ambivalent and only 37% of ethnic minorities supported the royal family compared to 33% who would prefer a republic after the queen.

While Elizabeth has remained above the fray, the institution’s reputation took a hit last year, with her son Prince Andrew settling a US lawsuit, in which he was accused of sexually abusing a a teenager, in February.

This follows the exodus of his grandson, Prince Harry, who left his royal duties to settle in Los Angeles with his American wife Meghan and son Archie, from where they accused Buckingham Palace. racism and indifference.

“The incredible Queen has been here for 70 years leading our country – I think we should celebrate that and that’s something to celebrate,” Milen Champaneri, 16, said at his Birmingham home where he lives. his Anglo-Indian family.

“But I feel like sooner or later we won’t see many more (jubilees) and I feel like the monarchy will die out soon.”

soured connection

Her mother Anita said her sense of connection to the monarchy had deteriorated in recent years, leaving her uneasy about celebrating the Platinum Jubilee and also questioning the longevity of the monarchy.

The 49-year-old PR professional was a devoted royal fan, collecting memorabilia and traveling to Windsor for Harry and Meghan’s dazzling 2018 wedding.

“As a non-white person, people felt really, really involved,” Champaneri said of looking at photos of herself at the event.

“This year I feel like I really don’t want to because we’re celebrating a family that can’t do right with themselves; whether it’s the mistreatment of Harry and Meghan, or the way Archie wasn’t kissed because they didn’t give him a principality, or the way they turned a blind eye to Andrew’s antics.”

In Brixton, south London, the feeling is similar.

“The Queen…I love her. How she holds things together through trials and tribulations. Her husband is dead, her children are going through so much and she still does her duty. I respect that,” a Jamaican man said 62 years old. born Michael Davis.

“I’m not sure that after the death of the queen it will be the same,” he added. “We all know that kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall throughout history.”

For those organizing the Jubilee pageant, there is hope that the event will bring the nation together and showcase the country’s diverse cultures.

According to the Britain First report, just over half of those polled believed the monarchy could play a role in bridging the nation’s divides, with 47% of people from ethnic minorities agreeing.

For us, the competition is about exploring the 70 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, but also the change that has taken place in our society, said the event’s chief executive, Rosanna Machado.

Back at Birmingham’s George Dixon Academy where Year 7 students are rehearsing their dance for the competition choreographer Simmy Gupta hopes the occasion will have some influence on them.

“They could see the monarchy in a different way because they were part of this show and this experience,” she said.

But Sangita Bhunia, 12, who was born in Kolkata and came to the UK aged six, said she was most excited about one day.

“I mean, it’s not really because of her (the Queen)… I wanted to go because it’s London, I’ve never been there.”

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Register

Written by Michael Holden; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Joseph K. Bennett