Britain’s most powerful family — its royal family — has taken a neutral stance one one of the most controversial topics in UK history: the Brexit.
While the House of Windsor has remained mum on the UK’s departure from the EU, we know that UK Prime Minister David Cameron traveled to Buckingham Palace to resign to the Queen in person.
According to the queen and the royal family’s representatives, royals in the UK “above politics,” and do not vote. In the past, indications of Queen Elizabeth’s political leanings have been met with controversy. In 1986 The Sunday Telegraph wrote a scathing editorial in response to reports that the queen was worried about then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s opposition to sanctions against South Africa, as The New York Times noted at the time.
“These are matters which the monarchy can only meddle with at the institution's gravest peril,” The Telegraph editorial asserted.
After the referendum for Scottish independence back in 2014, Cameron let it slip to then-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg that the queen “purred down the line” when he called her to report that Scotland would indeed be staying in the UK. He issued a public apology for confirming the world’s suspicions that the queen didn’t want Scotland to divorce the UK.
It’s no surprise that the royals have remained neutral during the whole Brexit debate, though everybody’s been looking for signs of how they really feel.
In February, Prince William gave a speech to British diplomats at the Foreign Office in London saying, “In an increasingly turbulent world, our ability to unite in common action with other nations is essential. It is the bedrock of our security and prosperity and is central to your work.”
Many speculated that he was calling for his country to stay in the EU, but Kensington Palace immediately clarified with this statement: “This speech was not about Europe. He does not mention the word Europe once.”
So does this officially neutral stance mean the royals must sit idly as they watch their country fall to economic and political uncertainty? Yes and no.
The royal family provides a point of stability for a very unstable Britain, and can help the country by promoting tourism (which will prove an important job if the pound continues to fall). Approval ratings for the British Monarchy range between 65% and 80%, and their “keep calm and carry on” attitude could set an example for the rest of the UK. Their power remains unthreatened, and they will continue to attend events and public ceremonies.
The Queen is 90, and though she is in seemingly good health, there is a worry that she’ll pass away before Brexit negotiations are finished. In that case, the UK may have another referendum, as British Republicans have demanded a vote to end the monarchy in the case of her death.