By Emma Dooney
Hilary Mantel has shared her thoughts on the future of the Royal Family—and they’re not exactly optimistic.
- Hilary Mantel has shared her thoughts on the future of the Royal Family in a recent interview.
- The Wolf Hall author believes that the monarchy could end with Prince William, after speculating that there is ‘conflict’ within the institution.
- In other royal news, fuss-free Princess Anne 'commands the respect' needed to honor Prince Philip after his death.
Hilary Mantel has shared her honest thoughts on the Royal Family, detailing her predictions for its future in the 21st century.
The bestselling historical novelist opened up about the state of the British monarchy in a recent interview, offering some candid opinions on what's to come for the 1200-year-old institution.
“I think it’s the end game,” she told The Telegraph. “I’m not sure if it will outlast William. So I think it will be their last big era.”
Mantel, who is best known for fictionalizing the life of Thomas Cromwell under the reign of King Henry VIII in her Wolf Hall trilogy, goes on to explain why she believes the monarchy is edging towards extinction.
According to the two-time Booker Prize winner, the Royal Family is held together by the commitment of its aging leader, rather than a collective desire among its members to serve their country. Without the Queen, the foundation of the British monarchy looks less than secure.
“I understand that she thinks of this as a sacred task, from which you simply cannot abdicate, whereas the rest of us think of it as a job, from which you should be able to retire,” Mantel said.
Although the esteemed author was hesitant to discuss Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s withdrawal as senior royals, this comment appears to reference the couple’s widely covered decision to leave the UK for a new life overseas last year.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stunned the Royal Family and the outside world when they announced they would be stepping back from their frontline roles and moving to California in January 2020, a choice they discussed in detail during their bombshell interview with Oprah in March.
“I wonder if she (the Queen) is the only person who really believes in the monarchy now, and I’m sure she believes with all her heart,” Mantel went on. “She believes that she cannot cease to be a monarch—she made those promises to God.
"It’s a conflict because most of the world sees the Royal Family as a branch of show business," she adds. "And I’m sure that is very far from the Queen’s own thinking.”
Mantel isn't the only person to speculate on the future of the UK monarchy. The place of the Royal Family in today’s society has been widely debated, with as many as one in five Brits calling for its abolition. On top of its reputation for reinforcing classism, the monarchy has been plagued by a series of scandals in recent years.
The Royal Family's recent scandals
Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second son, came under major scrutiny when he was first linked to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2011. The Duke of York brought further shame to the Royal Family in 2019, when he shared a number of damning revelations about his relationship with the late criminal in a BBC Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis. He admitted to staying in Epstein’s mansion in 2010 after he'd been convicted, explaining that the accommodation was “convenient” at the time. He also denied having sex with Virginia Giuffre, one of the survivors of Epstein’s sex trafficking ring, claiming to have been at a Pizza Express in Woking when the alleged incident took place.
The Royal Family again suffered a major PR blow last March when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle told Oprah that an unidentified senior member of the Firm had voiced concerns about their baby's skin color. Buckingham Palace responded to the allegations of racism in a rare statement, and Prince William denied the claims to a reporter following the interview.
Public opinion of the Royal Family has also likely been influenced by Netflix's hit show, The Crown. The less-than-favorable depiction of the monarchy in the four-season series prompted calls for a historical disclaimer from some royal fans, to diffuse the potential for interpreting the content as factual.
Why was Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's withdrawal from the Royal Family so significant?
The loss of Prince Harry as one of the institution’s main representatives permanently shifted the public face of the Royal Family, raising doubts about its longevity in the modern era.
A bestowed role once viewed as a lifelong duty was suddenly being treated like a standard job, to be listed on the resumé among favorite hobbies and contact details. Harry and Meghan's joint departure didn't just dock a couple of salaries from the Firm's payroll—it completely reset the expectations of Royal Family's members. By scrunching up the eternal contract of aristocratic employment, the couple has inadvertently prompted the inevitable question of who’s next to resign.
Emma is a news writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life. She covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health or lifestyle story. When she's not reporting on the British monarchy and A-list celebs, you can find her whipping up vegan treats and running the roads to cheesy '90s pop music...but not at the same time, obviously.
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