HomeInternational NewsBritain bids farewell to Queen Elizabeth with an outpouring of emotion, King Charles can handle his reign?

Britain bids farewell to Queen Elizabeth with an outpouring of emotion, King Charles can handle his reign?

Britain bids farewell to Queen Elizabeth with an outpouring of emotion, King Charles can handle his reign?

Britain bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday with a majestic funeral steeped in tradition and a send-off reflective of the broad popularity she managed to retain over her remarkable seven-decade reign.

Royal family members and dignitaries gathered at Westminster Abbey for a somber service. Presidents, prime ministers, princes and princesses, and other public figures sat side-by-side to pay their last respects – a testament to her far-reaching appeal and deft diplomacy.

The funeral, which served as both a state and religious service and marked the culmination of 10 days of mourning, honored the Queen with the sort of pageantry that she used to promote the royal family and “brand Britain” throughout her life.

Tens of thousands of people flocked to streets around Westminster Abbey and along the 25-mile procession route from central London to Windsor, hoping to catch a glimpse of the sovereign’s flag-draped coffin as it traveled by hearse to her final resting place.

In the third and last procession of the day, the Queen’s coffin was taken past throngs of well-wishers lining the Long Walk to Windsor Castle for her committal service and burial at St. George’s Chapel, where she was separated from the crown for the final time.

Later in the evening, she was interred together with her husband of 73 years, the Duke of Edinburgh, in the King George VI Memorial Chapel. An annex of St. George’s Chapel, it also houses the remains of the Queen’s father, her mother the Queen Mother, and her sister Princess Margaret.

Though the death of Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, had been anticipated and carefully planned for for years – funeral arrangements, codenamed “Operation London Bridge,” were long the subject of speculation – the magnitude of this moment of mourning and the public outpouring of emotion has still caught many off guard. Even for those who are not fans of the royal family, her death marks the end of an era, a shift in the national landscape.

At 96, the Queen had become an almost mythical symbol of stability amid constant change. Her 70-year rule was bookended by war and pandemic, punctuated by uncertainty about Britain’s role on the world stage. She was crowned as the sun had started to set on the British Empire, and her death has renewed a conversation about the country’s dark colonial past. It comes at a time of great political and economic upheaval, not only in the United Kingdom, but across the globe.

Can Charles be the king of hearts?

Charles, a king-in-waiting for 73 years, ascends to the throne with a central challenge: ensuring the future of the House of Windsor, with the disadvantage that he is less popular than his mother.

For Charles, it raises a question that’s a twist on the words once spoken by his ex-wife, Diana.

Can he be the king of people’s hearts?

“All the polling shows the majority of English people still want to retain the monarchy,” said Brian Feeney, a political commentator in Northern Ireland, where Charles and his second wife, Camilla, breezed through on Tuesday. “To what extent that loyalty is to the queen, and whether it will be maintained by Charles, is the question.”

Ten years ago, according to YouGov, nearly 75 percent of Britons were in favor of “continuing the monarchy,” a figure that dropped to the low 60s earlier this year. And while the queen’s personal popularity still hovered at around 81 percent before her death, support for Charles was far lower, at 54 percent.

He has appeared to gain backers in the emotional aftermath of his mother’s death. Pundits have praised him in recent days for displaying the bearing and gravitas of his kingly station. In a new YouGov survey, 63 percent of Britons said he would be “good king,” up from just 32 percent in May.

Yet 1 in 3 — or 35 percent — also say they’d like to see him retire before his death to make way for his more popular son William, compared with 25 percent who had said his mother should step down early. Fewer than half say he will do a “good job at being a unifying figure” for all parts of Britain.

Charles has begun to set the tone for his reign, and mount something of a charm offensive, in meticulously planned stops this week in each of the “four nations” of the United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

He has taken the royal “walkabout” — first popularized by his mother in the 1970s — to a more tactile level, reaching out to touch people, shaking with both hands. He accepted a cheek kiss from one emotive subject on the Mall in London — a breach of royal protocol but perhaps a public relations coup. In Belfast on Tuesday, he patted children’s heads. He sought out a corgi on the rope line, who gave him a lick. He gave the sense that he didn’t want to leave.

Polls suggest the monarchy enjoys less support in Scotland than in Britain as a whole. Scottish nationalists have said they would keep the crown in the event of independence from the United Kingdom. But some wonder whether Charles will exert the emotional grip the queen had on the Scottish people.

Charles has gone through decades of public rehabilitation since the years of his disastrous marriage to Princess Diana. He has won praise for his charity work and his prescient warnings of species extinction and climate change. He has also benefited from a reappraisal of his adultery, gaining a measure of sympathy for apparently being pressured into marriage while in love with another woman: Camilla, now the queen consort.

But Charles is still carrying baggage. And within Britain, at the heart of some people’s reluctance toward the new king is not so much a distaste for hereditary privilege or the shadow of colonialism, but the ghost of Diana.

“I am not a fan of Camilla. I was a fan of Diana,” said Belfast bartender Pamela McMurray, 37. “Obviously, you don’t know the person personally, but you have certain loyalties, so that is where that stems from.”

This article was first reported by CNN and Washington Post