Episode 1 Pomp And Popularity – The Queen is still cheered wherever she goes emphasizing the remarkable survival of the monarchy in britain while other countries have either lost their kings and queens or made them insignificant. This series looks at the monarchy at a time when the very public problems in the private lives of the royal family has fueled a new debate about the monarchy’s place in british society. But whatever it’s difficulties today history shows that the monarchy has managed to survive even greater crisis in the past.
Episode 2 Crown And Country – The contrast between the position of the Prince of Wales and a group of young unemployed people he addresses at a week long course, sponsored by the Prince’s Trust, could not be more stark, and it goes to the heart of a central problem for the monarchy today. What short of relation should it, the embodiment of class, have to a society that is supposed to be increasingly class-less. The monarchy itself has long been aware of this problem and the Prince of Wales is not the first member of his family to attempt to bridge the gap between crown and people. George VI, conscience that society was becoming democratic, established the Duke of York camps to bridge the gap between public and state school boys. This episode discusses the attempt of the royal family over the years to join crown and country.
Episode 3 The Wealth of the Windsors – Chester cathedral, the setting for royal maundy service, one of the highlights of the royal calender. The day on which, by tradition, the soverign distributes alms to the poor. The purses are red and white, the red contain 5.50 pounds in cash. The royal maundy service is one of the rare occasions on which the Queen actually handles money, one of the few times when royalty is seen giving money away. The subject of money has developed into one of the most contentious issues surrounding the british monarchy today. A recent opinion pole shows that 3/4 of the population think that the royal family should not receive as much money as it does, and almost have went further still, saying the royal family is an expense the country cannot afford. So just what is the true cost of the monarchy and how harmful are arguments about money likely to be to the house of Windsor.
Episode 4 The Power And The Glory – The annual state opening of parliament is a magnificent royal event but it’s not just a glittering show. Beyond the diamonds and gold, red velvet and ermin the entire ritual symbolizes the role of the monarch at the apex of the british political system. A system of government that has not changed in its fundamentals for hundreds of years. Most people today tend to assume that despite the trappings, the political role of the monarchy is wholy symbolic long since stripped of any real significance. In fact the monarchy continues to have a great impact on the character of british politics and the queen herself continues to play the pivotal role in the political system. What has changed is the balance of power.
Episode 5 The Kingdom United – Every year the Queen spends a week at Holyrood House, Edinburgh and holds a garden party. Whilst in Scotland her honor guard is provided by the royal company of archers, amateur soldiers drawn from the local gentry. The Queen’s presence in Scotland is a very significant part of her role for the Queen is the head of a United Kingdom of diverse nations, each with their own culture. The monarchy in many ways has been the cement that binds the union together.
Episode 6 Long To Reign Over US ? – Prince William is second in line to the throne and might be expected to succeed his father as king of Great Britain and Northern Ireland sometime in the 2030’s but is his throne secure? A whole range of factors have made the monarchy seem less impregnable then when the queen came to the throne. The enormous changes in Britain since then, have meant that questions have increasingly arisen about the monarchies position in a class-less society, about it’s lifestyle, about its finances. All these problems have come to a head with the public unraveling of the royal family. Throughout the century the image of the british monarchy has been centered on it’s appeal as an idealized family. Noone could fail to have noticed that in the queen’s 40th anniversary year all this has shaterred. The result is that there is a growing belief that the royal family’s problems have gone so far that the long term survival of the monarchy in Britain cannot be guaranteed. So is abolition of the monarchy a real possibility?