“The queen died before we heard the news”

The future of King Charles III, the position of Prince Harry… The specialist of the British monarchy analyzes the impact of the death of Elizabeth II on the royal family.

Everything is so fast. And as always, information related to major events that point to the fate of the British monarchy is scant. On September 8 at noon, we learned that Elizabeth II, whose health condition was considered “concerned” by her doctors, was under medical assistance at Balmoral. Then the members of the royal family immediately went to his bed: a clear sign that the sovereign lived in his last moments. The day after his death, announced at the beginning of the evening, Stéphane Bern, specialist in crowned heads, looks backstage at a decisive day for the history of the royal family, and the sometimes tense relationship between its members. As well as the future of the latter.

Madame Figaro.- The royal family quickly arrived at the queen’s bedside, after the announcement was made about her “concerned” state of health. Is this a sign that the inevitable is about to happen?
Stéphane Bern .- Sure, but he was dead long before we heard the news. There is a rule in Great Britain: you cannot announce the death of a sovereign in the evening papers. That’s why we announced it at 7:30 pm so the information is on Times and the Daily Telegraph the next morning.

In the video, Elizabeth II, is a famous queen

And, perhaps, leave some privacy to the royal family in the first hours of their mourning?
Yes, but only Princess Anne and King Charles were at his bedside when he died, according to the British royal chronicler.

Charles and Elizabeth, an inseparable “duo”

In his first press release, King Charles talks about his ‘beloved mother’. Has their relationship lasted?
No. It’s true that she didn’t understand that he divorced her, that she no longer fought for her marriage. But Elizabeth and Charles are a duo: if you are the sovereign, you can be angry, but not with your heir. Their relationship seems cold. It’s a question of upbringing: none of them were raised to show their feelings. Charles did not receive tenderness from his mother, but at the same time she showed him a lot of trust, respect. And they have the same sense of humor: we remember Charles’s polite way of always saying “mom“and”His Majesty“. I think he was really upset. He’s a sensitive person, of course, but what surprised me most about the news release was that it sparked a period of mourning and renewal.

Because it tells us immediately: paradigms change. I think we will move to a stricter, smaller, less luxurious and less formal monarchy. The coronation will not be like that of 1953. The royal family will be reduced to its simplest expression, Charles’ brothers will have to work elsewhere. He will keep the family in a little bond. It is a change of time, a change of air, a change of the world.

I think Charles was really upset. He is a sensitive person

Stephane Bern

However, sometimes we have the impression that this is a “transitional” reign before the arrival of Kate and William, who seem more capable of modernizing the monarchy…
Charles III would soon be 74 years old, his reign was to be one of transition. But this is a very useful move to establish William’s throne, by ridding it of the tinsel of the past, things that are a bit troublesome inherent in tradition. We must not forget that a good tradition is a tradition that evolves.

The return of Prince Harry?

The position of prince harryasked. He was the last to arrive at Balmoral, the first to leave… Should we read this in the light of Megxit and the tensions that kept him away from the royal family? Does he, despite everything, remain close to the queen?
No, he probably went back to his wife. I believe Harry will be here in the next ten days. We cannot imagine that he and his wife Meghan Markle will not be at the funeral, which will take place in ten days. The queen saw Harry kicking the stretchers, but kept her affection for him. At the same time, when it is necessary to decide and decide whether he keeps his titles or not (after “Megxit”, Editor’s note), he said “no, you have to choose”, of which he was right. He told him very kindly, but Harry had to decide his fate and accept it. He was, without a doubt, the one who most understood, at the time of Diana’s death, what she was going through. He understands his mistakes, his problems, he is very close to this “child” whose weaknesses he sees. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his other grandchildren, but he has a special affection for them, he makes them laugh. Their relationship clearly exceeded protocol. He asked her to talk to Barack Obama about the Invictus Games(the Paralympic sports competition held by Prince Harry, Ed), for example. And then he admired the military: his son Andrew was one, and so was Harry.

In the video, the BBC announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth has a special affection for Prince Harry

Stephane Bern

What is the place of the grandchildren at the funeral?
They are all there. The whole family is there, we will see the protocol that will be implemented in the next few days. But Charles and Camilla will lead the mourning. Kate and William will undoubtedly have a prominent place, but perhaps not their children. I don’t know how traumatic it is for a child to attend a great-grandparent’s funeral.

Meghan and Harry’s children, Archie and Lilibet, will likely remain in the United States. But will their becoming prince and princess when Elizabeth II dies help bring the Sussexes closer to the royal family?
Absolutely. Whatever he does, whatever he says, Harry will always be Queen Elizabeth’s grandson.

From public to private

Basically, is Elizabeth II a mother and grandmother like everyone else?
She is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother at the same time. The difference is that he is a public figure. But I think privately, Elizabeth II is very warm and kind. Those who knew him well said that he loved talking to his grandchildren, that he sent short text messages, talked to them. He walked with them, asked them about their studies, what they wanted to do. Queen Elizabeth is very considerate of others. But when there is a photographer, everyone is on their toes.

Charles III’s accession to the throne was life-changing for the British monarchy

Personally, what image of this royal family do you remember?
That of people who are able to unite great moments, to mourn as well as joy, and who are thus able to unite the country. Because basically, when we talk about the royal family, we’re also talking about the great British family, including the Commonwealth. We feel the emotion of these people who are united by something greater than us, which spans the ages and speaks to each of us. The sociologist Théodore Zeldin said that basically, this family is like an image: each member represents a different color, but you need all this palette to make a beautiful picture. I think it represents them well.

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