LETTER: Need for the monarchy to modernise

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The Independent Online
Sir: The events of the last week are of massive significance. The death of Princess Diana has provoked a media-driven period of mass grieving that has now developed into much more. Many people have expressed their surprise at their personal sense of loss.

This is not just because Princess Diana was a special person who gave so much to others, but because she was the one figure who, for many and especially the young, had made the Royal Family accessible and relevant in recent times. She was the people's hope of much needed reform and modernisation of Britain's monarchy.

The staid and aloof position of the Royal Family is no longer acceptable to the people. The mood of the public has changed and sadness is being replaced by anger and resentment of the Windsors' reign. Much of this feeling has been swelling up over recent years with damaging revelations about royal behaviour as well as frustration over the Palace's determination and reluctance to introduce change. The death of Princess Diana has provided a catalyst to the sudden release of these feelings and although loyalty will remain as strong as ever for Prince William and Prince Harry, confidence in the Queen and Prince Charles has greatly suffered.

What we are witnessing amounts to a revolution; a peaceful but unmistakable call from the country for the monarchy to modernise and adopt a more "human" approach to its subjects. Early indications show the Palace is willing to respond to the public's demand for a new role. The danger is that now people have seen that their pressure can produce and influence royal policy, they will not be content if the monarchy revert back to old ways after the funeral.

If the Queen cannot bring herself to recognise the extent of public feeling, then a change of monarch may be demanded. Since it now seems likely that public opinion will exclude Charles from the Crown, the only publicly acceptable candidate is Prince William. However, it will be many years before he is ready for such a responsibility . It remains to be seen whether the country has the patience to wait.


Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire