A memo for a new King: What would make the Monarchy relevant today?

Reactions to the lavish coronation of King Charles III have not been universally positive. This is unsurprising, given that people world-wide are struggling to meet their basic needs and experiencing the early-stage whip-end of climate change. Yet, the monarchy could be relevant in today’s world in 4 powerful ways –

1.     Hold business to account

Unfettered capitalism could be contained by the moderating influence of those with a long-term world view. Most CEO’s are incentivized on short-term gains. The monarchy looks to reign over multi-generations and holds a long-term interest in the sustainability of the country.

Using soft power to hold business to account over the long term allows time for the realisation of the positive effect of regenerative and intergenerational thinking. In addition, leveraging their own considerable asset base as a demonstrator, the Monarchy could look to disinvest, use shareholder power and actively invest into organisations that represent seeds of future prosperity.

Following on, the Kings relationship with Parliament could also serve the people should he use it to support regulation around long-term thinking for UK business and to help the UK step away from personal or embedded short-term interests.

King Charles does this already to some extent, through his support of business coalitions for change (e.g. We Mean Business), the Princes Trust and Duchy Organics. It would be powerful if this was further used as the lens across the Royals supply chain and asset base. Imagine if Buckingham Palace had undergone a green refurbishment? Or if the Kings financial interests were all invested in green, future-facing assets?

This should be core to his continued representation of Britain to prepare the country to survive post-Capitalism and to set it out as a beacon for other nations.

2.     Model reparations

The Crown, as head of the British Empire, benefitted unduly from both colonial excess and slavery. The Empire hollowed out vast swathes of the world for Britain’s benefit and much of the wealth of the Royal Family is based on this extractionism. The Empire detained vast swathes of population, set draconian laws or wiped-out whole populations to exercise control.

Many of these places have never fully recovered and are trapped into debilitating poverty and structural debt. This extractionism continues across the world as resources (e.g., rare earth minerals, oil, human capital, etc.) are taken from developing countries. It is particularly unpleasant where payment for these resources is linked to paying back structural debt.

Reparations are long overdue. King Charles has spoken out against slavery and is funding research into the Crowns role. He could change the fate of many of the countries that served his Empire by eradicating debt, developing structures to fund people out of poverty and lobby to change one-sided trade agreements.

At the very least he could right the wrong of colonial looting through returning the koh-i-noor diamond and other stolen trophies.

3.     Use convening power for good

Not many would refuse an invitation from the King of Britain. While this title still holds some cache, King Charles should use it to bring together different groups to further progressive aims. Given Britain’s role in the origination of the Palestine/Israel conflict, brokering peace there is a good place to start. Similarly, the King could also look to the UK’s buoyant weapon sector and its role in stimulating war across the world. A convening group here to curtail their activities to defence could also support world peace.

There is also a role to pull together coalitions of the businesses that currently make up both the bulk of tax revenue for UK Plc. – and have a disproportionate influence on climate emissions. These are oil & gas and financial services. As a long-term leader for Britain, he could influence them to create transition plans towards a cleaner, more equitable future.

4.     Shift narratives

In relation to the Monarchy, we are not consumers but citizens. This is a welcome reframing of our role as beings with inherent value vs market value. A reframe could enable us to step out of the individualism and separation that characterises this late stage of capitalism and find more meaningful ways to live as connected contributors to society.

There are few institutions with the wealth and reach of the British Monarchy. King Charles can make a considerable difference to the lives of people today and to future generations by deftly wielding his assets and influence. 


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