British monarchy could be gone in just two generations: Hilary Mantel

LONDON • The British royals, who trace their history back more than 1,000 years, could be gone in two generations, writer Hilary Mantel said in an interview published last Saturday.

The monarchy traces its history back to at least William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066. It claims ties to the patchwork of kingdoms and principalities which stretched across what became England, Scotland and Wales long before that date.

Mantel - best known for her Wolf Hall trilogy, which traced Thomas Cromwell's rise from a blacksmith's son to Henry VIII's chief minister, and then his downfall and execution - said she admired the devotion of Queen Elizabeth, 95, and heir Charles, Prince of Wales.

"I think they do it as well as anyone possibly could, take it as seriously as anyone could," Mantel, 69, told The Times.

But when asked how long the monarchy had left, she said her "back of the envelope" calculation was just two generations.

"It's very hard to understand the thinking behind the monarchy in the modern world when people are just seen as celebrities," she said.

If her view turns out to be correct, Queen Elizabeth's great-grandson, Prince George, eight, who is third in line to the throne after his grandfather Charles, 72, and father Prince William, 39, will not be king.

Mantel triggered anger in Britain earlier this month by telling Italian newspaper La Repubblica that England was a washed-out place that ran on "the memory of power".

She described Brexiters as callow and ridiculous opportunists.

"I'd like people to stop shouting and start listening to each other," she said of Britain. "I think in this country at this time it would be a change that could save us."

Although surveys suggest a clear majority of Britons support the monarchy, and especially respect and admire the Queen, an opinion poll in May showed that young people in Britain would now prefer an elected head of state.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace declined to comment.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2021, with the headline 'British monarchy could be gone in just two generations: Hilary Mantel'. Subscribe