Will King Charles stop this extreme royal tradition that has a worrying impact on UK's history?

The Royal Family is known to be very controlling when it comes to its image. But this desire for control is damaging History.

King Charles asked to stop extreme royal tradition as it has lasting impact on UK's history
© Max Mumby/Indigo / GETTY IMAGES
King Charles asked to stop extreme royal tradition as it has lasting impact on UK's history

The Royal Family’s image is their most valuable currency. Indeed, this family’s role in the world and the country depends on how they are perceived. Without public approval they risk losing their relevance and the throne.

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To protect their image the Royal Family and their staff fight hard. The clothes, the hair, each decision, all of it is carefully chosen. And if someone or something risks damaging the image, there are consequences. We’ll take two examples, an old and a new.

First, Edward VIII who had to abdicate as he couldn’t marry his beloved as she was a divorcee. Second, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Need we say more?Abdication and relocation are only two ways the Royal Family protects its image. They have more and one of them is having a very lasting impact.

A royal bonfire

This is a practice that is having historians all over the world desperate and angry. Indeed, it is common knowledge that the Royal Family has a nasty habit of burning documents after someone dies.

An article published by The Sydney Morning Herald in 2022 following Queen Elizabeth II’s death begs for the tradition to stop. They explain that throughout history, historians and therefore world citizens have lost pieces of extreme relevance.

They write:

Princess Margaret ensured enormous piles of letters written by the Queen Mother disappeared (...)
When Queen Victoria died, her correspondence with her beloved Highland servant, John Brown, with whom she had a palpably intimate relationship, and her Indian tutor, Abdul Karim, were destroyed.

Basically, everything that can embarrass or damage the Royal Family is destroyed or edited. For instance, Julia Baird from The Sydney Morning Herald says:

(Queen Victoria’s) voluminous diaries were edited by her daughter Beatrice, who made her mother out to be tamer and less emotional and rewrote them in her own hand.

After her death, Lady Diana’s belongings were carefully combed through twice: by her mother and by Princess Margaret who ensured that the correspondence between Diana and the Queen Mother never came to light. Other moments, more controversial, like the ties of the Royal Family to the Nazis are protected with a vengeance. Either kept away in archives no one can enter or simply destroyed.

Queen Elizabeth’s diaries

The Royal Family argues that these documents are private and that’s why they are free to do with them as they please. However, many historians and members of the public have demanded that the burning and editing of documents stop on the basis that the ‘monarchy’ and its members are both ‘private’ people and ‘a part of the constitution’.

An article from Daily Mail has revealed that Queen Elizabeth’s belongings were currently being sorted by her trusted footman and not by members of the family. According to the tabloid, footman Paul Whybrew, is doing a ‘very good job’ at sorting out the documents. Unfortunately for historians and the public, this ‘very good job’ doesn’t bode well as Whybrew was known to do whatever he could to protect the Queen. There is very little chance that he will allow anything embarrassing or controversial to make its way to the Royal Library or Archive.

Historians are asking King Charles to step in and stop this destruction of valuable documents which the late Queen herself said were:

far more truthful than anything you’ll ever read in the newspapers.

In the UK, kids every year learn a lot about previous monarchs as part of their History lessons. However, is what they are taught even true? One thing is for certain, they aren't taught the whole truth. We never are when it comes to History anyway...

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The Guardian: The Guardian view on the royal archives: open them up

The Sydney Morning Herald: God save our history: it’s time King Charles called off royal censors

Mail Online: No wonder historians are alarmed - BINBAGS full of Diana's letters were destroyed, writes CHRISTOPHER WILSON. The royals have a long history of setting fire to their past...

Royal author reveals Princess Diana didn't believe Camilla was the reason for her divorce with King Charles Royal author reveals Princess Diana didn't believe Camilla was the reason for her divorce with King Charles