OK, so a lot of this — including the responses -is way off the mark!
In the first place. The monarch does not have to be apolitical — that is a personal decision of the current Queen and is atypical of monarchs as a whole. The Crown is an institution, as opposed to the person of the monarch, and is apolitical. The Crown, like the US Constitution, is the source of authority — it is what gives elected governments the power to enact the will of the people. The crucial difference is that the monarch is not elected (or even allowed to vote), is not a member of any political party, and is required to remain neutral on government policy (eg by not intervening in election campaigns or Parliamentary debates) and to stay out of party politics. That is no more (and no less) than is expected of a Civil Servant.
Her Majesty displays a personal lack of interest in social and other issues which is typical of a woman of her class and generation. Prince Charles, on the other hand, has made no secret of his strong views on social and environmental issues, and has put them into practice in various ways, including the Princes’ Trust and the manner in which he runs not only his personal estate, but the Duchy of Cornwall.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were both fully involved in wartime work which can only be described as political. They led by example, refusing to leave London even at the height of the Blitz, but evacuating their daughters to Windsor, just as so many London families were obliged to send their children away. They lived on the same rations as everyone else, and Buckingham Palace was bombed several times -specifically targeted. Such actions as the invitation for Eleanor Roosevelt to visit Buckingham Palace before the US had joined the war, and allowing Princess Elizabeth to join the ATS, were very far from apolitical. Don’t be blinded by the adulation heaped on Churchill. The working classes despised him for his treatment of the Jarrow Marchers. It was to the Royal Family they looked for leadership, and the shy, sensitive King and his formidable Queen were tireless in providing it.
The current reign has been overshadowed by the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936. That act, held by Queen Mary and Duchess Elizabeth (later Queen and Queen Mother) to be a gross dereliction of duty, propelled the Duke of York -who had been happily living the quiet life of a country squire with his wife and daughters -to a rank he neither expected nor desired. Despite his shyness, his desire above all for a quiet family life, he undertook the role with dedication and energy, and performed brilliantly during one of the most perilous periods of this countrys’ long history. Nevertheless, many believe that it was the stress of being King -for which he had never been prepared -that led to his early death in 1952 (he was 56).
This has left Queen Elizabeth II with an intense sense of duty which she seems unable to shake even in her 90s, and which places a severe psychological block in the way of any attempts to persuade her to step aside. It has also instilled in her a caution and conservatism which lies at the heart of many of the current issues the family faces. Her refusal to allow any of her children to have a ‘proper job’ -especially after the failure of Prince Edwards’ TV production company — is one of them. The Press complaints about Prince Williams’ supposed ‘laziness’ were actually directed at his attempts to continue working as a helicopter pilot for the Coastguard and later the Air ambulance, rather than concentrate entirely on Royal duties — they were orchestrated by the Palace.
The result has left Prince Charles in the position of mediating between his intransigent mother and an increasingly fractious younger generation. He and Princess Diana decided to raise their sons in a less isolated atmosphere than the one he was brought up in. It has paid dividends in giving both young men a wider circle of contacts and greater social skills, but it has also exposed them to real issues and inspired the urge to be active in confronting them.
Given Harrys’ pathological dislike of the Press, his determination and intelligence, his energy and commitment on certain issues and his increasing distance from the succession, a move of this kind was inevitable. While his choice of life-partner may have exacerbated or accelerated this action, it has not fundamentally changed the reasons for, or inevitability of, it. Had the Queen taken the sensible opportunity to step back when her mother died, making Charles Regent or having him crowned, the whole situation would have been different. His more modern outlook and personal flexibility would have allowed a compromise, or at least a less noisy and messy exit for the Sussexes.