The reign of Queen Elizabeth II will define an era and her death is a pivotal moment, a renowned historian has said.
Sir Anthony Seldon, a constitutional expert, told Sky News that it is inevitable the period that she was on the throne will be named after her.
But he said that the period that follows – which the prime minister Liz Truss said will be called the New Carolean age, after King Charles – will be potentially at least as important, or even more so, particularly for the long-term future of the monarchy.
He said: “With 15 prime ministers and one monarch, you obviously do that – It will be known [as that].
“And Charles will not reign for anything like as long, but he will be, I think, a defining monarch who helps the country adapt to its very different faces.
“It’s unimaginably different in 2022 to how it was in 1952 in terms of its aspirations, standing in the world, sense of its identity, make-up.
“We’re much more cosmopolitan, much more international. And it’s a… vastly different country to how it was”, said Sir Anthony, a former headmaster who has written biographies of six prime ministers and was knighted for services to education and modern political history.
But, he said, because of the change of monarch – particular as it comes at the same time as the UK has a new prime minister – there are unique challenges ahead.
He said: “His monarchy will be of extraordinary importance and will need to be of extraordinary importance, for the survival of the monarchy.
“He will need to show the flexibility and adaptability which he has done so supremely.”
Much of that need, he said, is down to the qualities of the woman who has headed the state for the past seven decades.
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“We have a change of monarch, and this last monarch has seen the country through 70 years of massive change, from a great power to a second-rate power, with a great empire, to losing that empire, largely,” Sir Anthony added.
“She’s seen the country through that period of stability without revolution or upset. And she’s been a great rallying figure. But the country hasn’t lost bits of it. It has the same territorial integrity when she went into it as it had at the end. And she is the still the point at the centre of the constitution.
“But it is the Crown that is that, rather than the person. She is dead and now the new person takes over and then all eyes will be on him.
“You can say we’re a democracy and therefore… the monarch doesn’t matter. The monarch does matter. We are both a democracy and a monarchy at the same time.
“We’ve just had a six-week leadership competition in the Conservatives, who is going to be our next prime minister. But the Queen died, and instantaneously King Charles becomes the King. The Queen is dead. Long live the King. And that is the point. That is the continuity that has been the backbone of this country since 1066. That’s the way it works.
“It’s extraordinary… that we entered this week with Boris Johnson as prime minister and the Queen as queen, and we finished it with two different players.
“In modern times, we’ve never had both a head of government and head of state changing. It will be a novelty… and a very significant marker for the kind of country we are.”