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CNN One Thing

You’ve been overwhelmed with headlines all week – what's worth a closer look? One Thing takes you into the story and helps you make sense of the news everyone's been talking about. Each Sunday, host David Rind interviews one of CNN’s world-class reporters to tell us what they've found – and why it matters. From the team behind CNN 5 Things.

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What Queen Elizabeth's Death Means for the Modern Monarchy
CNN One Thing
Sep 11, 2022

Queen Elizabeth II died last week at the age of 96, after ruling the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth for 70 years. We examine her life and legacy, what we can expect from King Charles III and how the monarchy moves forward amid criticisms of its colonial past.

Guest: Christiane Amanpour, CNN Chief International Anchor 

Episode Transcript
Anna Ferris
00:00:02
It doesn't feel sort of real, actually, does it? We said he's just surreal. It feels like, you know, it's going to happen. But when it does, it still doesn't make it sort of any easier. I guess.
Claire Bartlett
00:00:16
Feel like you've lost a family member. She's been there our whole lives. Yeah.
David Rind (Host)
00:00:21
It's an odd thing when someone really famous dies. If you were a fan, you may feel like you knew them after spending so much time consuming their work and observing them from afar. But of course you didn't really know them. It's not like someone would say "sorry for your loss" after your favorite movie star passed away.
Max Foster (Reporter)
00:00:39
The Queen has died very sadly. She died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.
David Rind (Host)
00:00:46
But yet when we got word last Thursday afternoon that Queen Elizabeth, the second, had died at the age of 96, it seemed like much of the world was saying "sorry for your loss", but to an entire population, that's how much the Queen meant to the people of the United Kingdom after 70 years on the throne.
Anna Stewart
00:01:06
Do you think the royal family will ever feel the same?
Claire Bartlett
00:01:10
No, I think that the family that are left, we just don't know them as much as I feel like I knew the queen. Obviously I never met her, but she still felt like a family member almost, didn't she, though? And they're big shoes to fill.
David Rind (Host)
00:01:27
But the monarchy itself and the history it represents is not universally beloved. Now that Elizabeth is gone, her son Charles takes over as king, and he'll have to lead a royal family, along with a nation that is very much in transition. Today, we're going to do something a little different. CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour has been covering the royal family and their relationships with world leaders for decades. So I'm going to let her take things from here, so she can share her reflections on the queen's life and legacy. What we can expect from King Charles, the third, and where the U.K. goes from here. From CNN. This is One Thing. I'm David Rind.
Christiane Amanpour (CNN Chief International Correspondent)
00:02:14
Let's just situate ourselves is the day after the queen's death. Her son, now King Charles, the third, has entered Buckingham Palace. We're all outside, all the world's press. It's raining. There are helicopters overhead, and we're all here trying to observe this monumental passing of an era.
Christiane Amanpour (CNN Chief International Correspondent)
00:02:38
So how did the queen become. Queen in the first place? Well, it was an accident, really, because it was her own uncle, King Edward the Eighth, who abdicated in the thirties because he was in love with an American woman and she was a divorcee, and he chose the woman he loved over the crown. But that propelled his brother, who became King George the sixth into the monarchy, right in the middle of the war, right as fascism and Nazism was threatening Great Britain and the whole continent of Europe. And it was then King George, the six, who took up this burden of duty.
Queen Elizabeth II
00:03:16
I declare before you all but my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to the service of our great imperial family, to which we all belong.
Christiane Amanpour (CNN Chief International Correspondent)
00:03:31
And, you know, it's a reason why Queen Elizabeth was always so dutiful and diligent. A, she would never shirk her duty as she believed. King Edward the eighth had by abdicating. And B, she saw her own father's example. He was a shy man. He was an introvert. He had a speech impediment. He really had to learn how to be an outward facing king at a moment when this country and the world needed that kind of moral support and obviously that kind of military and political support that in the end faced down the Nazis. So that's how she became first princess and then queen, and she became queen at a very, very young age around 26.
Queen Elizabeth II
00:04:13
I am sure that this my coronation is not the symbol of a power and a splendor that are gone, but a declaration of our hopes for the future and for the years, that I may by God's grace and mercy be given to reign and serve you as your Queen.
Christiane Amanpour (CNN Chief International Correspondent)
00:04:42
This was 70 years ago when she assumed the throne way before any of us were born. She saw so much history. As I was reminded Stalin was in power in the Soviet Union when she came to the crown, to the throne here in the United Kingdom. Her coronation in 1953 marked the very first time there was live television, that this was the beginning of the modern television era. And so the whole world, really, with her ascension to the British throne, became intricately involved in the monarchy, which I guess explains why she has held such a fascination. It's beyond celebrity, but it is celebrity because this is when our modern media revolution. With the advent of television and live television, captured this new queen and this new era. And as I talk again. We're sitting here in the pouring rain. You might be able to hear the raindrops patter on an umbrella. But I would say, in the words of Brian Britton, keep calm and carry on. And that was her legacy.
Christiane Amanpour (CNN Chief International Correspondent)
00:05:47
Throughout so many tumultuous decades, frankly. She kept calm and she carried on.
Anchor
00:05:55
We are just getting word that the French government has informed all of us that Princess Diana has died.
Queen Elizabeth II
00:06:03
I share in your determination to cherish her memory.
Christiane Amanpour (CNN Chief International Correspondent)
00:06:07
Despite the crises within her own family, despite the crises. And the upheaval on the world stage.
Max Foster (Reporter)
00:06:12
Queen Elizabeth addressing her country and commonwealth in April 2020 during the first wave of coronavirus infections.
Queen Elizabeth II
00:06:21
Better days will return. We will be with. Our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again.
Christiane Amanpour (CNN Chief International Correspondent)
00:06:30
She was. The rock on which this country rested during a very, very, you know, profound time of upheaval.
Christiane Amanpour (CNN Chief International Correspondent)
00:06:41
This nation has been really fortunate to have had at least three phenomenal change agents who were women. Era defining women. Queen Elizabeth the first who was the daughter of King Henry the eighth. She presided over what became known as the Golden Age in this nation. And it was incredible the amount of progress, the amount of culture, the amount of the cementing of British influence on the world stage. Under Queen Elizabeth, the first. Then fast forward a couple of centuries and you have Queen Victoria. The Victorian era, which coincided with the Industrial revolution, coincided with immense amount of building and planning and obviously industry that created this powerhouse that Britain became always punching above its weight. And it had the opportunity to do that because under Queen Victoria, the Empire was accumulated. Now we can discuss the empire, we can debate how history has come to view the idea of colonialism and that kind of paternalistic system. But that was what it was hundreds of years ago, and Britain was incredibly good at it. Of course, today they would be accused of having not just dominated the world, but of plundering its wealth as well for the betterment of of Great Britain and the United Kingdom. But the pictures of Queen Elizabeth, the first whose, you know, African counterparts were part of the empire when she became queen. You know, dancing with the presidents of Zambia and Ghana and being really involved in in how then those countries became independent was also a major issue for her in terms of how she also oversaw progress in that regard on the world stage.
David Rind (Host)
00:08:38
More from Christiane in just a bit. Hey, we're back. Here's Christiane again.
Unidentified
00:08:54
I think it would be incredible to have a man in charge. Now, of course, before the queen. It was dur rigor that we had kings. It was God Save the King for a long, long time. So how will it change to have a man on the world stage? Well, first and foremost, you know, things right down to the currency, right down to the stamps, right down to the what we call the postboxes where we put our letters In these red emblematic pillar boxes, which are all stamped with E2R. I.e., Elizabeth, the second Regina Queen. It all has to change now to Charles, the third King Rex, and is going to be incredibly interesting. Not to mention, of course, the famous anthem, "God Save the Queen" will be "God Save the King".
King Charles III
00:09:39
I pay tribute to my mother's memory and I honor her life of service.
Christiane Amanpour (CNN Chief International Correspondent)
00:09:46
Prince and now King Charles have had a really interesting and very different impact. And it's obviously a different generation, even though he's 70 plus years old and he's been preparing for this for decades,.
King Charles III
00:09:57
As he Queen herself did, with such unswerving devotion. I, too, now solemnly pledge myself throughout the remaining time God Grants me, to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation.
Christiane Amanpour (CNN Chief International Correspondent)
00:10:15
And it's very interesting how he was mocked during his adolescence, during his young adulthood, and now in all these decades of being Prince of Wales, king in waiting, he grabbed the issues that are front and center right now that certainly young people really care about.
King Charles III
00:10:32
Do we want to go down in history as the people who did nothing to bring the world back from the brink in time to restore the balance when we could have done? I don't want to.
Christiane Amanpour (CNN Chief International Correspondent)
00:10:45
For instance, climate. He was the first really in this country to talk about organic, to talk about recycling, to talk about having to preserve this planet, preserve this natural world for future generations. And he was able to talk about that as prince. It'll be interesting to see how much he's able to talk about it under the new parameters of him being a constitutional monarch, which forbids him from engaging in any politics. Although this isn't politics, climate is an existential threat and existential reality. But nonetheless, it'll be interesting to see how he is able to continue these conversations. But just to say he has, in his period of monarch in waiting, bonded with the people of this country by taking up issues such as that and indeed urban planning and the idea of poverty and inter-faith and and all of those issues, including, you know, tolerance and wanting to welcome a lot more diverse people into this country. The Prince's Trust, his foundation, has worked very, very strongly on all these issues. So he is in time and in step with current concerns of the people of this country.
Scott Mclean (reporter)
00:11:57
You're not the biggest fan of the monarchy, I wonder why?
Interviewee
00:12:01
Mainly to do with like British, like colonial history, things like that. A lot of things that have gone on which have been quite shady, even like recently with like Prince Andrew and everything.
Christiane Amanpour (CNN Chief International Correspondent)
00:12:11
Everybody around the world in America, here in the former colonies, now the Commonwealth will be asking, so do we still need a monarchy? Must we still be ruled by what we believe is an anachronistic constitutional monarchy in 2022 and beyond? You know, it's going to be up to the people of those countries. It's going to be up to them. Right now, there is not an overwhelming majority of people, certainly not in the in this country, but also around the world who are clamoring to abolish the monarchy. Yes, there are questions on the periphery. And really, I guess it's up to Prince Charles. He will have to be able to demonstrate that the monarchy is worth its bread and butter, that it that it pays for its way, that it is value added, and that it can still exist as a relevant institution. I do think one thing for sure that is the Queen has set a very high bar and it will be difficult for anybody to be compared to her. But the monarchy is brand britain is why people in America come to this country. It's why people from all over the world come to visit. Tourism is huge here and is based almost entirely around the monarchy and all the satellite issues that it touches. This monarchy is still relevant. Look at the cultural impact has had just in the last few years. You've had The Crown, the incredibly successful Netflix multi-season series that continues about this queen and her family. You've had films such as The Queen. You've had plays such as The Audience, all about the Queen and her activities and her family and her audiences with prime ministers. They are still a source of fascination and they probably will continue to be, at least in the short to medium term.
David Rind (Host)
00:14:10
One thing is a production of CNN audio. This episode was produced by Paola Ortiz and May David Rind. It was mixed by Matt Dempsey. Greg Peppers is our supervising producer, Faiz Jamil is our senior producer and the executive producer of CNN Audio is Megan Marcus. Special thanks this week to Maddie Araújo. And thanks as always for listening. We'll be back next Sunday. I'll talk to you then.