A Scottish curry house may seem a world away from Windsor Castle, but it’s home to some of the Queen’s biggest supporters.
“I’ve met the Queen four times, and I just think she’s a very inspiring and energetic woman,” says Matin Khan in the dining room of his restaurant Dalkeith.
Matin moved to the UK as a young boy from Bangladesh during the early years of the Queen’s reign and now he and his family run several restaurants in Scotland.
The venue is adorned with numerous certificates of culinary awards, but a photo of Matin meeting the Queen in 2015 is also in the spotlight.
“He’s someone to respect, someone to look up to as a country,” said Matin’s 26-year-old son Habibur.
The royal family may represent old-world Britain, but Matin’s restaurant is a picture of modern life in the UK – and it holds lessons for the survival of the monarchy.
Local Scots of all ages take their places for dinner service, ready for their favorite curries, spiced meats, breads and chutneys.
Britain has changed enormously during Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign. It is now home to an additional 17 million people and is much more culturally diverse.
Attitudes towards many social issues – including the monarchy – have changed.
“We have very different attitudes now than we had back then, especially on the role of women, gay rights and also attitudes towards diversity,” said Steve Ballinger, of the British Future think tank, at the ABC.
But changing societal opinions may spell trouble for the Royal Family as support slips in parts of the UK.
“The question arises whether the Royal Family is keeping pace with modern Britain,” Mr Ballinger said.
“Overall, in Britain, six out of 10 people support the monarchy … but there is much less appeal among young people, Scots and among ethnic minorities as well.”
Only 45% of Scots support the monarchy, around 40% of young people and 37% of ethnic minorities, according to a study by British Future’s Jubilee Britain report.
It’s similar to the UK government’s poll released this week, which found just 33% of 18-24 year olds in Britain thought the monarchy should continue – up from 59% in 2011.
Edinburgh student Sabrina Mamode-Ally has strong views on the royal family that seem to line up with many people her age.
“Oh they can go…I just don’t really understand what they’re doing,” the 19-year-old said.
Could the queen’s kingdom collapse?
Great Britain is in the middle of a four-day national holiday for the Queen’s historic 70-year reign, marked by pomp, pageantry and major public events.
Tens of thousands of people flocked to central London to watch the Trooping the Color parade and catch a glimpse of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
“The Jubilee provides an opportunity for the monarchy to really unite the country and bring us together,” Ballinger said.
Edinburgh resident Eileen Maclaren is not in favor of Scotland breaking away from the UK, but can understand why her country would want to break free from the monarchy.
“A lot of people in Scotland think we should be independent, I’m not one of them, but I can see how less interested this country is [in the royals],” she says.
“[The Jubilee] it’s not really the kind of thing I like to watch, I have a lot of time for the queen but I’m not so sure about the rest of the family.”
Jubilee against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis
British government polls show the Queen enjoying incredibly high popularity during the Jubilee, but the heirs to her throne will need to convince and unite an ever-changing and conflicted country.
The Khan family have been excited about the Jubilee weekend and welcoming people into the restaurant for the occasion – but their minds are on other things.
Like many others in Britain, they are feeling the pinch of the rising cost of living and the challenges posed by the pandemic and Brexit.
“It’s hard to find staff and bring in materials, we don’t know how to plan for the future just because every day a new cost comes, a new item goes up in price,” says Habibur Khan.
His father Matin agrees.
“We used to have a busy restaurant, but now it’s not even breaking even because of energy, food and gas prices, which have almost doubled in three months,” says Matin.
But the Khan family knows how to bring people together – by mixing tradition – and taste.
They worked with a British company to develop a special Madras flavored crisp.
“Paprika, chilli, ginger, garlic, it’s not too spicy, it’s hot, it’s different,” says Mr Khan.
“But it combines the best of Bangladesh and Britain.”
The royal family must unify the nation and represent all parts of society if it is to survive, Mr Ballinger said.
“[The royals] have very strong support among older white people in the south of England, but if they want to be a bridge monarchy that brings in the whole of the UK, well, there’s still a bit of work to do,” says -he.
“We don’t have a crystal ball, it’s really difficult to project yourself into the future.
“But we know the Royal Family has an opportunity to bring us together with these big, important events.”
Mr Khan hopes he can still meet another member of the royal family and have a gift for them.
“If I meet the Queen a fifth time, I’ll give her one of our Madras crisps,” he said with a smile.
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