The anti-monarchists went through a gentle process after the Queen’s death, but their aim remained

LONDON – When Queen Elizabeth II died on Thursday, Britain’s most prominent anti-monarchy movement did what it had planned for years after her death: It stayed low.

Republic, a group founded in 1983 that campaigned for an elected head of state and wanted the monarchy to be abolished, instead issued a brief statement of condolences to the royal family acknowledging right to grieve and pledge to avoid further comment on the immediate future.

Normal business is then expected to resume on Saturday, when the Republic criticized King Charles III’s official accession to the throne as undemocratic, while still expressing “all sympathy for King Charles”. ‘ when he mourned his mother.

“It’s just a reasonable thing to do,” said Graham Smith, chief executive officer of Republic. “Let all of this take its course, and we’ll get into the more serious stuff later.”

This is the cautious line that Britain’s leading anti-monarchists, known as republicans, believe must enter the early days of a new dynasty – balancing long-term opportunity with short-term pitfalls.

Polls show Britons are less enamored with Charles than they are with his mother, giving Republican campaigners the biggest chance they’ve had to build momentum in a quarter of a century. But they are wary of alienating potential supporters by appearing unmoved by their grief for the queen.

Great Britain or the country that dominates it, England, has been ruled by a hereditary monarchy for more than nine centuries, experiencing a brief period of republican rule in the 1600s. .

While monarchs gradually ceded governance to Parliament over the centuries, it still ruled in the name of the monarch and the king or queen still played an important if almost entirely symbolic role. role in important British functions: the transition from one government to another, the administration of the Church of England, and the judicial system.

Republican campaigners want to change all of that — by replacing a hereditary king or queen with an elected president.

Since the short-lived English republic in 1660, the concept has rarely garnered significant public support, but it has had its moments. Thomas Paine, the anti-monarchy philosopher whose writings helped build the intellectual foundation of the American Revolution, was born in England and wrote at least one of his major works there.

More recently, in 1991, Tony Benn, a prominent leftist lawmaker, tried to get Congress to vote to abolish the monarchy. In 2000, The Guardian led a campaign to create a republic, hoping to spur public debate.

Both attempts failed. And for years campaigners have known that the joining of King Charles – who is clumsy and tougher than his mother, and less popular – would represent the best chance to garner support for the cause. their politics.

The May poll showed Charles’ national approval rate standing at 65 percent, 21 points lower than the queen’s.

David Edgerton, a 20th-century British historian, said: “Charles was not famous, not charismatic or powerful like Elizabeth.

Right now, most UK Republicans are paying the price for their time.

One protester interrupted a statement on Sunday in Oxford about the king’s ascension to the throne, leading to his arrest, while another was arrested in Edinburgh in a separate incident. But on the other hand, the republicans have mostly left the streets to the thousands of mourners and the wise.

The Greens, one of the few British political parties to include opposition to the political role of the monarchy in its manifesto, called the queen’s death “a moment of great sorrow for the nation”. our family”, avoiding any criticism.

Opponents of the monarchy with less diplomatic views – such as criticizing the public for falling victim to grouping ideology – have been called out by other Republicans for alienating allies. . A columnist on Spiked, a libertarian online magazine that opposes the monarchy but often publishes photographs of what it often considers the “waking left.”

However, some see an opportunity when the queen is buried and public focus shifts to Charles.

“We’ll be campaigning pretty hard from the funeral to the coronation shortly,” said Mr. Smith, the head of the Republican Party. The queen is a “heat shield that deflects a lot of criticism, and you don’t get that to Charles,” he said.

Mr Smith added: “This is going to be a much easier campaign to run.

Although the queen is often seen as a model of personal virtue, Charles’ judgment and decency have been the subject of perpetual scrutiny from his time as a young prince, even up to a few months ago.

Among other controversies, police announced an investigation in February into allegations that one of Charles’ charities offered to help secure chivalry and citizenship to an Arab businessman. Saudi Arabia, in exchange for a large donation. A spokesman for Charles said the royal family was unaware of any deals and a top aide had resigned under pressure over the transaction.

Charles is also remembered for his bad divorce in the 1990s from his first wife, Diana, in which the media often portrayed him as cold and aloof. The public has largely moved on, as has Charles with his second marriage to Camilla, now queen, but the impression the split creates has not completely dissipated.

Republicanism is also on the rise among young Britons. An estimated 41 per cent of Britons aged 18 to 25 said they would like an elected head of state, according to poll results from 2021 – 15 points higher than in 2019.

Demand for a republic has remained fairly steady for decades – the most recent poll shows that nearly 70% of Britons support a monarchy, as it was in the early 1990s.

But some commentators and historians believe that public support for the monarchy was based less on strong belief in the institution than on affection for the queen – giving republicans a ray of hope that they can make their point.

Much of the current grief for the queen “is a reflection of her exceptional contributions to the nation and the permanence of her reign,” said historian Professor Edgerton. “It is not a reaffirmation of the essence of the hereditary principle or the aristocratic principle – or even, in fact, the concept of a constitutional monarchy.”

Laura Clancy, who studies the public image of the royal family at Lancaster University, said part of the queen’s appeal was due to her unclear beliefs.

The Queen reveals very little about her personal opinions, creating a mysterious aura about her core beliefs, allowing others to project into her whatever point of view they hope she can. hold. Before and after Britain left the European Union, the queen’s incomprehension allowed both Brexit supporters and critics to claim her as their own.

“You can’t do that to Charles,” Dr. Clancy said. “Because we know what he thinks about a lot of things.”

Charles’ views on architecture, aesthetics, and the environment are widely reported. Some see him as an interventionist, famous for sending handwritten messages to government ministers on political matters – messages known as “black spider” letters because of his squiggly handwriting. mess and black ink of the pen.

But even as Charles’s entry provides an opportunity for republicans to build a different narrative about the monarchy, commentators and campaigners say any success will slow.

The ruling Conservative Party strongly supports the monarchy. The Labor Party, the largest opposition group, is comprised of prominent Republicans, but an elected head of state is not a party priority, let alone official policy. Under Keir Starmer, the current Labor leader, the party has sought to build a reputation for sobriety and respect for tradition – an effort that will be undermined by pushing for major constitutional change.

Dr. Clancy said. Instead, Charles’s entry provides the opportunity for a slight change in discourse.

“Talking about Republicanism in the UK is actually quite taboo,” says Dr. Clancy. “Will there come a time when it becomes less taboo? That’s what I feel is coming.”

Source link


News5s: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button