British Republicanism : A new frontier?

 In my mind, the label “republican” used to carry certain connotations. I’m referring to the  red-hat-wearing, gun-toting, fiscally conservative type that is often associated with the term republican. And, to some extent, these kinds of views could be associated with the Republican party of the US. 

But, here in Great Britain, the term republican carries a very different meaning. Here in Britain, Republicans are people who want to replace the monarchy with an elected head of state. The royals have been in the news a lot recently, which has been making me think more regularly about the point of them. 

Because, let’s be realistic, what is the point of them? 

Of course, there are the official statements as listed on the royal website  – they perform state duties, they provide stability and a sense of nationality to the nation, blah blah blah. An elected head of state could also perform state duties, and under royal rule, Britain doesn’t seem to be thriving with a sense of stability or nationality. 

The thing that really grinds my gears about the monarchy is the fact that If I were to meet the King or Queen (seems unlikely but you never know), then I would be aware of the fact that they are, for all intents and purposes, better than me. Better than me in a hierarchical sense, at least. And, because of that, I would have to defer to them. At least other figures who you have to respect because of their position in society (ie, the prime minister) have made some effort to earn it (a dubious statement but nevertheless). 

 I am 90% sure that I could outrun the King and Queen, or even Prince William. Realistically, I’m probably faster than them. And I reckon I could beat them at trivia; my A-levels were better than King Charles who got a B and a C in History and French. And, the King is only an inch taller than me, so there’s something else he’s not really excelling at. Yet, despite all of these valid concerns, he rules our nation, challenging our democratic principles by his very position. 

And that’s just to name my personal, exceptionally petty, concerns. The British republican movement has been making some pretty strong arguments, outlining the key problems with the monarchy as an institution; their secrecy, their corruption, the unnecessary pomp (paid for by taxpayers). It all adds up to one key message: why do we still have them? 

It’s easy to picture the average monarchist student reading this, angrily whispering about the economy and tourism industry under their breath. But, contrary to popular belief, the monarchy is not the founding pillar of the British tourism industry that it is often made out to be. Republic, the leading anti-monarchy group, dispute the VisitBritain claim that the royals bring in £500 million a year. And even if the monarchy did bring in £500 million a year, this would be minor in terms of the actual revenue that the tourism industry brings in. 

If that’s not convincing enough for you, in 2022, VisitBritain’s list of the top 20 visited paid attractions in England only had a current royal attraction – Windsor Castle – at number 11. It was trumped by attractions like the London Zoo, Colchester zoo, Southend adventure park and Westminster Abbey, to name a few. It seems like the number one argument for the royals frequently comes down to tourism, and even that doesn’t hold up. 

 I’m fairly certain that my position on this topic is coming across clearly but just in case it isn’t: the monarchy is out, republicanism is in. 



Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash 

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