Republicans prepare for riverbank jubilee protest

Republic's Graham Smith makes the case for joining the dissenters during this Sunday's pomp and circumstance
1 June 2012

This Sunday – while a long line of boats floats downstream along the Thames to mark the Queen’s sixty years on the throne – hundreds of republicans will be protesting against the monarchy on the river bank. Republic’s jubilee protest will be the biggest and most vocal expression of anti-monarchy and republican dissent there has been in modern times.

Armchair republicans meanwhile have been out and about in the media telling us that the best strategy would be to do nothing – a strategy that for the past 30 years has left the movement lagging well behind other progressive and democratic causes. To do nothing, to buy into the ‘we all love the Queen’ royalist-Britain narrative, is a failure of imagination and ambition that has to stop.

For years republicanism has been treated by many in politics and the media as nothing more than an intellectual exercise for the educated elite.  The ‘chattering classes’ like to wear the republican badge – it gives them a warm sense of satisfaction about their rationality – but they have refused to take up the challenge of turning the cause into a serious movement. On the weekend, Roy Hattersley criticised Republic’s campaign as ‘silly’ and ‘trivialising’ the issue  – a response absolutely typical of the previous generation of republicans who have spectacularly failed the cause. In the Guardian, Tom Clark was recently suggesting that ‘shrewd’ republicans would simply sit back and do nothing until the Queen dies. This is a passive – and rather morbid – approach that a new generation of republicans are completely rejecting. There is nothing shrewd about do-nothing campaigning.

The monarchy is a political institution and it survives for political and cynical reasons. It’s not going to fade away, and a passive ‘wait for Charles’ approach is a recipe of failure. The palace and the government do all they can to promote and shore up the monarchy – it serves the interests of the Windsors of course, but with the Crown giving so much power to the government it also serves the interests of the politicians. This is a politicians’ monarchy, cynically dressed up in Edwardian pomp to distract attention from a very shabby political operation.  The only way it will be disposed of is by republicans taking the fight to the palace and to parliament, winning over public support in the long term and demanding the politicians follow.

Republic represents a new and dynamic republicanism – one that doesn’t accept the monarchist narrative and which is determined to challenge the spin, hype and hyperbole of the royalists. We also do not accept the defeatism of some republicans – such as Peter Wilby, who, the other day, was suggesting protest was pointless and that we ought instead to aim for a scaled down monarchy.

This is why, on Sunday, Republic will be staging the biggest republican protest in living memory right on the banks of the river Thames. It is our intention to make a very clear, vocal and visible statement about our cause and to challenge people to think again about what they’re being asked to celebrate. The jubilee is not just a celebration of one woman’s time in office, it is a celebration of monarchy itself and the hereditary principle. Yet the Queen is just an ordinary woman who at the age of 25 was given a job for life and who has kept that job for life for over 60 years – while allowing all those around her to cynically manipulate our media and politicians in a concerted effort to protect her and her institution from scrutiny or challenge. It is not an achievement to keep such a job for 60 years – it’s just a matter of mathematics.

Republicans have a powerful and positive message about democratic values and a more imaginative and inspiring form of politics. We must make the case for change and take up the challenge to persuade a majority that the case is one deserving their support.

At the same time we must challenge the public to think again about the monarchy, to reject the lazy clichés – and we must challenge the palace head on. Monarchy is not as popular as Tom Clark suggested in his earlier article – 69% prefer the status quo, that’s not the same as saying 69% love the monarchy. Widespread opposition to the taxpayer buying a new boat for the Queen and a clear majority objecting even to changing the name of the Big Ben tower to Elizabeth Tower are just two recent indicators of a much more ambivalent public attitude.

The monarchy’s popularity and survival aren’t the result of its inherent place in the fabric of Britain, but a result of a deliberate and concerted PR campaign from the palace and the complete failure of previous generations of republicans to take up the fight.

That fight is now on, and Sunday’s protest is just the start of a bigger and more robust republican campaign – one that will continue to grow, as it has done over the past eighteen months and which will succeed.

The Republic protest will take place on 3 June, at Tower Bridge between 12-5pm. For more information please visit  


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Ross Moore 2 June 2012, 08.37

A Poem for HRH’s Diamond Jubilee

So here’s another Jubilee
No relevance to you or me
The Royals life is luxury
While we are dealt austerity

And those who say ‘I couldn’t do
Her Job’ Well there is No Need To.
Opening fetes and visiting places
Populated by exotic races.
It’s why we have our politicians
Versed in all the worlds traditions
Not leaving it to Phil The Greek
With ethnological critique
All learn-ed in his past I stress
(One step removed from the SS)

So while the toffs are out a hunting
And you unwrap more fucking bunting
Defrost the Iceland chicken thighs,
Burgers,sausages and pies.

We’ll take a draft of some cheap fizz
And drink a toast to good queen Liz
Who at the palace entertains
Tyrant rulers from domains:

A Bahrain King with blooded hands,
A despot King of Swaziland,
A Thai Crown prince, a Saudi too
I’m sure they are good friends to you.

Your affluence could do much good
To give a starving child some food,
Clean water, hope and life and health
Not palaces and private wealth

So happy diamond jubilee
You have no relevance to me
Her majesty could do no worse
Than the fate of dear old Charles the First

BrightonBelle 3 June 2012, 08.24

I am an ordinary Wife, Mum, Sister and Daugher and I for one am proud to be British and will be hanging out the bunting today ….We are a democracy and therefore these people should be able to demonstate their views. However, in these times of austerity and recession it is wonderful to be celebrating not just the Jubilee, but showing the world that we are proud and loud to be BRITISH. These days we are mindful of not upsetting other cultures and tend to keep our Britishness to ourselves. We should keep the Royal family as they are being pivitol to the rich and varied history of the British Isles. These days the Queen (paid £7.9m from Civil list) is basically a public relations Ambassador, promoting the UK overseas, representing Britain on state visits and at ceremonial occasions, supporting charities and helping to generate the a huge amount of revenue brought into the UK through tourism. Tourists and students from around the world are inspired to visit Britain by a fascination with Royalty and Royal history. So for the approx £40 million per year we spend on the whole Royal Family, it in turn generates over £175 million to the UK treasury. In addition to this, the knock on effect is that restaurants, hotels, taxis, shops etc etc make a good living. Since 1993, the Queen also pays income tax, capital gains tax and VAT. Business executives like Mick Davis who heads XSTRATA and Bart Becht who last year retired from RECKITT BENCKISER both earned around 18 million each last year, so for what the Queen does i think she represents value for money. Also, much of what we think is owned by the Queen, is actually owned by the state e.g The Crown Jewels, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle. Although I believe in the Monarchy, i would like to see some of the minor Royals cut from the list as they should develop their own careers and be paid only when performing a Royal Duty. We should look to some other countries in the world to realise what we have to be proud of here in Britain. The majority of the people DO NOT want the UK to be a REPUBLIC and that is the reality. Most people will see this so called “LOUD & BOLD” demonstration more as a lot of PARTY POOPERS, rather than starting a debate on the future of the Monarchy. I for one say LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!!!!!!!

Anna 3 June 2012, 09.29

Well done brightonbelle. Get your figures right. Get a brain. And also get a dictionary and look up the words ‘democratic values’

Gloria Kay 3 June 2012, 14.29

Good for you brightonbelle. All those who want to live in a republic – whats keeping them? Let them live where they will be happy and live with their republican views, We have our history and heritage- if you don’t like it b—-r off.

Union Jock 3 June 2012, 15.23

What is irrational and superstitious is the notion that everybody should have equal rights. Why? It’s obvious that some people are morons, others are geniuses, and the morons cannot be expected to make serious judgements about who should rule them.

Why should breathing at the age of 18 be a qualification for choosing the government? It’s democracy, not kingship, that is the passing fad. The Queen reigns by the decree of Almighty God, the Sovereign of us all in whose image her office was created– not by the say-so of mere mortals. So down on your knees and give thanks, and chuck your idiot fantasies about democracy (literally, mob rule) out of the window, or prepare to burn eternally in Hell for your impiety.

God save Her Majesty!

RikTrik 3 June 2012, 19.50

To brightonbelle, you claim that the monarchy brings in tourism, you monarchist come out with the same old lines don’t you. There isn’t a shred of evidence that supports the tourism theory. In fact people are more likely to visit Legoland rather Windsor Castle. Source: “Visit Britain Poll”

You say: “We should keep the Royal family as they are being pivitol to the rich and varied history of the British Isles” … No they’re just pivotal to the rich!!!

And as for you Jock Strap or whatever your name is. Religious clap-trap aside, I find you to be one offensive TW@. It sounds to me like you want a dictatorship because you think people are too stupid to vote. You should be lynched for saying that. Just because you’re too stupid to vote and are quite happy to follow a monarch just because someone told you to, don’t expect everyone else to be so mindless!!!

Comments are now closed on this article.

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