Royal toast

Donald Morrison takes a look at alternative approaches to the royal wedding

April 16, 2011
5 min read

Determined to prove that republicans aren’t meekly hiding away for the occasion, Republic, the UK’s largest lobby group for the abolition of the monarchy, is to hold a counter-celebration on royal wedding day in support of people power and democracy.

Not content to fly the republican flag on its own patch, it will also host a gathering of co‑thinkers from all the large European monarchies (Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Sweden), united in a common drive to rid the continent of their feudal arrangements. If this response to the ‘happy day’ seems a little sober, the ‘Love Republic’ event with DJs and live bands shows that republicans can party with the best of them – albeit without the royalist overtones.

Music can be a powerful medium to convey the anti-monarchist message, but with John Lydon’s disappointingly sycophantic comments in the Sun about the wedding couple, it is clear that a genuine punk antidote is needed. Filling the gap is someone whose politics are a world away from those who, like Republic, want to replace the Queen with a democratically elected head of state. Anarchist, musician and writer Ian Bone – once labelled ‘Britain’s most dangerous man’ by the tabloids – will be making his sentiments loud and clear by releasing a remix of his ‘Better Dead than Wed’ CD on 5 April.

Originally released in 1986 to coincide with Andrew and Fergie’s wedding, he plans a new version with updated lyrics especially for Will and Kate. The song contains many catchy and colourful lyrics about the royals, including:

‘We’ve got a wedding present,

On this we’re very keen,

It’s built to last for frequent use,

It’s called a guillotine.’

Bone is well known for his direct militancy mixed with humour and was a founding member of various anarchist groups, such as Movement Against Monarchy (MAM), which was heavily involved with protests around the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. Gawain, a member of the London-based Whitechapel Anarchist Group, says that they will also be taking to the streets again: ‘We would love to see a return of MAM and have been in talks with other anarchist groups to try to revive the movement in time for the wedding day.’

Anti-royalists in Scotland and Wales also have alternative events planned. The Scottish Socialist Party plans a public rally on the day of the wedding with an array of speakers and musicians yet to be finalised. It also plans to relaunch the Declaration of Carlton Hill event in Edinburgh, which originally took place as an alternative republican celebration to the opening of the Scottish Parliament. The declaration calls for an independent socialist Scotland, free from the ‘hierarchical and anti-democratic institutions of the British state’.

In Wales, the nationalist cultural group Balchder Cymru (Pride of Wales) is planning an alternative five-day celebration called the ‘Escape the Wedding Camp’, at a campsite near Machynlleth in north Wales. It is also considering planning a march through the town on the day of the wedding.

Organiser Adam Phillips explains that this location was chosen as it was the seat of Owain Glyndw^r’s independent Welsh parliament: ‘We are giving people an opportunity to escape the razzle dazzle and media hype. Not everyone will be celebrating this wedding because the taxpayer is footing the bill during a time of recession and cutbacks.’

Indeed, many will be simply outraged by the massive public cost of the wedding, estimated at £20 million.

Then there is the matter of the guest list. Among the usual dignitaries and celebrities will be the monarchs of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, both of whom have brutally oppressed their own people as they bravely rally for democracy.

George Galloway, among others, has made his feelings clear: ‘The king of Bahrain presides over a dictatorship which cuts down demonstrators, including a two-year-old child. The king of Saudi Arabia rules over an outfit where people are executed on a Friday afternoon and women are not allowed to drive cars or go out without a male relative.

‘What do these despots have to do with a wedding in Britain at the taxpayers’ expense? If the monarchy wants to remain meaningful it has to relate to our society, not a fellowship of despotic kings.’

As the government takes the spending axe to public services, is it not time that we rid ourselves of the most wasteful, archaic and undemocratic institution of all? As Sue Townsend, author and republican campaigner, proposes: ‘Perhaps one day Britons will take a lead from the Egyptians and congregate in Trafalgar Square and march down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace – hopefully without a shot being fired or a taser being employed – to demand that the monarchy be abolished and sent to live among the people.’

The ‘Love Republic’ event takes place from 7:30pm on 29 April at Borough Bar, 10-18 London Bridge Street, London SE1. www.republic.org.uk

This article is part of our series on emerging political movements, made possible with the help of the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.

West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective

How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences

The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou

#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally

Event: Take Back Control Croydon
Ken Loach, Dawn Foster & Soweto Kinch to speak in Croydon at the first event of a UK-wide series organised by The World Transformed and local activists

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change

Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself

#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces

Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'

Confronting Brexit
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond

On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network

Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter

#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement

Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.

Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees

Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides

The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari

Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next

Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace

Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill

Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility

Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports

From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices

How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed

In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design

Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform

Who owns our land?
Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out


21