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Heavy is the head that wears the Crown

King Charles III and the rise of UK Republicanism

It wouldn't be an outlandish claim to state that most people in the UK strongly uphold democratic values and recognise the importance of democracy in creating a just and prosperous society.

Amidst the flags waving, horses prancing, guardsmen marching, carriages rolling, trumpets sounding and the King waving to crowds during the Coronation, how many stopped and thought about what exactly it was that they were celebrating?

On May 6, 2023, Charles, Prince of Wales, was crowned King Charles III of the United Kingdom. The coronation cost British taxpayers an estimated £100 million and was full of the regalia, pomp and ceremony unique to Britain and its royal lineage.

For many people, the coronation was a reminder of the outdated and undemocratic nature of the monarchy and the disparity between the King's wealth and his subject's poverty.

UK Republicans argue that the legal structure of power behind Britain's Royal Family makes it an undemocratic institution. The monarch is not elected by the people, nor can voters have a say in who becomes king or queen. This is a fundamental violation of the principle of democracy which holds that the people should have the power to choose their own leaders. Moreover, elected officials swear allegiance to their oath of office and those they serve whereas King Charles, in the same form as his ancestors, expected the public to swear an allegiance to him.

"I, [name], do hereby swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles III, his heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God."

But perhaps subjects were getting off lightly as Prince William knelt and declared before the King: “I, William, Prince of Wales, pledge my loyalty to you and faith and truth I will bear unto you, as your liege man of life and limb. So help me God.

Whilst political stability, the weight of history and tradition are the fall-back arguments for Royalists, it is decidedly un-British that unfairness abounds and rules are amended for a select few to benefit without question or opportunity to redress imbalance.

In short, Republicans argues that the monarchy is a symbol of inequality.

The royal family is one of the wealthiest in the world and live an extremely privileged lifestyle as a reward for their public services - and they are funded by taxpayers to an estimated value of £350 million per annum. With many in the UK struggling to make ends meet, the inequality is starkly evident.

So is the monarchy a relic of the past? Is it an institution that is based on outdated ideas of power and privilege? Some believe that In the 21st century that the UK should be looking to the future, not the past, and they deserve a head of state who is elected by a majority - as a democratic system demands.

UK republicanism or reform of the monarchy is not a policy of any of the leading political parties in the United Kingdom with the ruling Conservative Party, the opposition made up of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats all supporting the monarchy in its existing form.

A 2022 poll found that 62% of Britons support the monarchy, while 33% support a republic. This suggests that there is no strong public appetite for a change in the UK's constitutional arrangements.

What could a rogue do to the Monarchy in Brexit-style?

UK Republican advocates believe that it is possible for a one-policy political movement to bring about a change to the monarchy in Britain, however it would require a significant shift in public opinion and the support of a major political party.

The Brexit movement was able to succeed because it tapped into a deep vein of public dissatisfaction with the European Union and it was able to mobilize a large number of people who felt that the EU was undemocratic and that it was harming the UK's economy.

A similar movement could be successful in bringing about a change to the monarchy but it would need to focus on the specific reasons why people are unhappy with the monarchy and why an alternative is favourable.

Pic credits: Twitter screen grabs

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