"It begs the question: what have they got to hide? Help us find out."
Graham Smith, Republic's CEO
Millions of secrets
Did you know the royals are more secretive than the CIA or MI5? That’s according to historians who have tried to uncover secrets held in the royal archives.
Millions of official papers, including letters to and from prime ministers and international figures, are locked away in Windsor Castle. Why? Because they’re documents held by the royal family, and instead of being transferred to the National Archive they have been retained by the royals and put in the Royal Archive.
That means the official record of Britain’s head of state – evidence of exactly what’s been going on behind closed doors for decades – is kept a closely guarded secret.
£8,000 to reveal the royal’s secrets
We want to step up Republic’s Royal Secrets campaign, by challenging the rules surrounding the royal archives. Our demand is simple: treat official documents of our head of state the same as those of the prime minister.
The Royal Archive, created in 1914, is treated by the royals as private and personal. Unlike the National Archive in Kew it is not subject to official regulations that allow widespread disclosure. Yet these are the official records of Britain's head of state.
There is no systematic releasing of letters and documents under the 30 year rule, no access under Freedom of Information laws – there isn’t even a publicly accessible catalogue of the material the archive holds. None of the standards and rules applied to government documents are applied to the records of the Queen, her predecessors or her family. The history of the monarchy is hidden away from public gaze.
Not just hidden, but often destroyed. So determined the royals are to hide their secrets the King sent a courtier to Germany in 1945 to retrieve letters from the archives of relatives there. Credible reports suggest that the royals have since destroyed thousands of documents from the 1930s and 40s.
Your donation will pay for…
- An investigations team to look at what questions remain unanswered, what secrets might be uncovered and the legal basis for the current arrangements and proposed reforms.
- Building alliances with interested parties, including academics and other campaign groups.
- Lobbying of MPs and ministers to change the law and introduce the reforms we’re calling for.
- Building a dedicated website to facilitate collaboration, the gathering and publication of information and to educate the public and media about the issues.
- Producing a full report on the Royal Archives, which will be sent to all MPs and the media, and made available to the public.
These are official state papers, held privately and secretly by the royal household. Only ‘approved scholars’ are granted limited access and publication of material is allowed ‘where appropriate’. Royal officials decide what ‘appropriate’ means.
It is censorship on a grand scale.
The Royal Secrets campaign has already made a difference – but we need to do more. We have had the issue raised in parliament, in relation to freedom of information rules. We’ve published a report that was sent to every MP. And we got front-page headlines for exposing Prince Charles’s secret access to all government papers.
Royal archives: our objective
It’s simple. We want to:
- Raise awareness of the extent of official secrecy and the questions that remain unanswered as a result of lack of access to the archives
- Achieve wholesale reform of the Royal Archives, to bring them into line with the National Archives.
Our demands are clear:
- A catalogue of Royal Archive material should be made immediately available to the public.
- Management and control of the Royal Archive should be handed entirely to the National Archive.
- The material held in the Royal Archive should be subject to the same rules for disclosure as any other official documents.
- The National Archive, rather than the Queen or her officials, should determine what material, if any, is strictly personal and private and hand it back to the royal household.
- The National Archive should establish a programme of systematically reviewing and releasing all material that is more than 30 years old.
- All material that is less than 30 years old should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
- Personal embarrassment to living people should not be accepted as a reason for non-disclosure, where the material is politically relevant and disclosure is in the public interest.
- All official material and records currently held by the Royal Household should be subjected to the same rules for archiving as any other official records held by the government and its agencies.
Your donation will mean Republic can step up the secrets campaign.
A new report and a dedicated website
With your support Republic will produce a new Royal Archives report – and you can get a copy by donating £35 or more. The report – planned to be launched in 2018 – will be sent to all MPs, and will set out clearly the issues and Republic’s demands for change.
By the end of this year Republic will launch – with your donation – a new website, dedicated to the issue of royal archives. The site will be a platform for raising awareness of the issues, the demands and continuing investigations into the secrets hidden in the archives.
There's more you can do!
Yes, we want you to donate. But there's more you can do:
- Be a volunteer, investigating the archives and submitting information requests
- Tell friends and family about the appeal
- Get involved locally - find out more at www.republic.org.uk/local
- Make sure you're a member, so you can continue to support Republic's work
- Write to your MP, tell them about the Royal Archives
Republic is already working hard to raise this issue with MPs, the government and in the media - with lots of help from our members and supporters.
Your donation will help pay for that work and keep this campaign going strong. Any funds raised over the target will be invested in the royal secrets and wider campaign work.
You don’t need PayPal to pay.
You’ll be taken to the PayPal page to make your donation – but you don’t need a PayPal account. Just select the 'Pay with a debit or credit card' link to pay with your debit or credit card.