Our cause isn’t just about the Queen, but it is about her too

9 February 2017

A couple of days ago, I told you about Republic’s broader vision for a revitalised democracy.  I said our cause isn’t just about the Queen.  And it isn’t.  But it is about her too, and the whole royal household.

If corruption is the abuse of public office for personal gain, how can we say the monarchy isn’t corrupt?  The royals demand public money for private travel, accommodation and security.  They demand levels of secrecy that would make the CIA blush.  They get legal protections and privileges written into our laws and expect full access to government papers and ministers.

When the Royal Household comes in for criticism – like when they received millions of pounds to fix Buckingham Palace late last year – people are quick to deflect that criticism away from the Queen.  Yet the Queen is head of Monarchy PLC.  She has been for 65 years.  She is responsible for the royals’ consistent failure to live up to even the most basic standards of public life.

When Prince Andrew vandalized property and escaped prosecution, that’s on the Queen.  When Prince Charles abuses his position as Duke of Cornwall to demand more cash from tenants, the Queen and Charles share the blame.  Royal pressure on ministers in Westminster and Holyrood for greater secrecy came with the Queen’s blessing.  As did demands from the palace for a new financial deal in the form of the Sovereign Grant.

So yes, our vision is so much bigger than bringing down the monarchy.  It’s about a radically revitalised democracy that simply has no place for hereditary privilege or unelected Lords. 

Yet we can’t lose sight of the fact that the monarchy should be brought down on its own terms – because it is not fit for purpose.  It is corrupt and secretive, it falls well short of the standards we should all expect of our national institutions.  Republic will continue to make the broader case for a parliamentary republic – and we’ll continue to challenge and expose the royals.

With your backing, we will be talking to ministers, MPs and journalists about royal secrecy over the next few weeks.  We’ll be collaborating with our European allies to challenge royal expenses.  And we’ll be tackling head on the issue of corruption.

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