Review of the year
2015 has been a fantastically busy year for Republic – it has been difficult to sum it all up here – but we’ve chosen the best bits.
We’d like to start by thanking all of our members, new members, and valued supporters for their support this year. We’ve had significant victories in 2015, and have taken large strides forward in many ways during the year – all thanks to your continued support.
A priority for us in 2015 was to recruit more members and the year got off to a great start with hundreds of new member’s joining Republic, a trend that carried on throughout the year.
Our Royal Secrets crowd-funding appeal, launched in the Autumn of 2014, came to a fantastic close in January having raised 256% of our original target, enabling us to start work on our Royal Secrets report. The final ruling on the Guardian’s fight for release of prince Charles's secret letters to ministers came in May and Republic welcomed the Supreme Court decision in favour of their release.
In April, Republic representatives attended the annual convention of the Alliance of European Republican Movements (AERM) in Amsterdam. The Republic team met anti-monarchy activists from the republican movements of Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, and Spain to share information and plan future campaigns and collaboration.
The general election dominated political debate in the first half of the year, and in the run-up to the country taking to the polls we launched our Republic in Parliament campaign. We built tools allowing our supporters to quiz parliamentary candidates on their attitudes to republicanism, the monarchy and democratic accountability, receiving responses from hundreds of candidates.
We welcomed Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood’s support for an end to the monarchy, just as in January we said that Green Party leader Natalie Bennett’s republican stance came as a ‘breath of fresh air’.
We branded Prince William the ‘Lazy Prince’ when our research found that despite continuous claims of being a hard working royal, William had been anything but, working just 46.7 days of work during his first year since leaving the RAF.
Shortly before the general election, Princess Charlotte was born, and while the media fawned over another royal birth Republic asked one simple question: Shouldn't every child be #bornEqual?
We took the opportunity to raise serious questions about hereditary power, challenge media hype – and defend the right of the new princess to choose her own path in life. We also called on our supporters and the wider public to respond to the media coverage of the royal birth by making a donation to the Child Poverty Action Group.
In June, as the royals released their annual accounts claiming to cost the taxpayer around £40m, we published Royal Expenses: counting the cost of the monarchy, our report into the true cost of the monarchy. The report exposed the reality behind royal expenses, highlighting hundreds of millions of pounds of costs that the official report ignores.
Our research set the cost of the monarchy at £334m a year, with each ‘working royal’ costing the taxpayer £18.5m each, money that could employ thousands of nurses, teachers or police officers. The full report can be read on our website.
As the Queen became the UK’s longest-reigning monarch in September we said a long reign is a reason for reform, not celebration – it was time to #StopTheReign. We argued that the Queen had survived this long in her role as head of state for one reason, she has never had to face election or be held to account. Our CEO, Graham Smith, created a short film for BBC Daily Politics saying it's time we started thinking about the future, about who is going to succeed the Queen, and how they will be chosen.
Having unveiled our campaign to Take Back the Duchy of Cornwall at our successful Annual Conference in Bristol, our focus turned in the Autumn to Prince Charles. The Take Back the Duchy campaign was aimed at changing public attitudes towards Charles’s political activities and to produce a film challenging the privilege and power he has as Duke of Cornwall.
The film project got off to a great start, quickly raising the funds required and recruiting film professionals to produce the film with us. We ended the year on target raising funds to also produce an information booklet, talk to MPs and hold events across the country challenging royal power and privilege.
In November, Republic hosted the annual John Campbell Lecture, delivered this year by PR expert Robert Philips at Amnesty International’s head quarters in London. It was fantastic to see so many supporters attend the lecture during which Robert gave a stark warning to the monarchy – that with the demise of PR the monarchy is in real trouble.
The year ended with a “significant victory” for Republic with the publication of our Royal Secrets report, funded entirely by our earlier crowd-funding appeal.
Following a three year Freedom of Information battle fought by Republic's researchers the Royal Secrets report was able to reveal that Prince Charles is sent highly confidential Cabinet papers as a matter of routine, in contravention of the government's own rules. We called on the practice to stop, saying that the documents would give Charles a major advantage when lobbying ministers and wrote to the Prime Minister to call on him to end the practice immediately.
Republic set the media agenda on the issue, was quoted in every newspaper you can think of, was featured on the front page of the Guardian and the Daily Mail, and prompted the Labour Party to call for an inquiry into Charles's access to these sensitive documents – a victorious end to a successful year.
2015 has been such a success for Republic due to the five-year strategy developed in 2014 by our board of directors and campaign team. The plan has helped us achieve more than ever before this year. There has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes to prepare for another fantastic year in 2016 and we’re incredibly excited to get going in the New Year.
Thank you to everyone who has supported our work this year, and a warm welcome to all of the new members and supporters that have joined us along the way. A big thank you also to our local campaigners who work tirelessly organising events and leafleting in and around our major cities.
From all of us at Republic,
Happy New Year!
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