Review of the year

7 December 2016

It's been another fantastic year for Republic in 2016.
 
This year has seen yet more increases to royal funding, and Republic has been challenging the cost of the monarchy from the very beginning. Starting with the launch of our #ScrapTheGrant campaign in January, we called for the Sovereign Grant to be scrapped. At the time we said the 38% royal funding increase in five years was a 'madness that it has to stop’.
 
The madness continued as plans were announced to increase the Queen's official funding by 6.5% to £45.6m next year. We said it was time to end the millions of pounds of state subsidy for the lavish homes, travel and security of the minor royals, following similar plans in Denmark.
 
The government announced in November that taxpayers would foot the £369m bill for Buckingham Palace renovations, and that the Sovereign Grant would almost double to £76.1m. Republic said this was an absolute disgrace and called for Buckingham palace to be handed back to the people. This was followed by a surge in membership and almost 13,000 signatures of our petition
 
As part of our commitment to a monarchy free Europe, Republic has been working with republican movements across Europe to share information and plan future campaigns and collaboration. 
 
In January, Republic was invited to the Netherlands to work with Dutch republican campaign Nieuw Republikeins Genootschap. Later in April, Republic attended the annual convention of the Alliance of European Republican Movements (AERM) in Madrid, meeting with anti-monarchy activists from the republican movements of Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, and Spain.
 
In addition to countless campaign actions and events organised by local activists up and down the country, this year's national events were organised with a broad, wide reaching republican movement in mind. 
 
We planned national events with collaboration at the forefront, inviting campaigners and experts from the wider campaign for democracy and transparency to take part. Starting with a lively Members' Day in March, members from all over the country came together to discuss the issues with speakers including journalist and freedom of information campaigner Heather Brook, journalist and human rights activist Joan Smith, and Director of Unlock Democracy, Alexandra Runswick.
 
Republic's Annual Convention was held in Manchester and continued this theme, with speakers from the Swedish and Danish republican movements, and the directors of the National Secular Society and Campaign for Freedom of Information.
 

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In April, Republic said Happy Birthday Mrs Windsor, asserting that a long life is no reason for a long reign, and celebrated the Queen's Birthday again in June, describing the media coverage as "out of touch with reality." It was a Happy Birthday for Republic too, with hundreds of new members and supporters signing up to be part of the campaign.
 
Working with politicians and political activists is an important part of Republic's campaign, and as MPs called for a new national anthem for England, Republic challenged MPs to drop God Save the Queen and to introduce two new anthems, one for England and one for the UK.
 
Following the publication of Republic's Royal Secrets report in the final week of 2015, Republic met with with Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake to call for The Public Interest and Transparency Bill to include the extension of the Freedom of Information Act to the royal household, aiming to end years of secrecy.
 
During the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections in May, Republic called for a new Oath of Allegiance for politicians in Scotland and Wales, saying it was completely wrong that politicians should swear allegiance to the Queen but not their country or people. Our petitions gained over 6,500 signatures, were reported in newspapers around Scotland, and were debated on BBC Scotland tonight.
 
In the lead up to the EU referendum, Republic criticised royal interventions by Prince William and the Queen. Following the vote to leave the European Union, Republic called for wide-ranging changes to Britain's constitution, and the clarification of the powers of government, parliament and people - in a new written constitution.
 
It has been a very busy year, yet it has been priority for Republic to build on successes in previous years by growing as an organisation and building a stronger platform for action. Early in the year we added a new Campaigns Officer to our staff team, and during the summer we developed a completely new website and membership database, getting to work behind the scenes to give us a website that is ready to take the fight to the monarchy and a database that can really help build a stronger movement.
 
August brought one of the biggest and most exciting developments of the year, as Republic moved into its first office. Getting an office has been a game changing leap forward, allowing us to get more done and to campaign harder than ever before.
 
Making use of this productivity boost we have been working hard producing the Take Back the Duchy film. Our campaign team has spent the year interviewing commentators, experts and politicians from across the country, and traveled to the Isles of Scilly, talking to tenants and business owners in the Duchy of Cornwall itself. Republic's annual John Campbell Lecture proved a fantastic opportunity to invite Duchy of Cornwall researcher and expert Dr John Kirkhope to expose countless cases of Duchy secrecy and privilege.
 
Republic is now eager and looking forward to a busy 2017, with the launch of big new campaigns, the release of the Take Back the Duchy film, and even bigger national events - including Annual Convention in Newcastle upon Tyne.
 
We owe a great deal of thanks to every one of our members and supporters who have continued to support Republic's work this year, and we extend a very warm welcome to the new members and supporters that have joined us in 2016.
 
The unsung heroes of our movement, we also owe a huge thank you to our local campaigners who work tirelessly organising events and leafleting up and down the country.
 
Here's to an even stronger republican movement in 2017!
 
From all of us at Republic,
 
Happy New Year!

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