Republicanism remains a dirty word in the UK

4 mins read

After the pompous display of disparity in the UK this past coronation, it has become overwhelmingly clear that despite only one third of young people in the UK actively backing the monarchy, republicanism is still viewed as a radical topic that many politicians attempt to distance themselves from.

As the UK has struggled post-pandemic with inflation, poverty, and struggling public services, more and more young people have begun to think critically about the monarchy as an institution, how it supposedly benefits us, and how much money we pour into it.

Regardless of your own opinion on the monarchy, it is undeniable that republicanism is on the rise in the UK, as anti-monarchy protests took to the streets up and down the country, prominently in London but smaller ones taking place in Edinburgh on the day of the coronation.

Despite this, praise of the monarchy has become impossible to avoid in this past week, with nearly every news channel, shop window, and television show having some sort of “patriotic” reference to the coronation costing the taxpayer between £50-100 million. All the while, doctors, nurses, and teachers, are being told that their demands for a fair wage are “unrealistic” and that a “magic money tree” doesn’t exist.

However, regardless of how angry many of the public are about this poor decision in public spending, we effectively have no sort of political representation to express this. In a move that surprised absolutely no one, Labour leader Kier Starmer, the “opposition” to the current Tory government attended the coronation, a contrast to the reaction of the first Labour Party leader’s reaction to George V’s coronation, who dubbed it: “an orgy for the display of wealth and senseless spending”.

In a move that I can only dub disappointing but not surprising, First Minister Humza Yousaf, who claims to be a republican himself, was also in attendance. Whilst some could argue that as an elected leader he is required to represent Scotland at the coronation, who is representing not only Scottish republicans, but republicans in general?

Today anti-monarchy protestors in London were arrested, physically carried away by police, and had their “Not My King” placards confiscated, a chilling repetition of history back when republican protests took place following the death of the Queen. This raises the question: if supposed “republican” politicians aren’t representing republicans, and they aren’t permitted to represent themselves in the form of peaceful protest, who can represent them?

This suppression of republican views during one of the most costly acts of pageantry in 70 years is a reflection of the UK’s dangerous obsession with the monarchy.

Whilst the use of food banks and the cost of living is on the rise, the idea of redirecting funds from an unelected head of state still remains an “extreme” view in the eyes of mainstream news outlets and politicians. And until this changes, the UK is doomed to continue the tradition of propping up this costly and wasteful institution. And that’s before addressing the fact that the new King’s brother is an accused rapist.

Featured Image Credit: Anika De Klerk/Unsplash

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1st year politics and journalism student.

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