Republicans hold 'alternative' street party in London

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The Independent Online

As royalists celebrated the marriage of William and Kate, a small group of republicans lobbied for the "abolition of the monarchy" at a street party with a twist.

Republic, a pressure group which campaigns for a democratically elected head of state, hosted a "Not the Royal Wedding" street party in central London to give those who view the monarchy less favourably an alternative to the royal mania sweeping the country.

In an anti-monarchy gesture, the group incorporated traditional street party features such as stalls, games and music but gave them fresh appeal.

Stalls included Buy An Honour, where punters could pick a traditional honour, such as Knight or Dame, and for a small price could receive a certificate confirming their new title.

Party-goers could even opt for the more general recognition of All Round Nice Person in a display of defiance against the current honours system.

Sarah Punshon, 31, from south London, said the traditional system is "outdated".

Ms Punshon spent the day running a creative stall encouraging people to make their own republic bunting.

Participants were asked to write personal pledges of allegiance on their coloured flags instead of promising to be a "faithful subject" as those becoming British citizens are currently required to do.

"At the moment you have to swear an oath to be a faithful subject but here citizens can choose what they want to pledge," Ms Punshon said.

Flags hanging nearby showed pledges of allegiance to English beer, test cricket, Dr Who on Saturdays and cake.

More than 200 supporters, some wearing T-shirts emblazoned with Citizen not Subject, enjoyed food, drink and games to the sound of a fanfare band.

The party, advertised as a "celebration of democracy and people-power rather than inherited privilege" took place in Red Lion Square, Holborn, and attracted republicans from all age groups.

Calling for a "democratic alternative to the monarchy", party-goers were keen to air their views on the debate between monarchists and republicans.

John Deery, 45, from west London, described the royal family as "unjustifiable" in the modern day and age.

"What I want is a democratic alternative to the monarchy," he said.

"I'm not an anarchist but I want a fair society, a fair democracy and I don't think we have one.

"The Queen has a meeting every week with the Prime Minister so she has an ear of the man who runs the country every week and that's just not fair.

"I'd really like half an hour a week with the Prime Minister, they should not have that influence," he said.

Mr Deery added that his feelings weren't "personal" against the royals and said that "Will is probably a nice guy".

Republic, which formed in 1983, has seen its membership figures double to 15,000 since the royal engagement was announced in November.

The group campaign for "a democratically accountable head of state and an end to any constitutional role for the royal family".

They believe that the monarchy is an unaccountable and expensive institution which does not represent a "modern Britain".