LETTER : Can't live with them, can't live without them

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AS A convinced republican from the age of reason and an increasingly unwilling subject in the 60 years since, your embrace of the republican cause and your promise to lead the long-overdue public debate on the issues are doubly welcome ("Time for a republic", 18 February).

An early item on the agenda should be a serious examination of the inhuman handicap that a hereditary system places on those closely in line to the throne; our heir apparent was barely out of his nappies before he was schooled in the weird notion that he was endowed with mystical qualities that would combine to give him life-long wealth and effortless influence. No wonder he finds it difficult to form sound relationships with mere mortals.

Things are little better for the rest of the younger generation of royals and their spouses who are expected to fit themselves into a synthetic "Happy Family" straitjacket. This helps to explain, though not excuse, their sometimes aberrant behaviour.

Would-be republican presidents would stand as mature candidates, be elected on their merits, and need not feel obliged to project an ideal family image.

Tom Egan

Eglwyswrw, Dyfed