The republican movement in Britain has announced it will campaign to make the case for holding a referendum on the future of the British monarchy after the Queen's death.
Republic, a grassroots movement that has over 5,000 members and 35,000 supporters, claims the British monarchy is not the “harmless tourist attraction some people think” – rather, it has a history of abusing public money and meddling in politics.
In a statement posted on the group’s website on the eve of the Queen's birthday, they added the event "reminds us that support for the monarchy is bound up with support for the Queen." A pink banner on the homepage also wishes "Mrs Windsor" a "happy birthday", alongside the subtle hashtag: "Stop the reign".
Speaking to The Independent Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, said the organisation’s view is to have a referendum as soon as possible. He believes the period of time in between the Queen’s funeral and Prince Charles’s coronation will provide an opportune moment.
“It will be the first time most people have seen a change in the head of state,” he says. “I think that’s going to be a slightly odd, jarring experience for a lot of people. All of a sudden you’ve got this this other monarch who has been hoisted upon us and no debate about who it is going to be.
“For once, actually seeing hereditary power in practice – you’ll actually see the inheritance of the throne taking place”.
He added: “It [the referendum] is to get rid of it… it needs to be a straight-forward constitutional reform referendum. We may win or we may lose but the succession would change public opinion, it will change the nature of the debate.
“I think most public opinion is indifferent to the whole thing and awful lot of it is tied up with the Queen. Over the next ten years the debate is going to pick up because people will be coming alive to the fact that Charles is looming on the horizon as King.”
During a convention of the Alliance of European Republic Movements in Madrid last week Mr Smith said that while there is “nothing wrong with turning 90,” there is “something wrong with turning 90 when you have been Queen of England for sixty-something years”.
In a recording of the event published on YouTube, Mr Smith added: “When the Queen dies, the moment she is declared dead, Charles is king. So there is no gap. And there is certainly no official plan for a referendum. He is king immediately. The coronation would be about six months later.
“So that will be an opportunity, after the funeral and before the coronation, for us to do some campaigning and say, ‘Hang on a minute, this is the 21st century, if we are going to have a new head of state then perhaps we want to have a vote.’
The group has also condemned the BBC’s coverage of the Queen’s birthday. A statement published by Mr Smith said: "The Queen's birthday does not warrant this kind of coverage, it is inappropriate to celebrate a political figure like this and the public just aren't that excited about the royals."
"The BBC has a duty to report, not to celebrate the royals. That reporting must be fair, balanced and proportionate. So far this week the BBC has failed completely on those measures."
“It’s completely over the top,” Mr Smith told The Independent. “I don’t wish the Queen anything but a happy birthday but it does raise all these questions about the future of the monarchy.”
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