Prince Harry’s revelation that he was once keen to relinquish his royal title might have sparked alarm among many royalists but Republicans have expressed far less shock.
The 32-year-old, who is fifth in line for the throne, admitted he once “wanted out” of the royal family in an interview over the weekend. The Prince said the time he spent in the army when he was “just Harry” was “the best escape I’ve ever had”.
Republic, a pressure group which campaigns for the UK monarchy to replaced with an elected, democratic head of state, told The Independent the Prince’s disclosure was testimony to the fact it was time for Britain to abolish the monarchy.
The campaign group argued the younger generation of royals appeared to be gaining greater self-awareness and could be considering whether they wanted to bow out of royal life for good. They also noted that being a member of the royal family often lacked a clearly defined role and could feel like something of a hollow, purposeless existence.
Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, said: “There is a lot of pressure on the younger royals to go along with it all and maintain the status quo but perhaps they are gaining some self-awareness about how they look to the public.
“You would hope they are a bit embarrassed by the fawning and the sycophancy and are wondering if that is what they want for their children.”
He added: “If Prince Harry wants to leave he should leave. I have some sympathy but it’s limited given a huge amount of taxpayer’s money is thrown at him with no great expectation.”
“I think there has been the perennial problem that the royal family have no clear role and no purpose. Not having a normal job must leave you a bit frustrated, having said that most of their time is spent leading a life of leisure.”
This directly ties in with the Prince’s comments about being bitterly upset by being forced to leave the army in 2008 after his whereabouts were leaked by the media and his role was judged to have become a security issue. He noted in the recent interview with the Mail on Sunday: "I felt very resentful … I felt as though I was really achieving something”.
The Prince, who has dedicated much of his time in recent years to charitable causes including helping wounded veterans and raising awareness of mental health, also caused a massive stir in an earlier interview last week after saying no one in the royal family wanted the throne.
“We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people,” he told Newsweek magazine. “Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”
But Mr Smith disputed the notion that the Prince, who is the younger son of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Princess Diana, the Princess of Wales, was doing some greater good.
He said: “The idea that he’s carrying out the greater good is a bit rich given the country would do just as well without him. I also don’t buy the idea that he has taken on some great burden on our behalf”.
The campaigner argued Britain was in need of a head of state which was eager and able to perform the role, saying: “We need people who have an honest, accountable relationship with the public”.
Mr Smith added: “I think that we’re coming towards the end of the Queen’s reign debate and I think more and more people are coming to the conclusion that it’s time to move on. I think there’s every chance that at some point we’ll move to a republic.”
Writing on their website, Republic say they want to abolish the monarchy because hereditary public office clashes with “every democratic principle”.
“And because we can’t hold the Queen and her family to account at the ballot box, there’s nothing to stop them abusing their privilege, misusing their influence or simply wasting our money,” the site adds.
“Meanwhile, the monarchy gives vast arbitrary power to the government, shutting voters out from major decisions affecting the national interest. The Queen can only ever act in the interests of the government of the day and does not represent ordinary voters.”
“The monarchy is a broken institution. A head of state that’s chosen by us could really represent our hopes and aspirations – and help us keep politicians in check.”
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