Is Republicanism Really Growing in the U.K?
"This country was built on the blood of slavery!"
Introduction: The Birth of an Identity Crisis
Over the past six years, the United Kingdom has undergone a lot of changes. Britain's exit from the European Union, the economic and social impact of COVID-19, and the added pressure on the National Health Service (NHS). Five conservative Prime Ministers with a decade worth of austerity.
The United Kingdom is facing economic strife and hardship as inflation strikes the poorest the hardest. Plunging some citizens into poverty both in food and energy. While the rich renovate their luxury apartments, nurses use food banks. Britain has never been more divided, and the lines aren’t clean-cut.
It is my belief that upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II (1926 - 2022) divisions in British society widened further than before, calling into question the very purpose of the monarchy, our freedom of expression. Questioned our democracy and thus sparked the Republican movement on social media. It seems the U.K is in an identity crisis as well as the cost of living. The U.K cannot decide as a collective whether the monarchy should remain or end, as it stands it is a nation of citizens who cannot choose what they want, because of such divisions.
In the last seven to eight weeks alone the U.K has had a new Head of State and a Prime Minster, all without a single vote. As a result, I aim to ask, as a consequence of Queen Elizabeth II’s death is Republicanism really beginning to grow (again) in the U.K?
Republicanism and Democracy: Defined Definitions and Blurred Lines
During Britain's mourning period over the Queen, anti-monarchists were arrested for disrupting the peace. Most of the protestors held up signs written with the phrase ‘Not My King’, which was quickly adopted by Republic U.K After this, people began to actively discuss the monarchy’s role in the modern world, claiming that imperialism has no place at all.
What I found interesting is that the majority of individuals involved in this open discourse viewed the U.K as a democratic society, rather than a republican one, despite some having followed and retweeted Republic U.K’s latest post. It seemed the term republican also means democratic, even though the two societal infrastructures are distinguished in definition, they do overlap.
The ideology of Republicanism hasn’t been a relevant topic in Britain since Oliver Cromwell (1599 - 1658) and the Roundheads, suddenly an old idea has (as if) restructured itself upon the death of another.
I believe it to be wise to begin by establishing the definitions of both similarities and differences between a Republic and a Democracy for clarification. Republics and democracies both provide a political system in which citizens are represented by elected officials who are sworn to protect their interests.
According to history expert Robert Longley who claims that in a republic, laws are made by representatives chosen by the people and must comply with a constitution that especially protects the rights of the minority from the will of the majority (The Roman Republic 509BCE). Compared to that of a democracy where ‘laws are made directly by the voting majority leaving the right of the minority largely unprotected’ (Athenian democracy in Greece 500 BCE). It is also important to acknowledge that it is unclear what Republic U.K’s exact aims and policies are, as they too blur the two concepts. I did ask for an interview, but I am yet waiting for a response, so far my email has been ‘forwarded.’
The Survival of the Monarchy and the U.K: A Daily Change
In September, I had to attend a work-based interview for the first time in my life - it was degrading. As a consequence of the pandemic, I lost my job and a year or so later had a baby. I and millions signed onto the wealth fare system known as Universal Credit and remained so for just over two years. My Work Coach who had previously worked in Parliament confessed that the very constitutional system doesn’t work, from the Houses of Commons to Monarchy itself. He said and I quote ‘the whole thing needs to be uprooted, and we just need to start again,’ a few days later the Queen died, and the Republic UK started filling up my Twitter feed.
As I have previously suggested, Britain is in an identity crisis. The state does not know what it wants or agrees with itself, and I hypothesise that come the turn of the century, the U.K will not exist as we know it, nor will the constitutional monarchy. Tensions are rising among the public, Republican U.K has a platform with a growing following, and Scottish and Welsh independence is being considered and discussed on media outlets.
Although, as it stands, no one has an alternative to offer or solutions to current undergoing problems in Britain, let alone know and represent what the people actually want as a collective body. I asked a few of my readers whether they thought republicanism was growing in the U.K? Or whether something else entirely. What was revealing was that no matter whether they supported the monarchy or identified as Republicans, most agreed that the monarchy will dissolve eventually, as it has done for other nations such as France, but weren’t sure a republic state would happen either.
Despite the Republic UK’s newfound influence, Not My King is accompanied by the Enough is Enough trend on repeat. The responses imply that it is the natural order, yet no one could not provide an idea as to what may exist if hypothetically: the Republic U.K took charge, or the very constitution was ripped up and rewritten, the Magna Carta as an example.
In an article called ‘Will Britain Survive?’ written by Tom McTague a staff writer at The Atlantic he draws a comparison between the Habsburg Empire claiming it ‘fell apart because, in its desperation to survive World War I, it undermined the foundation of its legitimacy as an empire of nations, becoming instead an Austrian autocracy.’ McTague continues to mention that ‘the last time the U.K. lost a major chunk of its territory [was] when London failed to build a nation from the state it had created between Britain and Ireland in 1800.’ He also warns of a similar fate to that of the Soviet Union.
The Future: Reflections and Reconsiderations
As I reconsider the original question ‘as a consequence of Queen Elizabeth II’s death is Republicanism really growing in the U.K?’ I hypothesise that Britain will not survive as we know it, because as of what I have researched so far, Republicanism in Britain isn’t clearly defined, nor are the divisions prevalent in society. I theorise that a new form of democracy will occur instead of a republic after the total societal collapse of the old constitution. I do not think this will be a peaceful process, especially from the perspective of grievance theory (cost of living crisis).
I do not claim however to know how or when it will occur this will require further research. Regarding the dissolution of the monarchy, I also hypothesise it will begin with an abduction in an attempt to keep the peace.
My article Saying Goodbye to the Crown revealed two things:
1) Britain is a divided, broken and disunited country, which has led to a national identity crisis - this is dangerous territory as warned by McTague. 2) The attitudes towards the monarchy are rapidly changing as British citizens face the harshest winter in living memory. U.K citizens are questioning the purpose of the monarchy, the requirement for one, and the total cost. While others argue historical and cultural significance, tourism, and overall respect for the Crown. It appears different versions of at least two of the U.K exist, one is anti-monarchist, the other royalist.
However, Republicanism, as it is defined, is not growing in the United Kingdom, rather, it is a new variant of Republicanism with democratic values, interests and ideals. Upon this discovery, I ask a new question: Will the United Kingdom stay united?
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About the Creator
Rosie J. Sargent
Hello, my lovelies! Welcome, I write everything from the very strange to the wonderful; daring and most certainly different. I am an avid coffee drinker and truth advocate.
If you're open to an argument follow me on Twitter @NuttallJasmin :)
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