It has been much loved in history but it is obviously coming to the end of its useful life.”Professor John Keane, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster and author of a Tom Paine biography, said: “A republic is important for economic reasons. Will Hutton has best put this argument and it is why a magazine like the Economist has gone down that road. There is a growing dispute in British politics not only about policies but the rules of the game. Naturally, the republican issue surfaces.”While recent royal behaviour has made it increasingly easy for closet republicans to come out and declare their true sentiments, many people still prefer discretion.Howard Davies, for example, deputy governor of the Bank of England, has been reported as a radical republican who believes the British would be better off with an elected head of state instead of the Queen. But Mr Davies was unavailable for comment “because of his position”. George Walden, Conservative MP for Buckingham, was careful not to commit himself to a full-blown republic but said: “If the current establishment don’t watch out, they will get it.
I’m for downgrading the entire royal ensemble but not instituting a republic. We’ll have to see how it goes.”Of course, it is not only members of the establishment who question the future of the monarchy in Britain. John McVicar, armed robber turned writer, has similar views.”I have a real bee in my bonnet about it,” he said yesterday “I am totally against the royal family. People forget what they symbolise – a feudal hangover.”I think the idea that positions should be inherited is quite horrible and that is the premise that the royal family lives on. And they have such prestige in this country that they drag a lot of nouveaux riches into the same kind of thinking. It deflects away from the entrepreneurial and meritocratic society which is the modern world. It’s pernicious and contrary to the whole ethos of modern capitalist democracy.”.
CLOSET republicans who don’t dare pin their colours to the mast in daylight can meet like-minded anti-royalists dining in a private room on the first floor of a fashionable London restaurant. These secret soirees are organised by the Common Sense Club, which takes its name from the book by the social reformer Tom Paine and has close links with Republic, the British republican movement.
It provides a forum to discuss “constitutional reform”, a euphemism for abolishing the monarchy, the institution Paine compared to “something kept behind a curtain, about which there is a great deal of bustle and fuss, and an air of seeming solemnity…but when the curtain happens to open, and the company see what it is, they burst into laughter”.Its six founder members are Professor Stephen Haseler, chairman of Republic, Jon Temple, the group’s secretary, Anthony Holden, twice biographer of the Prince of Wales, Brian Basham, a public relations consultant , Peter Singer, a former journalist, and Roy Greenslade, a former editor of the Daily Mirror. They have since elected a seventh member, John Norton, a banker who is married to the Labour MP Marjorie Mowlam.”The key thing is that a lot of people feel quite strongly about this issue but don’t like to talk in public about it,” explained Professor Haseler. “The higher up people are, the less they feel they can say because of the establishment problem.”Of the club’s monthly meetings, Mr Greenslade said: “They are convivial occasions in which we discuss the bringing down of the monarchy. It’s good food at L’Etoile in Charlotte Street and six of us invite a guest each.”They don’t have to be republicans but they are always opinion-formers.”We are there to rid us of the monarchy before we move into the 21st Century People say: ‘Come on, it’s all a waste of time You little six gathered in your little garret. Can you be serious?” But we’ve had MPs, businessmen and journalists, including the editor of the Economist and two editors of national newspapers.”. A LOCAL councillor from Reading who has set his heart on taking the Royal out of Royal Berkshire has launched Britain’s first ever regional republican society in an attempt to make his dream come true.