Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Dear Kate and William

Congratulations on the birth of your first son. I sincerely hope that he is healthy and happy, and I am sure you will make fine parents. Much of the UK is celebrating along with you today and honouring the birth of their future monarch. You will understand, however, that a great many people have chosen not to mark this occasion.

For Republicans like myself, the idea of monarchy is an anachronism in a 21st Century representative democracy. It suggests that we remain 'subjects' rather than 'citizens' who are in control of our own political destiny. Many people with whom I have discussed this over the past 24 hours have pointed out to me that Republicanism does not have the answers to our present political problems, and that politicians cause their own problems and exact their own cost. I agree entirely with these sentiments, and in fact the current government is itself filled by over-privileged public school boys who have never done a job outside of politics; and quite frankly, the other side is not much better. So surely a monarchy is preferable to the incompetent politicians, right? The difference is that at specific times we can decide who is the Prime Minister; we can decide that the government is not acting in our interests and so choose to throw them out at the next election. We have no such option with the current Head of State. The monarchy is not only unelected, but is also unaccountable which goes against the values of democracy.  Moreover, any one of us can decide to stand for election, get involved and facilitate change at the local, national and increasingly international level. None of us have a shot at being King or Queen. William, you will inherit the throne by the privilege - luck and randomness of birth, not by choice or merit.

I have also heard that the monarchy is valuable because your family 'bring tourists to the UK.' So I hate to break it to you, William, but it seems that you are considered nothing more than a very expensive public funded tourist attraction. It must be difficult to accept that you are thought of in the same way as Alton Towers, Madame Tussauds and the London Eye. If that is what the monarchy has been reduced to, then I am sure you will agree we need to seriously consider its place in modern Britain. Besides, whether we actually have a Royal Family or not does not seem to make much difference, as your castles and other stately homes - the principal draw - will remain. Our history will still be celebrated, and the lives of your ancestors remembered. Yet in 2012, Republican France attracted 83 million visitors (where the Palace of Versailles remains a big attraction with 6 million visitors) whereas the international tourists to the UK were a mere 29.3 million. I really think that the tourists will still come to visit us if we decide to become a Republic. The Monarch has no power whatsoever, though we still have a charade that the Prime Minister must ask permission to dissolve or form a government; and the Monarch signs bills into law - bills that have been deliberated and decided by our duly elected representatives.

I am sure that as you reflect on the miracle of birth today and look lovingly into your new son's eyes, you will also wish to think about the society into which he was born. I am sure you will agree that it would have been nice for him to enter a society where one's luck in life is not determined by birth. You may have seen the disturbing reports that one in three children in the UK - that's four million young people - are living in relative poverty. Your son will never experience the trauma or hardship of children born at exactly the same time to families in Britain and across the world with little hope and opportunity. While your son will be feted by the tabloid press and addressed as 'His Royal Highness,' many of these children will be labelled 'scum,' 'chav,' 'anti-social,' and 'feral' simply because of where they were born and who their parents are. They will begin their life, like Oliver Twist, 'badged and ticketed' through the accident of birth.

I am also sure that the mothers who joined you, Kate, in giving birth yesterday would have liked to have done so in a private suite costing £6000 per night. Of course it would be inappropriate to expect a Royal couple to use a seriously underfunded and understaffed NHS hospital, but I am sure you can see why many people are bitter. Likewise the refurbishment of your new home - £1 million - is being met out of money given to your grandmother, the Queen, by the Government. In other words, our taxes are housing you. I hope you can explain this to would-be first time buyers who cannot afford to take their first step on the property ladder, especially in your neighbourhood, or to those on the waiting list for council houses at a time when few are available because of Thatcher's 'right to buy' and the present government's reluctance to invest in building more council properties. Do the three of you really need five reception rooms, three main bedrooms, dressing rooms and bathrooms, a night and day nursery, nine staff bedrooms and more than 20 ‘ancillary’ rooms? Will you be subject to the tyrannical 'bedroom tax' that has scared and blighted the lives of thousands of your future 'subjects'? And we all hope that you enjoyed your recent tour to Singapore and the South Pacific which cost the taxpayer £370, 590 - the single most expensive Royal visit of the year. I would have said travelling is out of the question with a new born baby, but then you will have a huge team behind you to look after your son, so you will never know the trauma of travelling with young children.

Dear Kate and William, the Tory government likes to tell us that, referring to a necessary period of austerity, 'we are all in this together.' This is not true; some by the sheer accident of birth have been lucky to escape the kind of austerity measures being forced on thousands of families across the UK - caps to welfare payments, cuts to disability allowances, increases in VAT. For many the dole is the only way they can put food on the tables for their children. Count your blessings that your son will never have to suffer this way.

So, you will understand why some of us are Republicans and would like to see the abolition of this medieval institution of monarchy. It does not sit well with the kind of representative democracy for which many of our ancestors fought and died; and in a time of economic mismanagement by the government, the life of luxury you and your family enjoy is resented by thousands of like-minded people across the country. We are often reminded, William, that you represent a new generation of Royals; someone who, like your mother, is determined to do things differently and shake up the Firm. I just hope that you are sufficiently courageous and considerate to use the scraps of power you will inherit one day to abolish the monarchy for once and for all. That will be the greatest service you can do for your country.

In the meantime, I hope you both are allowed some time away from the public spotlight to get to know your son, and that the media desist from the kind of obsessive behaviour we have seen in the past 48 hours. May your family be healthy and happy, and I wish you all the best.


A citizen of the UK

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