Anti-monarchists question Diamond Jubilee party
From Prasun Sonwalkar
London, Jun 3 (PTI) Amidst royal pageantry and partying to celebrate 60 years of Queen Elizabeth''s reign, a leading republican campaign group believes that holidays and partying during the Diamond Jubilee weekend is fine, but the idea behind it is just out of place.
Strong opposed to the idea of monarchy, the campaign group Republic wants a head of state for Britain who is elected, rather than a monarchy that is "expensive, unaccountable and a drag on our democratic process". The monarchy is a broken institution, it says.
As the biggest event of the celebrations � the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant � unfolds today, Republic has organised a protest near City Hall for what is described as the "biggest republican protest in living memory". The pageant includes a 1000-boat strong flotilla.
Along with teeming crowds of royal enthusiasts, Republic said there will be "loud, bold and provocative" demonstration in full view of the royal barge as the Queen and other royals disembark to watch the pageant pass through Tower Bridge.
The pressure group has been in ongoing talks with the Metropolitan Police, who have pledged to facilitate the protest as part of their operations for the day.
Republic''s views are echoed by those opposed to monarchy, such as the influential pro-Labour columnist, Polly Toynbee, who wrote in The Guardian: "What are we celebrating? A singularly undistinguished family''s hold on the nation, a mirage of nationhood, a majestic delusion".
Republic group organisers have been buoyed by a recent ICM poll which found the number of people believing Britain would be worse off without the royal family has dropped sharply from 63% to 51% in jubilee year.
Republic also published a new pamphlet � 60 Inglorious Years � which argues that the Queen''s reign has been characterised by "personal enrichment, feeble leadership and an obstinate refusal to allow real scrutiny of her role".
Republic''s chief executive Graham Smith said: "Our loud, bold and provocative protest is a major step forward for the republican movement and an opportunity to kickstart a real debate about the future of the monarchy".
He added: "The hereditary system is offensive to all the democratic values this country has fought for in the past. The jubilee represents a celebration of everything we, as republicans, oppose � it is our right and duty to challenge it and promote the alternative." PTI PS