Voices: Hold on – at the age of 44, am I finally a republican?

·3-min read
As it turns out, I don’t think I need a coronation to make me feel patriotic (AFP/Getty)
As it turns out, I don’t think I need a coronation to make me feel patriotic (AFP/Getty)

No one is more surprised than me. Thoughts that I never expected have recently started to creep into my head. It’s time to tackle them head-on.

I am a lifelong constitutional conservative (please note, that is not the same as a big-C Conservative), and have long argued that the sometimes arcane way in which we organise our government is a recipe for stability.

I’ve never been particularly bothered by the pomp and ceremony, but, for me, the powerless monarchy has always been a key part of our constitution. I’d rather mow the lawn than watch a royal wedding, but in the past I’ve dismissed those campaigning for a republic as silly or juvenile.

And yet now, aged 44, I am beginning to have my doubts. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve been wrong all along.

What has brought on this creeping sense of doubt? Well – most obviously – the Queen, who has always seemed a pretty decent sort of cove, isn’t going to go on for ever. This rather concentrates the mind, does it not?

Having a consistent, slightly bland head of state who has essentially said nothing of interest for 70 years is one thing, but having Prince Charles as king is quite another.

Controversies around the dishing out of peerages in return for charitable donations to his favourite causes have littered the Sunday papers for months now. They have served as a weekly reminder, a drip-drip-drip sense of uncertainty giving rise to the fear that Charles might not be a particularly good fit for the role that is apparently his manifest destiny.

I don’t feel a high degree of confidence – any confidence, actually – that he will be suited to being the apolitical rock to which we can tether stable governments in the decades to come. He’s too opinionated. He evidently can’t keep his gob shut – he would surely have done so by now, if he thought he could.

I’ve begun to wonder if it might be less constitutionally dangerous to avoid this risk altogether and just do away with the role before we are faced with this challenging scenario. No monarchy; no King Charles. No King Charles; no drip-drip-drip of silly opinions and questionable royal acquaintances.

But it’s not just the possibility of the succession that has made me think the unthinkable. It’s also a nagging feeling that as a country – and perhaps more importantly, as a nation – we ought to be slightly more confident about ourselves; that we shouldn’t need such an archaic constitutional crutch.

Indeed, I love this country and its wonderful, eccentric people full of common sense. As it turns out, I don’t think I need a coronation to make me feel patriotic.

To keep up to speed with all the latest opinions and comment, sign up to our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter by clicking here

And then, finally, there’s one other thought that’s been tickling away at me. Advocates of our constitutional monarchy, including me, have always pointed out that having an unelected head of state lends our system of government more stability than those with elected presidents. Well, the last handful of years of Brexit-fuelled mayhem have rather tested that theory to destruction, haven’t they?

Simply, Britain, with a monarch at the helm, hasn’t exactly been an advert for stable democracy. It didn’t stop the attempted prorogation of parliament, Dominic Cummings, or a hard Brexit.

So there you have it. It’s still really a niggle, to be honest, and I’m still not sure. But I have a funny feeling that sometime soon I’m going to have to come out: I might be a republican.

Ed Dorrell is a director at Public First

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting