Our capital is fit to burst. Groaning under the weight of the Commonwealth, London now suffers more countries-per-monarch than any other city in Europe. This economic burden is just one of many constitutional injustices our head-of-state inflicts upon her subjects. So why did support for the monarchy reach a record high in 2012?
The Olympics helped. The Queen skydiving straight into Danny Boyle's time-travelling multi-circus was a pretty neat PR move. And the news of a royal pregnancy probably didn't hurt, either. But the real reason old Queen Liz was able to set a new high score in 2012 was the Diamond Jubilee, which saw the pomp and splendour of the monarchy festooned for all to enjoy. And enjoy it we did: as an epic procession of gilded barges swanned up the Thames, the masses took to the streets to celebrate 60 years of undemocratic rule in a slathering fever of community spirit and miniature flags. It seems matters of principle are all-too-easy to forget when seduced by a powerful parade and a slice of Victoria sponge - something North Korea learnt early on. Albeit without the cake.
The problem for the republican side is that this triumphant British summer further associated expressions of such glory with the concept of 'Kingdom'. Remove the monarchy, say the monarchists, and you forgo the splendour. Nonsense. A United Republic would be far from cakeless, yet this idea of a bleak and barren land refuses to die. In this article I'd like to correct the record, as I present to you a republican manifesto for the new year. It's a vision of a better Britain: a nation where the word 'bunting' is rightfully restored as a verb and where our national post carrier is simply - and proudly - called 'Mail'.
We start with democracy. It is a sad injustice that some women, such as The Queen, still do not enjoy suffrage. In our egalitarian British Republic, everyone would get the vote. Prisoners would be free to leave their cells during the daily Hour's Trust to head to the polling station. Dolphins - which have recently been proved intelligent enough to require treatment as non-human 'persons' - would get the vote, too, along with some of the more switched-on sea lions.
The next move would be to deconcentrate the power of head office. Although the skillsets required to run the state, the army and the church are not as divergent as you'd think, separating these functions would help stem the impression that Britain is utterly backwards. Switzerland has proved that a head of state comprising multiple people can work, and a plural executive would solve the problem of who should live in numbers 1 to 9 Downing Street.
After the revolution, we'd need to move quickly to prevent a counter-coup. All symbols of the monarchy would be disposed of, including the crown jewels, public outpourings of grief and the monarchy. Symbols too expensive to decommission would be recommissioned, with the public sector benefitting from the conversion of all formerly monarchical buildings, including St James's Palace (school), Hampton Court (school) and the Tower Of London (novelty hospital).
Tourism would be bolstered by televising the arranged marriages of national treasures such as Moira Stewart and Mark Lawrenson (and their fortnightly remarriages in times of romantic drought). These splendid affairs at Westminster Abbey would be broadcast the world over, seeding far and wide our national values of love, commitment and fear of God. Kate and Wills eat your hearts out! (After the revolution. On live TV.)
It should go without saying that we would strip all royal titles: Earl would disappear, likewise Sir and Dame, international cricket would be played at the Misters ground... and so on.
This is just a glimpse of the wonder of our Britain-to-be. But to see it realised, we first need to win the will of the nation. So I'll end with a battle-cry to capture hearts and minds. Go forth and spread the word! Print badges and pin them to your elbow! Design posters with catchy slogans - Keep Calm And Abolish The Monarchy! Resistance Is Feudal! Write to your MP, sing to your dentist, bake lasagna for your local bishop; show them how the layers of pasta-sheeted dogma can be peeled away to reveal a democratic undermince.
Do this so that one day, perhaps 60 years from now, we might hold a river pageant of our own. That we might see doves flock over Westminster and hear the children sing rhymes of Liberation Day. And as we watch it unfold on television, a cup of Gray tea by our side, we might even indulge in a slice of Victoria sponge. The one monarchical relic of our former Britain: some colonial cake to remember our bloody and far less wondrous past.
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