VIDEO THUMBNAIL Coronation explainer 6
This is what you can expect to see at King Charles III's coronation
04:04 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: Graham Smith is CEO of the campaign organisation Republic, which aims to abolish the monarchy and replace it with an elected head of state. His is the author of upcoming book, “Abolish the Monarchy: Why We Should and How We Will.” The views expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more opinion on CNN. 

CNN  — 

When King Charles rumbles up the road from Buckingham Palace in his horse drawn carriage on May 6, off to his coronation, I will be nearby, protesting for the abolition of the British monarchy.

Graham Smith is CEO of the campaign organisation Republic, which aims to abolish the monarchy and replace it with an elected head of state. His new book Abolish The Monarchy: Why We Should and How We Will is out on June1.

I will be joined by many other protesters, each of us determined to do two things: show the world Britain isn’t a nation of royalists and tell the British people it’s time we brought this nonsense to an end.

The monarchy is always wrong in principle and is no good in practice. The support it has had until recently was sustained by the Queen, by media deference and by official secrecy (the Royal Household is exempt from Freedom of Information requests).

That support is now falling. According to a recent Savanta poll, support for abolition – that is, Britain having an elected head of state – is close to a third. Even more so for young people under 35 years, where it’s almost half.

Importantly, most people simply aren’t interested in the coronation. After a string of scandals – from accusations of racism (the Royal Household maintains that it complies with the provisions of the Equality Act) to the ongoing saga of Prince Andrew (who has continually denied allegations of sexual abuse) – the monarchy is now reduced to an uninspiring quartet: Charles and Camilla, William and Kate. These are not people to turn around those falling polls.

But while it is almost certainly the case that in Charles we have a head of state who would lose a free and fair election, opposition to the monarchy isn’t about the royals. Yes, in my view the monarchy is corrupt, guilty of systematic abuses of public office and public money, albeit legitimized by the government.

But more profound concerns lie behind the growing push for a republic. It is about recognizing the strength of democratic ideals and the failures of Britain’s own democracy. It’s about democratic reform that leaves no room for hereditary power and privilege.

The monarchy not only forces us to compromise our values, to make intellectual room for hereditary public office and for an institution steeped in the crimes of slavery and empire – it fails to deliver or defend a democratic culture or constitution.

Quite the opposite, the monarchy is the wellspring of so much that’s wrong with our politics. The Crown is the source of all political and legal power. The courts exercise their power in the name of the Crown, as do government ministers.

Over the past 300 years the powers of the monarch have simply been passed on to the government, allowing them to declare war, sign treaties and control parliament. Power is highly centralized, the government largely free to do as it pleases with few checks and balances in place to obstruct it.

Protesters hold signs reading "Not My King" behind people who have gathered for the arrival of Britain's King Charles III and Britain's Queen Consort Camilla for a visit to the Liverpool Central Library on April 26, 2023 to officially mark the Library's twinning with Ukraine's first public Library, the Regional Scientific Library in Odessa. (Photo by Jon Super / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JON SUPER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

It is telling that royalists so often reduce the argument to economic costs and benefits, as more serious arguments never favor the monarchy. They may say monarchy defends us against tyranny, but this is palpably false. Yet so are claims of economic gain which have been debunked. According to research by my organization, there is no profit from the monarchy, only cost.

Cost to our nation’s finances, certainly, but also to our democratic values and how our democracy plays out in practice.

A parliamentary republic by contrast would give us checks and balances, disperse power between government, parliament and people and an accountable head of state – one of us who can genuinely represent us.

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    Not running the government but guarding our constitution. It’s a model which works well across Europe, most notably in Ireland.

    So, when we shout “Not My King!” at Charles, it is a proud statement of democratic principle – that we recognise no person’s claim to be above us because of birth. Instead, we demand a democracy that celebrates our noblest principles and greatest endeavours.

    On May 6 it’s about saying very clearly, we want an election instead of a coronation, and a choice instead of Charles.