An alternative view of the royal union

  • Dipankar De Sarkar, Hindustan Times, London
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  • Updated: Apr 30, 2011 00:39 IST

Call them party-poopers, left-wingers or political iconoclasts, but not everybody in Britain is celebrating the royal wedding. The man speaking for them is high-profile human and gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, known for his attempts to make citizens arrests on visiting dictators from Zimbabwe and China.

“Britain should have an elected and accountable head of state, rather than a hereditary monarchy,” Tatchell said. “The prime minister can be questioned by the people, not the Queen.”

Tatchell says the monarchy sits uneasily in a democracy, with ossified rules of succession that prefer sons over daughters even if the daughter is the first-born child. There are moves to bring about changes to succession legislation but Tatchell says there are other problems with the monarchy: the fact that it is entirely white means a black or Asia person can never become British head of state.

“I find that deeply offensive,” he said. The presence of dictators or their representatives from countries such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland at the royal wedding has also angered rights campaigners.

An ICM poll in March showed that 79% of Britons are indifferent to the royal wedding. “This is an occasion to project UK Plc to the rest of the world,” said Tatchell, who attended an alternative Not the Royal Wedding street party in London, organised by Republicans.

 

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