The Queen’s record in office has been one of failure according to a new pamphlet published today (25 April) by the campaign group Republic. The publication aims to challenge the notion that the Queen is “untouchable” and beyond criticism.
'60 Inglorious Years' 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”. Contrasting her contribution to public life with that of elected presidents, it makes a case for a head of state chosen by – and answerable to – the British people.
The book argues that “her survival strategy has been to do little, say less and sail through on a tide of public indifference supported by political complicity.
“An elected head of state could have contributed to the national debate and the national mood … by reflecting the feelings of ordinary people around the country. Instead we have a silent monarch, offering nothing but an empty space where an inspiring leader could be.”
The Queen is also accused of “blurring the line between national assets and private wealth” and displaying a “cavalier disregard for public money”.
The launch of the pamphlet comes as Republic prepares for a major anti-monarchy protest at the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June. Hundreds of republicans are expected to attend the protest on the south bank of the Thames by Tower Bridge.
Republic’s chief executive Graham Smith said today:
“We’re constantly told that the Queen is ‘untouchable’, that criticism of the Queen is the last taboo, but she’s flesh and blood like the rest of us and has a record in office that can be scrutinised and questioned.”
“We’re told that even republicans must accept without question that the Queen has ‘done a good job’ and ‘not put a foot wrong’. This kind of McCarthy-style silencing of dissent is unacceptable in a modern democracy.”
“We owe it to ourselves and to the country to have an intelligent and mature debate about exactly what kind of head of state she has been. We hope 60 Inglorious Years will get that debate started.”
“The way in which our media and politicians talk about the jubilee and the Queen makes no room for any sense of public accountability or scrutiny. The logic of the jubilee is simple: the Queen is a great monarch and so the monarchy is a great institution we must unquestioningly celebrate. That cannot go unchallenged.
“It is wrong that in a democratic society our free press and impartial media see criticism of the head of state as taboo. Elizabeth Windsor must be challenged on her record of the past 60 years.
“This is not just about criticising Elizabeth Windsor – it is about making the case that an unelected, unaccountable monarch simply cannot deliver what a democratic society should expect from its head of state.”
He concluded: “The case for an elected head of state isn’t just about principles, there are real consequences for the kind of leadership this country has. That’s why it’s so important to have an open and intelligent debate about the Queen’s record in office, a record that has so far gone unchallenged.”