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“Down with the Crown” Anti-Monarchists Disrupt King Charles III’s Birthday Parade

Despite torrential downpours, King Charles III’s highly choreographed official birthday parade proceeded successfully on Saturday, with Catherine, Princess of Wales, making a well-received partial return to public duties. However, a small band of anti-monarchists disrupted the event, booing the royals as they appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony and waving protest placards, much to the aggravation of royalists, told Barrons.

Graham Smith, head of the Republic pressure group that campaigns for an elected UK head of state, led the demonstrators. The group, brandishing yellow placards with slogans like “down with the crown,” rallied near the palace. “The monarchy is undemocratic, it’s corrupt,” Smith told AFP. “They misuse public office for personal gain, spending millions… on lifestyle, demanding secrecy, interfering in politics,” he added, reiterating his regular criticisms of the centuries-old British institution.

Republic, long a fringe group in the UK, claims to have gained momentum in its quest to persuade Britons to abolish the monarchy. The group has sought to capitalize on the end of Queen Elizabeth’s seven-decade reign — the biggest change to the monarchy in a generation — to advocate for reform. Since Charles’s ascension to the throne in September 2022, Republic’s standing has increased, now boasting 140,000 “supporters” and 10,000 paying members, according to Smith.

Smith stated in February that Charles’s recent cancer diagnosis would not deter his organization from its mission. Just weeks later, Kate, the Princess of Wales, revealed her own cancer diagnosis, prompting a wave of support from global leaders, family members, media, and the public.

Charles, 75, was cleared to resume public duties in April, with doctors “very encouraged” by his progress. Kate’s public appearance on Saturday, her first since last December, followed a statement on Friday that she was “making good progress” with her treatment, which is expected to continue for several more months. However, the 42-year-old princess added she was “not out of the woods yet.”

“I wish them all the best and hope they make a full recovery and it’s very good they are apparently better and well enough to come out today,” Smith said on Saturday. “But that doesn’t change the fact that they shouldn’t be… doing what they’re doing.”

Current polling indicates that senior royals currently have little to fear from Republic, with a wide margin preferring the monarchy over an elected head of state. However, support for the monarchy wanes among younger people, and Smith noted that overall backing for the institution has declined compared to levels during Elizabeth II’s record-breaking reign. Smith intends to campaign for a referendum on the issue during the next parliamentary term, a challenging endeavor with no leading UK-wide parties supporting his stance.

Unsurprisingly, flag-waving monarchy supporters at Saturday’s Trooping the Colour military parade marking Charles’ official birthday were unimpressed by the noisy Republic contingent. Cries of “not my king” were met with counter-cries of “God save the king” and “shut up” as the two camps exchanged heated words.

“I think it’s impertinent that they’re gathering so soon after the King’s cancer diagnosis,” said James Evans, a royalist attendee. “He’s trying his best to fulfill his obligations and his duties. And I gathered here to cheer him,” he added, vowing to “drown them out with our songs and our cheering.” Evans hoped the king would see that “there are more of us than them.”

Despite the opposition, Gordon Alexander, a 72-year-old Republic member, remained undeterred. “Britain doesn’t need to have a hereditary monarch as the head of state,” he told AFP. “It doesn’t make sense in this time we live in, and yet we still have a structure that allows one person or one family to have huge influence in the country.”

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