On Tuesday, Colchester was visited by King Charles to celebrate its new city status, the unexpected visit caused mixed responses from the public with many flag-waving supporters but a substantial group of protestors too, booing and shouting “not my King”. Probably not the reception Charles and Camila were hoping for.
This visit surprised many of us, questioning why on earth they’d visit Colchester of all places, but I guess it was a better option than Ipswich. The mayor seemed thrilled to meet the King, telling him “words cannot describe how much it means to us that you are here”. They even coerced a clueless, young child into handing him a picture labelled “best king.” However this warm welcome was overshadowed by groups of protesters demanding that Charles “answer [his] critics”, questioning whether he believes in democracy, and asking what he is spending our taxes on. (valid)
The protesters were organised by the anti-monarchist group, Republic. Their goal is “to see the monarchy abolished and the King replaced with an elected, democratic head of state.” Since the death of Queen Elizabeth, the group has gained popularity, perhaps because the end of such a long era has increased the appeal of change. They also recognise that many people have been unimpressed by Charles’ ascension and are unwilling to respect him as easily as they previously did with the Queen, saying that he “has not inherited the respect and deference and sycophancy that the Queen enjoyed.” Their anti-monarchist sentiment is clear and shared by many across the country.
The controversy over maintaining a monarchy is understandable, especially since it costs us a lot of tax every year (£102.4 million in 2021-2022). Many royalists argue that this is made up by the £2 billion they bring into the country both through tourism and the significantly increased value of exported goods with a royal seal. However the purpose of a monarchy isn’t to be a tourist attraction or to make our food more expensive, not traditionally anyway. Do we really need to cling onto outdated institutions with such little purpose in governing the country, or is the financial benefit enough to justify keeping the monarchy?
While his visit may have been a nice surprise for many it has also reminded us of concerns about the monarchy and their place in England, so it’s certainly something to keep in mind.