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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Republicanism routed or royalty's last hurrah?
The Queen waves to Jubilee crowds
Back on form, or a blip before reform?
Even republicans have grudgingly admitted the Golden Jubilee has been a coup for the Queen. But how far have the celebrations gone in securing the popularity of the monarchy?

The Silver Jubilee of 1977 wasn't without its critics, most notably the Sex Pistols - who conspiracy theorists still insist were swindled out of getting to number one in the hit parade with their irreverent single God Save The Queen.

The Sex Pistols outside Buckingham Palace in 1977
God Save The Queen, again
In 2002, a re-released version of the punk anthem only made it to number 15 in the UK chart - with no suggestion it had been nobbled. The Pistols' lead singer Johnny Rotten has also mellowed in his criticism of an institution which his song lyrics dubbed a "fascist regime".

"Get rid of a few of the useless ones and keep the goodies," the one-time republican firebrand said while promoting the re-mixed song.

Despite these good omens, many people - even inside the palace - feared that the Golden Jubilee celebrations would lack the lustre of the silver. But with millions lining The Mall and street parties across the UK, these fears look to have been unfounded.

Reasons to be cheerful

So have the weekend's festivities shown that those calling for the abolition of the monarchy are in danger of being drowned out by cheering crowds devoted to the Queen?

Even the Guardian, a newspaper with strong republican leanings, has admitted: "The golden jubilee may have given those of us who seek radical change in the way Britain is governed food for thought."

The Queen's golden coach
Will the coach turn into a pumpkin after the party?
But republicans shouldn't be too hasty in downing a serving of humble pie, says Jon Temple, organiser of Republic, a group which campaigns for an elected head of state.

"The Jubilee has generated a feel-good factor, but with most people enjoying a four-day holiday that is hardly surprising."

Mr Temple says that far from marginalising the debate about our constitutional monarchy, the jubilee has given those with republican views the opportunity to be heard.

Golden years

"The palace played the safest game by looking back at the past 50 years and appealing to the nostalgia vote. But even that has raised big questions. Britain now has fundamental different culture to the one we had in 1952 and yet we still have no choice in our head of state."

With the jubilee over, Mr Temple predicts that the future - rather than history - of the monarchy will return as focus of national debate, particularly as the Queen and her heir, Prince Charles, age.

The Coronation
Was the UK a different country in 1953?
Andrew Roberts, author of The House of Windsor, says republicans have been put firmly on the back foot and must reassess their views.

"With millions of people in The Mall, there's nothing much else the critics of the monarchy can do. They have taken the British pulse on this issue wrongly."

Mr Roberts says this is not a one-off show of public respect for the Queen and the institution she heads, the scenes national mourning which followed the death of the Queen Mother also "acted as a reminder that republicanism is the fetish of a minority".

Flagging popularity?

However, the Queen Mother's funeral and the Golden Jubilee were dwarfed by Princess Diana's death in 1997 - an event which saw the Queen besieged by critics.

"Your people are suffering. Speak to us Ma'am," asked the front page of The Mirror newspaper, as crowds gather outside an empty Buckingham Palace.

The palace flag at half-mast for Diana
The palace listened to criticism in 1997
"Where is our Queen? Where is her flag?" was the question posed by the even more belligerent Sun newspaper - as the palace's flag pole (then exclusively reserved for the royal standard) remained bare.

Mr Roberts says such PR glitches are of little lasting importance. "The editors have to sell papers and the flag proved to be a non-issue."

Indeed, these same tabloids have executed a volte-face following the Jubilee. "You reign with our love" says The Sun of the weekend's "astonishing show of love".


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