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EDITIONS
Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
A bad time to be a republican?
Watching the procession in The Mall on Tuesday
Up to a million people crammed into central London
Jon Temple, who campaigns for an elected head of state, found the jubilee weekend trying. Not only a disheartening time for the cause, there was no escaping the crowds outside his central London flat.

To quote Bob Dylan, anyone with any sense had already left town.

Jon Temple
Jon Temple: "It was not a high point"
And for those of us of a republican persuasion, forced by circumstances to spend four days in a metropolis where disbelief had seemingly been suspended in favour of flags and deference, it was not a high point.

OK, we republicans enjoy a party as much as the next subject, and there's no doubt that a great number had a great time.

But anybody offering Queen, Paul McCartney, Clapton and the rest for free, in the middle of town, would have been hard pressed not to get trampled in the rush.

And we republicans don't live in a bubble - one is surrounded by friends and family members who don't entirely share our views. So on an occasion like this, one doesn't want to play the killjoy card, let alone gain anything from it.

Crowds pack into The Mall
If you celebrate, they will come
On Tuesday, my partner went off to watch the parades in The Mall - she's a supporter of the royals, although she does believe in the need for reform - while I went to a television debate on the state of the monarchy.

We walked part of the way together but once the crowds thickened I headed off on my own, feeling rather detached from the excitement around me.

And I did find it irritating that I couldn't meander around freely, what with the crowds and the pathways around Hyde Park Corner being barricaded off. Half the pleasure in living so close to London's parks is that they're half empty most of the time.

'Loosen up'

As there was no point in boycotting the celebrations completely, I did watch the big concert on TV.

Concorde and the Red Arrows leave coloured trails over London
Gathering for the Queen or for the spectacle?
The fireworks afterwards were without doubt impressive, even from a mile away, but there were the little things that said so much.

Why, for goodness sake, couldn't the Windsors take their suits and ties off for a pop concert, and stop looking so formal?

Charles's address to the crowd at the end just to thank everyone for the event needed a prompt sheet of A4 - hardly the proof of a lifetime's preparation for his mother's job.


Who's to say a president couldn't hold such a bash - and why wait 50 years?

And what about mum? Half a century of experience, a big party in her backyard, millions of pounds of taxpayers' money - let alone the tax breaks - and we didn't even get a word at the end.

She could for once have just said thanks to all those who turned up and turned on.

People's choice

Am I discouraged by the surge of enthusiasm for the Queen? Of course not.

The Queen on walkabout in Windsor
Everywhere she went, the people strained to see
I doubt that when all the flags and beer cans are swept away that the monarchy will have gained that much.

The audience was essentially self-selecting and who's to say a president couldn't hold such a bash? And why wait 50 years? With a presidential election every five years, couldn't we write a post-election celebration into the constitution and have someone as host who we'd chosen ourselves?

One thing I will say in favour of the jubilee, it has sparked a lot of interest in the republican movement. We had many calls in the run-up to the celebrations, and these don't look to be tailing off.


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25 Apr 02 | UK
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