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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Queen 'quizzed' on future of monarchy
The Queen with Tony Blair
The Queen and Mr Blair's meetings are being screened
The Queen is to be asked her views on the future of the monarchy as part of a study by a left-of-centre think-tank.

The Fabian Society suggests its Commission on the Future of the Monarchy will "pull no punches" in its recommendations.

It will not be considered taboo to discuss the possibility of abolishing the monarchy, according to the society's chairman, historian and Labour peer Professor Kenneth Morgan.


The government's nervousness on this subject is unsurprising, but this should not be allowed to stifle debate.

Michael Jacobs
Fabian Society general secretary
Its launch coincides with news that the Queen's private audiences with the prime minister are to be shown on TV.

The far-reaching review aims to find ways to help the monarchy meet the social and political needs of modern British society.

Prof Morgan said: "Once you establish the facts, inevitably questions will be thrown up and they may be of a fundamental nature."

Objective approach

The commission is made up of 10 leading figures, including former Clerk of the Parliaments Sir Michael Wheeler Booth, Labour MEP Claude Moraes and television production entreprenur and Labour peer Waheed Alli.

Prof Morgan said the panel would take a serious and objective look behind the headlines and was not starting with any entrenched views.

Controversial questions over who should succeed the Queen, and when, would not form part of the debate over the long-term future.

It will focus on the constitutional role of the monarch, the size of the civil list, the Queen's tax status and the monarchy's relationship with the Church of England.

Fabian Society general secretary Michael Jacobs, said the question of the head of state had remained taboo, despite other sweeping constitutional reforms.

"The government's nervousness on this subject is unsurprising, but this should not be allowed to stifle debate," he said.

Necessary changes

The launch of the commission, which had been postponed due to the death of the Queen Mother, comes after the Queen herself told parliament in her Golden Jubilee address, that the monarchy needed to adapt to modern realities.

Mr Jacobs said the Fabian Society, which wields some influence over the Labour Government, was keen to have input into the commission from the royal family.

But although Buckingham Palace had been informed of the review, no formal approaches had yet been made.

The Queen
Ten PMs have held office during the Queen's reign
Panel member Lord Alli said the monarchy was "crying out for change".

The commission, which will also look at the status and role of other countries' royal families and those with non-royal heads, is expected to report its findings next spring.

TV viewers in the UK will be given a rare glimpse of the Queen's meetings with the prime minister, in the fourth and final part of Queen and Country on BBC One on Thursday 23 May at 2100.

The programme, marking the Queen's Golden Jubilee, explores her relationship with 10 prime ministers during her 50-year reign.

See also:

24 Apr 02 | UK Politics
23 Apr 02 | UK
22 Apr 02 | Entertainment
26 Feb 02 | Entertainment
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