Republicanism in the United Kingdom is the political movement that seeks to replace the United Kingdom's monarchy with a republic. Supporters of the movement, called republicans, support alternative forms of governance to a monarchy, such as an elected head of state. Monarchy has been the form of government used in the United Kingdom and its predecessor domains almost exclusively since the Middle Ages, except for a brief interruption in the years 1649–1660, during which a republican government did exist under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell.

After Cromwell's Protectorate fell and the monarchy was restored, governing duties were increasingly handed to Parliament, especially with the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The adoption of the constitutional monarchy system made the argument for full republicanism less urgent. It was once again a topic of discussion during the late 18th century with the American Revolution, and grew more important with the French Revolution, when the concern was how to deal with the French Republic on their doorstep. This led to a widespread anti-republican movement in Britain, and the issue was dormant for a time.

Dissatisfaction with British rule led to a longer period of agitation in the early 19th century, with failed republican revolutions in Canada in the late 1830s and Ireland in 1848. This led to the Treason Felony Act in 1848, which made it illegal to advocate for republicanism. Another "significant incarnation" of republicanism broke out in the late 19th century, when Queen Victoria went into mourning and largely disappeared from public view after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. This led to questions about whether or not the institution should continue, with politicians speaking in support of abolition. This ended when Victoria returned to public duties later in the century, and regained significant public support.

More recently, in the early 21st century, increasing dissatisfaction with the House of Windsor, especially after the death of Elizabeth II in 2022, has led to public support for the monarchy reaching historical lows.[1][2][3]


In Britain, republican sentiment has largely focused on the abolition of the British monarchy, rather than the dissolution of the British Union or independence for its constituent countries. In Northern Ireland, the term "republican" is usually used in the sense of Irish republicanism. While also against the monarchy, Irish republicans are against the presence of the British state in any form on the island of Ireland and advocate creating a united Ireland, an all-island state comprising the whole of Ireland. Unionists who support a British republic also exist in Northern Ireland, but they do not call themselves republican.

There are republican members of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scotland and Plaid Cymru in Wales who advocate independence for those countries as republics. The SNP's official policy is that the British monarch would remain head of state of an independent Scotland, unless the people of Scotland decided otherwise.[4] Plaid Cymru have a similar view for Wales, although its youth wing, Plaid Ifanc, has an official policy advocating a Welsh republic.[5] The Scottish Socialist Party and the Scottish Greens both support an independent Scottish republic.[6][7][8]

Legal context

Advocacy of the replacement of the monarchy with a republic has long been an imprisonable offence in law. The Treason Felony Act 1848 prohibits the advocacy of a republic in print. The penalty for such advocacy, even if the republic is to be set up by peaceful means, is lifetime imprisonment. This Act remains in force in the United Kingdom.[9] However, under the Human Rights Act 1998, the Law Lords have held that although the Treason Felony Act remains on the statute books it must be interpreted so as to be compatible with the Human Rights Act, and therefore no longer prohibits peaceful republican activity.[10]


Since the 1650s, early modern English republicanism has been extensively studied by historians. James Harrington (1611–1677) is generally considered to be the most representative republican writer of the era.[11]

Commonwealth of England

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Main articles: Commonwealth of England, The Protectorate, and Interregnum (England)

See also: Wars of the Three Kingdoms

A Dutch satirical view of Cromwell as a usurper of monarchical power[citation needed]

The countries that now make up the United Kingdom, together with the Republic of Ireland, were briefly ruled as a republic in the 17th century, first under the Commonwealth consisting of the Rump Parliament and the Council of State (1649–1653) and then under the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell and later his son Richard (1658–1659), and finally under the restored Rump Parliament (1659–1660). The Commonwealth Parliament represented itself as a republic in the classical model, with John Milton writing an early defence of republicanism in the idiom of constitutional limits on a monarch's power.[citation needed] Cromwell's Protectorate was less ideologically republican and was seen by Cromwell as restoring the mixed constitution of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy found in classical literature and English common law discourse.[citation needed]

First, the Kingdom of England was declared to be the Commonwealth of England and then Scotland and Ireland were briefly forced into union with England by the army. Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax were often ruthless in putting down the mutinies which occurred within their own army towards the end of the civil wars (prompted by Parliament's failure to pay the troops). They showed little sympathy for the Levellers, an egalitarian movement which had contributed greatly[citation needed] to Parliament's cause, but sought representation for ordinary citizens. The Leveller point of view had been strongly represented in the Putney Debates, held between the various factions of the army in 1647, just prior to the king's temporary escape from army custody. Cromwell and the grandees were not prepared to permit such a radical democracy and used the debates to play for time while the future of the King was being determined. Catholics were persecuted zealously under Cromwell.[12] Although he personally was in favour of religious toleration – "liberty for tender consciences" – not all his compatriots agreed. The war led to much death and chaos in Ireland, where Irish Catholics and Protestants who fought for the Royalists were persecuted. There was a ban on many forms of entertainment, as public meetings could be used as a cover for conspirators; horse racing was banned, the maypoles were famously cut down, the theatres were closed, and Christmas celebrations were outlawed for being too ceremonial, Catholic, and "popish".[citation needed]

Much of Cromwell's power was due to the Rump Parliament, a Parliament purged of opposition to grandees in the New Model Army. Whereas Charles I had been in part restrained by a Parliament that would not always do as he wished (the cause of the civil war), Cromwell was able to wield much more power as only loyalists were allowed to become MPs, turning the chamber into a rubber-stamping organisation. This was ironic given his complaints about Charles I acting without heeding the "wishes" of the people. Even so, he found it almost impossible to get his Parliaments to follow all his wishes. His executive decisions were often thwarted, most famously in the ending of the rule of the regional major generals appointed by himself.[citation needed]

In 1657, Cromwell was offered the crown by Parliament, presenting him with a dilemma since he had played a great role in abolishing the monarchy. After two months of deliberation, he rejected the offer. Instead, he was ceremonially re-installed as Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland (Wales was a part of England), with greater powers than he had previously held. It is often suggested that offering Cromwell the crown was an effort to curb his power: as a king, he would be obliged to honour agreements such as Magna Carta, but under the arrangement he had designed he had no such restraints. This allowed him to preserve and enhance his power and the army's while decreasing Parliament's control over him, probably to enable him to maintain a well-funded army that Parliament could not be depended upon to provide. The office of Lord Protector was not formally hereditary, although Cromwell was able to nominate his own successor in his son, Richard.

A common argument against republicanism in Britain is that of the supposed failure of Cromwell when England was a republic. However, Republicans argue that this cannot be used as an argument against republicanism as it is nowhere near what a modern republic would be. In the time of Cromwell, the political system and powers of the head of state were very different to today. Most noticeably, if the UK was to be a republic today, it would most likely have a president with limited power who acts simply as a representative of the country much like the current monarch does.

Restoration of the monarchy

Although England, Scotland and Ireland became constitutional monarchies, after the reigns of Charles II and his brother James II and VII, and with the ascension of William III and Mary II to the English, Irish and Scottish thrones as a result of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, there have been movements throughout the last few centuries whose aims were to remove the monarchy and establish a republican system. A notable period was the time in the late 18th century and early 19th century when many Radicals such as the minister Joseph Fawcett were openly republican.[13]

American and French Revolutions

Thomas Paine (1737–1809): "One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings is that nature disproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an ass for a lion."[14]

The American Revolution had a great impact on political thought in Ireland and Britain. According to Christopher Hitchens, the British–American author, philosopher, politician and activist, Thomas Paine was the "moral author of the American Revolution", who posited in the soon widely read pamphlet Common Sense (January 1776) that the conflict of the Thirteen Colonies with the Hanoverian monarchy in London was best resolved by setting up a separate democratic republic.[15] To him, republicanism was more important than independence. However, the circumstances forced the American revolutionaries to give up any hope of reconciliation with Britain, and reforming its 'corrupt' monarchial government, that so often dragged the American colonies in its European wars, from within.[14] He and other British republican writers saw in the Declaration of Independence (4 July 1776) a legitimate struggle against the Crown, that violated people's freedom and rights, and denied them representation in politics.[16]

Main article: Revolution Controversy

When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, debates started in the British Isles on how to respond. Soon a pro-Revolutionary republican and anti-Revolutionary monarchist camp had established themselves among the intelligentsia, who waged a pamphlet war until 1795. Prominent figures of the republican camp were Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin and Paine.[17]

Paine would also play an important role inside the revolution in France as an elected member of the National Convention (1792–1793), where he lobbied for an invasion of Britain to establish a republic after the example of the United States, France and its sister republics, but also opposed the execution of Louis XVI, which got him arrested.[15] The First French Republic would indeed stage an expedition to Ireland in December 1796 to help the Society of United Irishmen set up an Irish republic to destabilise the United Kingdom, but this ended in a failure. The subsequent Irish Rebellion of 1798 was suppressed by forces of the British Crown. Napoleon also planned an invasion of Britain since 1798 and more seriously since 1803, but in 1804 he relinquished republicanism by crowning himself Emperor of the French and converting all Sister Republics into client kingdoms of the French Empire, before calling off the invasion of Britain altogether in 1805.[citation needed]

Revolutionary republicanism, 1800–1848

The British republican flag, which originated in 1816, in use until at least 1935[18]
The Republican tricolour proposed by Hugh Williams and described in LJ Linton "Spartacus" "Our Tricolour" 1851 poem

From the start of the French Revolution into the early 19th century, the revolutionary blue-white-red tricolour was used throughout England, Wales and Ireland in defiance of the royal establishment. During the 1816 Spa Fields riots, a green, white and red horizontal flag appeared for the first time, soon followed by a red, white and green horizontal version allegedly in use during the 1817 Pentrich rising and the 1819 Peterloo massacre. The latter is now associated with Hungary, but then it became known as the British Republican Flag. It may have been inspired by the French revolutionary tricolour, but this is unclear. It was however often accompanied by slogans consisting of three words such as "Fraternity – Liberty – Humanity" (a clear reference to Liberté, égalité, fraternité), and adopted by the Chartist movement in the 1830s.[18]

Besides these skirmishes in Great Britain itself, separatist republican revolutions against the British monarchy during the Canadian Rebellions of 1837–1838 and the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848 failed.

Parliament passed the Treason Felony Act in 1848. This act made advocacy of republicanism punishable by transportation to Australia, which was later amended to life imprisonment. The law is still on the statute books; however in a 2003 case, the Law Lords stated that "It is plain as a pike staff to the respondents and everyone else that no one who advocates the peaceful abolition of the monarchy and its replacement by a republican form of government is at any risk of prosecution", for the reason that the Human Rights Act 1998 would require the 1848 Act to be interpreted in such a way as to render such conduct non-criminal.[19]

Late 19th century

During the later years of Queen Victoria's reign, there was considerable criticism of her decision to withdraw from public life following the death of her husband, Prince Albert. This resulted in a "significant incarnation" of republicanism.[20] During the 1870s, calls for Britain to become a republic on the American or French model were made by the politicians Charles Dilke[21] and Charles Bradlaugh, as well as journalist George W. M. Reynolds.[20] This was also an era in which British republicans supported Irish republicans and in which the Irish Home Rule movement had advocates in England and Scotland within the context of loyal opposition. The British republican presence continued in debates and the Labour press, especially in the event of royal weddings, jubilees and births, until well into the Interwar period.[20]

Some members of the Labour Party, such as Keir Hardie (1856–1915), also held republican views.[22]

20th-century republicanism

In 1923, at the annual Labour Party Conference, two motions were proposed, supported by Ernest Thurtle and Emrys Hughes. The first was "that the Royal Family is no longer a necessary party of the British constitution", and the second was "that the hereditary principle in the British Constitution be abolished".[23] George Lansbury responded that, although he too was a republican, he regarded the issue of the monarchy as a "distraction" from more important issues. Lansbury added that he believed the "social revolution" would eventually remove the monarchy peacefully in the future. Both of the motions were overwhelmingly defeated.[23][24][25] Following this event, most of the Labour Party moved away from advocating republican views.[23]

Following the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936, MP James Maxton proposed a "republican amendment" to the Abdication Bill, which would have established a Republic in Britain. Maxton argued that while the monarchy had benefited Britain in the past, it had now "outlived its usefulness". Five MPs voted to support the bill, including Alfred Salter. However, the bill was defeated by 403 votes.[26][27] It was not until 1937 that the first British polling company was established, but questions about retaining the monarchy do not appear to have been asked by any such organisation until some years later.[28]

The monarchy's survival has been, and will be, ultimately dependent on the public's respect and belief that there is a value in its existence. In fact, the public seem to have consistently supported it, often greatly valued and cherished it, and the monarchy has not merely survived but flourished.

Yet until a very recent period, this has amounted to no more than a generally held belief: direct measurements of opinion have been rare. Britain has had no referendum on the monarchy, nor a general election in which it was an issue between the major parties; nor, until the 1990s, did it have even semi-regular opinion polls to test whether the people wished to retain the monarchy or would prefer a republic. The reason is perhaps understandable: the broad majority of support was so obvious that there was felt to be little value in measuring it. The opposing minority perhaps saw nothing to be gained by testing their strength. But the result is a frustrating paucity of solid evidence about what ordinary Britons thought about the institution and the royal family until a comparatively recent date.

Roger Mortimore, "Measuring British Public Opinion on the Monarchy and the Royal Family" in The Windsor Dynasty 1910 to the Present[28]

As noted by Roger Mortimore, "the oldest continuing trend series on the straight-choice, monarchy-or-republic, question began only in 1993." He adds, "it seems not to have been until 1966 that any client took the plunge by commissioning a poll directly measuring support for the monarchy." According to Mortimore, this "was commissioned for a Panorama programme to mark Prince Charles's eighteenth birthday, and the poll found that 'about a sixth of the British people think they would like to see the monarchy abolished'. Three Gallup polls in the early and mid-1970s showed support for the status quo significantly higher than this, although they may have tilted the balance in the monarchy's favour by stating the alternative as 'a President, as they have in America and some European countries' at a period when the public standing of the American presidency in Britain cannot have been at its highest."[28]

Willie Hamilton, a republican Scottish Labour MP who served from 1950 to 1987, was known for his outspoken anti-royal views. He discussed these at length in his 1975 book My Queen and I.[29] However, all available evidence suggests that his view remained one shared by a small minority of Britons for most of his time in Parliament. In Crown and People (1978), royal historian Philip Ziegler summarised public opinion on the monarchy in the quarter-century between Elizabeth II's accession to the throne and her Silver Jubilee in 1977: "In the years after 1953 Britain entered the age of the psephologist. More and more often allegedly representative cross-sections of the British people found themselves interrogated about their views on abortion, religion, washing-machines, national politics or pornographic films." He notes that on thirteen occasions between 1953 and 1976, via varying questions, the public were asked whether they would prefer Britain to continue with a monarchical form of government or for the country to become a republic. Ziegler lists the proportions favouring a republic as 9% in 1953; 10% in 1956 (in a Mass Observation Survey); 14% in 1958 (Mass Observation Survey); 10% in 1960 (Mass Observation Survey); 16% in 1964 (Mass Observation Survey); 10% in July 1969 (National Opinion Polls); 16% in October 1969 (NOP); 10% in October 1970; 19% in June 1971 (NOP); 12% in January 1972 (Gallup); 11% in May 1973 (Gallup); 8% in February 1976 (Gallup); 10% in May 1976 (Gallup). The television film Royal Family was first shown in 1969 and watched by a large audience, which may account for the increased interest in the period following its broadcast.[30]

Various questions have been asked by opinion polling companies: in the July 1969 survey by NOP, respondents were asked "In your opinion is the Monarchy a good thing or a bad thing for Britain?" 88% approved, with only 5% disapproving.[31] In October that year, the question NOP asked was "Do you think that Britain needs the Queen or not?" 84% answered "Yes", and 16% said "No". Over one in five of those aged 34 and under felt that Britain did not need the Queen (Elizabeth II).[32] The same question was asked by NOP in June 1971.[33] In May 1986, NOP stated that "Nine out of ten people think the monarchy should continue in Britain and only 7% believe it should be abolished."[34]

Tony Benn in 2007

The pressure group Republic, which campaigns for a republic in the United Kingdom, was formed in 1983.[35] In 1991, Labour MP Tony Benn introduced the Commonwealth of Britain Bill, which called for the transformation of the United Kingdom into a "democratic, federal and secular Commonwealth of Britain", with an elected president.[36] The monarchy would be abolished and replaced by a republic with a written constitution. It was read in Parliament a number of times until his retirement at the 2001 election, but never achieved a second reading.[37] Benn presented an account of his proposal in Common Sense: A New Constitution for Britain.[38]

In January 1997, ITV broadcast a live television debate Monarchy: The Nation Decides, in which 2.5 million viewers voted on the question "Do you want a monarch?" by telephone. Speaking for the republican view were Professor Stephen Haseler, (chairman of Republic), agony aunt Claire Rayner, Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West and Andrew Neil, then the former editor of The Sunday Times. Those in favour of the monarchy included author Frederick Forsyth, Bernie Grant, Labour MP for Tottenham, and Jeffrey Archer, former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. Conservative MP Steven Norris was scheduled to appear in a discussion towards the end of the programme, but officials from Carlton Television said he had left without explanation. The debate was conducted in front of an audience of 3,000 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, with the telephone poll result being that 66% of voters wanted a monarch, and 34% did not.[39]

At the annual State Opening of Parliament, MPs are summoned to the House of Lords for the Queen's Speech. From the 1990s until the 2010s, republican MP Dennis Skinner regularly made a retort to Black Rod, the official who commands the House of Commons to attend the speech.[40] Skinner had previously remained in the Commons for the speech.[41]

Polling results suggest that a large majority of Britons were in favour of the monarchy during the 1990s and 2000s, with support mostly ranging from 70% to 74%, and never falling below 65%.

21st-century republicanism

MORI polls in the opening years of the 21st century showed that over 70% of the public supported retaining the monarchy, but in 2005, at the time of the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, support for the monarchy dipped, with one poll showing that 65% of people would support keeping the monarchy if there were a referendum on the issue, and 22% saying they favoured a republic.[42] In a 2006 feature marking the Queen's 80th birthday, Time magazine quoted MORI founder Robert Worcester on this issue, who called it "the most stable measure in British polling".[43]

In 2009, an ICM poll, commissioned by the BBC, found that 76% of those asked wanted the monarchy to continue after the reign of the Queen, while 18% of people said they would favour Britain becoming a republic, and 6% said they did not know.[44]

Support for the monarchy appeared to strengthen in the early to mid-2010s, when the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, and her grandson, who was second in line to the throne, got married in a ceremony broadcast on live television; both events were marked by public bank holidays. Most polls during this period suggesting that between 75% and 80% (and all suggesting at least 69%) of the public were in favour of the monarchy. In February 2011, a YouGov poll put support for ending the monarchy after the Queen's death at 13%, if Prince Charles became king.[45]

However, an ICM poll shortly before the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on 29 April 2011 suggested that 26% thought Britain would be better off without the monarchy, with only 37% "genuinely interested and excited" by the wedding.[46] The same month, an Ipsos MORI poll of 1,000 British adults found that 75% of the public would like Britain to remain a monarchy, with 18% in favour of Britain becoming a republic.[42]

In May 2012, in the lead up to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, an Ipsos MORI poll of 1,006 British adults found that 80% were in favour of the monarchy, with 13% in favour of the United Kingdom becoming a republic. This was thought to be a record-high figure in recent years in favour of the monarchy.[42]

Jeremy Corbyn, a Labour MP with republican views, won his party's leadership election in September 2015, thus becoming Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party. In 1991, Corbyn had seconded the Commonwealth of Britain Bill.[36] However, Corbyn stated during his 2015 campaign for the leadership that republicanism was "not a battle that I am fighting".[47][48]

At the swearing of oaths in the Commons following the 2017 general election, Republic reported that several MPs had prefixed their parliamentary oath of allegiance with broadly republican sentiments, such as a statement referring to their constituents, rather than the Queen. If an MP does not take the oath or the affirmation to the monarch, they will not be able to take part in parliamentary proceedings or paid any salary and allowances until they have done so. Such MPs included Richard Burgon, Laura Pidcock, Dennis Skinner, Chris Williamson, Paul Flynn, Jeff Smith, and Emma Dent Coad. Roger Godsiff and Alex Sobel also expressed sympathy for an oath to their constituents.[49]

See also: Prince Andrew, Duke of York § Allegations of sexual abuse

The level of support for the monarchy has declined in recent years. As of 2024, the last published poll in which over 70% favoured the monarchy was in 2019. The proportion favouring a republic has slightly increased at the same time, but has consistently remained a less popular position than maintaining the monarchy. Support for republicanism in Britain has ranged from 13% to 34% since the 1990s, with the figure generally remaining above 20% in the early 2020s. The monarchy is somewhat less popular among Black British groups, British Asians, and younger Britons (those under 35); these demographic groups are generally more in favour of a republic.

In May 2021, a YouGov poll showed reduced support for the monarchy, with 61% in favour and 24% against among all over-18s; there was a particularly high rise in republican views and an overall plurality for its replacement with an elected head of state in the 18–24 age group (41%–31%).[50] The poll also suggested significant reductions in support for the monarchy in 25–49-year olds, and a slight fall in support among over 65s.

In May 2022, ahead of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, another YouGov poll showed that only 31% of 18–24-year olds were in favour of the monarchy, compared to 66% of the population as a whole.[51] Four months later, in the wake of the Queen's death, this figure stood firm at 67%.[52] However, it has not reached this level since then, and two Savanta polls since King Charles III succeeded his mother have shown support for a republic at over 30%. Aside from a 2022 Byline Times poll (which did not include "Don't know" as an option), these are the first opinion poll results to give figures of over 30% in favour of a republic.[53][54]

In April 2023, YouGov polling found that less than one third of 18 to 24-year-olds were in favour of the monarchy, compared to 78% of over-65s.[55][56] The anti-monarchy campaign group Republic reported a doubling of its membership since the Coronation of King Charles III that May, whilst its income had substantially increased. Commenting in November that year, chief executive Graham Smith said, "In 2020, our income was £106,000. It was £172,000 the next year; last year it was £286,000. On the death of the queen, we had £70,000 in donations that month. This year, income is hitting £560,000."[57]

In a January 2024 poll conducted by Savanta, support for the monarchy stood at 48%, when respondents were asked "What would you prefer for the UK, a monarchy or an elected head of state?". This was the first time the figure preferring a monarchy had been below 50% since published opinion polling on the topic had begun.[58]


Protests against the monarchy of King Charles III have expressed and included blank pieces of paper, heckling during royal processions involving Prince Andrew, and egging attempts.[59][60][61][62]

A major protest was planned by Republic for the Coronation of King Charles III in May 2023. However, on the day of the event, Republic CEO Graham Smith and five others were arrested by police. They were held for over 15 hours, before being released.[63][64]

The Metropolitan Police later expressed "regret" over these arrests, and confirmed that no further action would be taken.[65] This was in spite of Republic having been in discussion with the police about the protests for months beforehand.[66]

Human Rights Watch UK director Yasmine Ahmed said, "This is something you would expect to see in Moscow, not London." Hundreds of protesters assembled in central London that day; it was also reported that 300 people had gathered in Cardiff to protest.[67]

A subsequent ceremony in Edinburgh marking the coronation was targeted by republican protesters, led by Patrick Harvie, the co-leader of Scottish Greens and a Scottish Government minister.[68] Chants of "not my king" could be heard inside the venue for the event, which took place in July 2023.[69]

In September 2023, republican activists staged what was called the "first-ever" protest inside Buckingham Palace. In a photo released by Republic, protestors wore T-shirts spelling out "Not My King." In a statement, Republic said "The protest is the latest in a series of actions aimed at pushing forward the debate about the future of the monarchy". They said that six of the activists had been briefly detained by security, before being escorted out of the front gate.[70]

The State Opening of Parliament in November 2023, the first by a king in over 70 years, was also met with protests by republicans, who booed King Charles as he arrived. It was later reported that Charles had waved to them from his carriage.[71][72]

Supporters of republicanism in the United Kingdom

Further information: List of British republicans

A number of prominent individuals in the United Kingdom advocate republicanism.

Political parties

As of 2023, the Green Party of England and Wales, with one MP in Parliament since 2010, has an official policy of republicanism.[73] The Scottish Greens, with eight MSPs in the 2021–2026 Scottish Parliament, support having an elected head of state in an independent Scotland.[74] The Irish republican party Sinn Féin has seven MPs, but they do not take their UK parliamentary seats as a rejection of UK authority in Northern Ireland.[75]

The Labour Party, the Conservative Party, and the Liberal Democrats do not have an official policy of republicanism. The Scottish National Party, which supports Scottish independence, also does not have an official policy of republicanism, and instead favours making a decision on the head of state of an independent Scotland only after independence is attained in itself.

A Labour for a Republic sign at a demonstration against the coronation of Charles III and Camilla on 6 May 2023

Labour for a Republic is a republican pressure group of Labour Party members and supporters,[76] founded by Labour activist Ken Ritchie in May 2011. It held its first meeting in 2012.[77][78] It has since held meetings, other informal meetings, and appeared in the media on a few occasions. As of September 2022, its chairman is Nick Wall.[79] The organisation held an event at the Labour Party's annual conference on 25 September 2022, which attracted large crowds, and included The Guardian's columnist Polly Toynbee, author Paul Richards, and expert in constitutional law Dr Adam Tucker as panellists.[79]

In response to the Labour Party's decision to sing "God Save the King" at the conference, panellists and those who attended the event said they did not want to see it booed or heckled. It was reported that the singing was not disrupted, and that the minute of silence for the recent death of Elizabeth II was observed without failure.[79] In 2023, the Labour Party added pro-republic campaign group Republic to a list of organisations which local party branches were no longer able to affiliate with.[80]

It is rare for a high-profile British politician to identify with republicanism, even among those who campaigned for a republic earlier in their careers. Former UK prime minister Liz Truss was an advocate of republicanism prior to becoming a Conservative MP.[81] Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer was, at an earlier time in his career, also on record as a republican, but no longer identifies as one.[82] His predecessor as Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, although an avowed left-winger, also stressed that his personal support for republicanism would not influence his policy agenda.[83] The former First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party from March 2023 to May 2024, Humza Yousaf, is a republican.[84]


Main article: Republic (pressure group)

The largest[citation needed] lobby group in favour of republicanism in the United Kingdom is the Republic campaign group, founded in 1983. The group has benefited from occasional negative publicity about the Royal Family, and Republic reported a large rise in membership following the wedding of then-Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles. Republic has lobbied on changes to the parliamentary oath of allegiance, royal finances and changes to the Freedom of Information Act relating to the monarchy, none of which have produced any change. However, Republic has been invited to Parliament to talk as witnesses on certain issues related to the monarchy, such as conduct of the honours system in the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

In 2009, Republic made news[85] by reporting Prince Charles's architecture charity to the Charity Commission, claiming that the Prince was effectively using the organisation as a private lobbying firm (the Commission declined to take the matter further). Republic has previously broken stories about royals using the Freedom of Information Act.[citation needed]


Newspapers and magazines such as The Guardian, The Observer, The Economist and The Independent have all advocated the abolition of the monarchy.[86][87] In the wake of the 2009 MPs' expenses scandal, a poll of readers of The Guardian and The Observer placed support for abolition of the monarchy at 54%, although only 3% saw it as a top priority.[88] The online magazine Spiked also supports republicanism.[89]

Opinion polling

See also: Scottish republicanism and Welsh republicanism

British Social Attitudes survey

The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) has collected survey data on public attitudes towards the UK's Monarchy since 1983, when the British Social Attitudes Survey first asked about this, with the question "How important or unimportant do you think it is for Britain to continue to have a monarchy: very important, quite important, not very important, not at all important, or, do you think the monarchy should be abolished?" Results for the latter answer between 1983 and 2012 ranged from 3% to 11%.[28]

Since then, the results suggest a long-term decline in support for the institution, with 2023 survey data showing the number of people who said it was "very important" falling to 29%, an all-time low.[90]

Graphical summary

The chart below shows opinion polls conducted about whether the United Kingdom should become a republic. The trend lines are local regressions (LOESS).

Poll results

The following table includes all known published polls in which the general public in the UK or Great Britain are asked for their preference on the future of the monarchy. Generally, the question revolves around whether they support the continuation of the monarchy or its abolition (regardless of a republic being specified). The question has been framed in different ways: some polling companies have asked whether respondents prefer a monarchy or an elected head of state.

Pollster Client Sample
Monarchy Republic Undecided[a] Lead
26–29 Apr 2024 Ipsos The Mail on Sunday 2,166 60% 28% 8% 32%
1–4 Mar 2024 Savanta Republic 2,256 53% 33%[b] 13% 20%
15–16 Jan 2024 YouGov Republic 2,089 45% 31%[b] 24% 14%
5–8 Jan 2024 Savanta Republic 2,281 48% 32%[b] 20% 16%
24–26 Nov 2023 Savanta Republic 2,283 60% 29% 12% 31%
52% 34%[b] 13% 18%
6–12 Sep 2023 Ipsos N/A 1,006 66% 25% 9% 41%
26–28 Aug 2023 YouGov N/A 2,020 62% 26% 11% 36%
10–16 May 2023 Ipsos N/A 1,006 62% 28% 10% 34%
10–12 May 2023 Opinium The Observer 2,050 60% 25% 15% 35%
6–8 May 2023 Coronation of King Charles III and bank holiday weekend
3–4 May 2023 BMG i (newspaper) 1,534 52% 23% 25% 29%
28 Apr2 May 2023 Savanta Republic 2,274 57% 30%[b] 13% 27%
28–30 Apr 2023 Savanta Yahoo! News 2,274 57% 29% 14% 28%
26–27 Apr 2023 YouGov The Times 2,111 60% 26% 15% 34%
25–26 Apr 2023 YouGov N/A 2,030 62% 25% 12% 37%
24–25 Apr 2023 Find Out Now Electoral Calculus 2,211 54% 20% 26% 34%
21–23 Apr 2023 Savanta ITV News 2,181 53% 19% 28% 34%
14–17 Apr 2023 YouGov Panorama (BBC) 4,592 58% 26% 16% 32%
22–29 Mar 2023 Ipsos N/A 1,004 65% 25% 10% 40%
6 Feb – 23 Mar 2023 Lord Ashcroft Polls N/A 10,294[c] 56% 23% 22% 33%
18–20 Mar 2023 YouGov N/A 1,983 61% 24% 15% 37%
25 Jan15 Feb 2023 Find Out Now / Electoral Calculus Property Chronicle 1,030 55%[d] 23% 22% 32%
18–25 Jan 2023 Ipsos N/A 1,001 64% 22% 13% 42%
12–16 Jan 2023 Deltapoll N/A 1,059 63% 23% 14% 40%
10–11 Jan 2023 YouGov N/A 1,691 64% 23% 13% 41%
5–6 Jan 2023 Savanta Sunday Express 2,124 55% 33% 13% 22%
14–15 Dec 2022 YouGov Republic 1,690 60% 25% 15% 35%
9–11 Dec 2022 Savanta N/A 2,250 55% 31% 14% 24%
21–22 Sep 2022 JL Partners The Sun on Sunday 2,010 66% 25% 9% 41%
13–14 Sep 2022 YouGov N/A 1,710 67% 20% 13% 47%
13 Sep 2022 People Polling GB News 1,245 63% 19% 19% 44%
11–12 Sep 2022 YouGov The Times 1,727 64% 21% 15% 43%
8 Sep 2022 Charles III accedes to the throne following the death of his mother[91]
14–15 Jun 2022 YouGov Republic 1,678 61% 24% 15% 37%
2–5 Jun 2022 Bank holiday weekend celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II
30–31 May 2022 Omnisis Byline Times 1,026 66% 34% 32%
27–29 May 2022 Savanta ComRes N/A 2,177 57% 29% 14% 28%
27 May 2022 Ipsos N/A 1,013 68% 22% 10% 46%
16–17 May 2022 YouGov N/A 1,669 62% 22% 16% 40%
30 Apr2 May 2022 YouGov N/A 1,754 60% 27% 13% 33%
29–30 Mar 2022 YouGov N/A ? 59% 24% 17% 35%
28 Feb7 Mar 2022 Focaldata British Future 2,006 58% 25% 17% 33%
16–17 Feb 2022 YouGov N/A ? 61% 24% 15% 37%
19–24 Nov 2021 Ipsos MORI N/A 1,005 60% 21% 19% 39%
29 Jul 2021 Redfield & Wilton Strategies New Statesman 1,500 53% 18% 23% 35%
6–7 May 2021 YouGov N/A ? 62% 23% 15% 39%
21–22 Apr 2021 YouGov The Times 1,730 63% 20% 16% 43%
9 Apr 2021 Death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
19–30 Mar 2021 Find Out Now Electoral Calculus 2,500 56% 20% 24% 36%
15–16 Mar 2021 YouGov ? 61% 24% 15% 37%
12–15 Mar 2021 YouGov ? 61% 25% 14% 36%
11–12 Mar 2021 Opinium The Observer 2,001 55% 29% 17% 26%
11–12 Mar 2021 YouGov ? 62% 22% 15% 40%
9–10 Mar 2021 Survation Sunday Mirror 958 55% 29% 16% 26%
9 Mar 2021 JL Partners Daily Mail 1,056 50% 29% 21% 21%
8–9 Mar 2021 YouGov N/A 1,672 63% 25% 12% 38%
8 Mar 2021 UK broadcast of television interview programme Oprah with Meghan and Harry
2–4 Oct 2020 YouGov N/A 1,626 67% 21% 12% 46%
5–6 Mar 2020 YouGov ? 63% 23% 14% 40%
18 Feb 2020 YouGov N/A 3,142 62% 22% 16% 40%
9–11 Jan 2020 Deltapoll The Mail on Sunday 1,055 59% 20% 21% 39%
21–22 Nov 2019 YouGov The Sunday Times 1,677 63% 19% 17% 44%
19–20 Nov 2019 YouGov ? 63% 22% 15% 41%
2–3 Oct 2019 YouGov ? 70% 18% 13% 52%
24–25 Apr 2019 YouGov ? 64% 21% 15% 43%
19 May 2019 Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
8–9 May 2018 YouGov ? 66% 18% 16% 48%
13–16 Feb 2016 Ipsos MORI King's College London 1,000 76% 17% 7% 59%
3–4 Sep 2015 YouGov N/A 1,579 71% 18% 11% 53%
8–9 Apr 2015 ComRes Daily Mail 2,020 70% 19% 11% 51%
25–26 Jul 2013 YouGov N/A ? 75% 17% 8% 58%
13–15 Jul 2013 Ipsos MORI N/A 1,000 77% 17% 6% 60%
10–13 Nov 2012 Ipsos MORI King's College London 1,014 79% 16% 5% 63%
9–11 Jun 2012 Ipsos MORI N/A 1,016 77% 15% 8% 62%
7–8 Jun 2012 YouGov The Sunday Times 1,667 75% 15% 10% 60%
2–5 Jun 2012 Bank holiday weekend commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II
31 May1 Jun 2012 YouGov N/A ? 73% 18% 9% 55%
27–28 May 2012 YouGov N/A 1,743 73% 16% 11% 57%
25–28 May 2012 Populus N/A 2,056 82% 18% 64%
17–18 May 2012 Survation Daily Star Sunday 1,003 71% 21% 8% 50%
12–14 May 2012 Ipsos MORI Evening Standard 1,006 80% 13% 6% 67%
15–17 May 2011 MORI Reuters 1,000 75% 18% 7% 57%
29 Apr 2011 Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton
26–27 Apr 2011 YouGov Cambridge University ? 69% 20% 11% 49%
15–17 Apr 2011 Ipsos MORI Reuters 1,000 75% 18% 7% 57%
1–3 Apr 2011 Populus N/A 1,002 77% 23% 54%
20–23 Aug 2010 Populus N/A 1,037 77% 23% 54%
6–8 Feb 2009 ICM Research Politics Show (BBC) 1,017 69% 24% 8% 45%
14–16 Dec 2007 Populus Discovery Channel[92] 1,004 76% 16% 8% 60%
20–22 Apr 2006 Ipsos MORI The Sun 1,006 72% 18% 10% 54%
7–9 Apr 2005 MORI The Observer/Sunday Mirror 1,004 65% 22% 13% 43%
7–11 Jan 2005 Populus The Sun 1,503 82% 18% 64%
83% 17%[e] 66%
23–25 Apr 2004 MORI N/A c. 1000[f] 71% 20% 10% 51%
1–4 Jun 2002 Golden Jubilee Weekend to mark the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II
24–26 May 2002 MORI Tonight with Trevor McDonald 1,002[f] 74% 19% 7% 55%
1–3 Feb 2002 MORI N/A ?[f] 71% 19% 10% 52%
14–16 Dec 2001 MORI N/A 1,000[f] 70% 21% 9% 49%
10–12 Apr 2001 MORI Daily Mail 1,003 70% 19% 11% 51%
5–6 Apr 2001 MORI The Mail on Sunday 814 71% 20% 9% 51%
29 Dec 2000 MORI The Mail on Sunday 504 73% 15% 12% 58%
13–15 Dec 2000 MORI News of the World 621 72% 21% 7% 51%
8–9 Jun 2000 MORI Sunday Telegraph 621 70% 19% 11% 51%
Jun 2000 Gallup[g][93] ? ? 87% 11% 3% 76%
8–10 Nov 1999 MORI Daily Mail 1,019 74% 16% 10% 58%
15–16 Jun 1999 MORI The Sun 806 74% 16% 10% 58%
5–6 Nov 1998 MORI Daily Mail/GMTV 1,019 73% 18% 9% 55%
Nov 1998 Gallup[g][93] ? ? 87% 12% 0% 75%
23–24 Oct 1998 MORI The Sun 600 74% 16% 10% 58%
18–20 Aug 1998 MORI The Mail on Sunday 804 75% 16% 9% 59%
17–18 Aug 1998 ICM Research N/A 500 74% 17% 9% 57%
5–8 Mar 1998 MORI The Sun 1,000 74% 19% 7% 55%
6–7 Sep 1997 MORI The Sun 602 73% 18% 9% 55%
Sep 1997 Gallup[g][93] ? ? 87% 11% 2% 76%
31 Aug 1997 Death of Diana, Princess of Wales
Nov 1996 Gallup[g][93] ? ? 81% 16% 3% 65%
Mar 1996 Gallup[g][93] ? ? 79% 17% 4% 62%
Nov 1995 Gallup[g][93] ? ? 80% 15% 5% 65%
Oct 1995 Gallup[g][93] ? ? 82% 13% 6% 69%
28–29 Dec 1994 MORI ? ? 73% 17% 10% 56%
Sep 1994 Gallup[g][93] ? ? 85% 12% 3% 73%
7–12 Jan 1994 MORI ? ? 71% 20% 10% 51%
Nov 1993 Gallup[g][93] ? ? 86% 10% 4% 76%
Jun 1993 Gallup[g][93] ? ? 85% 11% 4% 74%
22–26 Apr 1993 MORI[94] The Sunday Age (Australia) 1,029 69% 18% 14% 51%
28 Jan2 Feb 1993 Gallup[93][95][96] The Daily Telegraph 989 89%[g] 9% 2% 80%
11 Dec 1992 Gallup The Sunday Telegraph 620 59% 24% 17% 35%
Dec 1992 Gallup[g][93] ? ? 85% 13% 2% 72%


  1. ^ Including don't know, would not vote, refused to answer
  2. ^ a b c d e Question asked whether respondents prefer a monarchy or an elected head of state for the UK.
  3. ^ The survey also allowed respondents to choose "I would not vote"; 9% of the base selected this option, and 13% chose "Don't know".
  4. ^ Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statements "Do you agree or disagree that the British Monarchy should be abolished?" and "Do you agree or disagree that the British Monarchy should be kept?"; the results of the two questions were then averaged.
  5. ^ Respondents were also asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement "The Royal Family should be replaced by an elected President".
  6. ^ a b c d GB residents aged 16 and over
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Q: "Which of these statements comes closest to your own view?"
    "The Monarchy and the Royal Family should stay pretty much as they are now"
    "The Monarchy and the Royal Family should continue to exist but should become more democratic and approachable, rather like the Monarchy and Royal Family in the Netherlands"
    "The Monarchy should be abolished and replaced by a non-executive figurehead president like the ones they have in some continental countries"

By age

March 2024 poll[97]
Age group 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
Elected Head of State 46% 44% 38% 29% 31% 18%
Monarchy 31% 38% 45% 58% 58% 77%
Don't know 22% 19% 17% 12% 11% 4%


This article may be unbalanced toward certain viewpoints. Please improve the article by adding information on neglected viewpoints, or discuss the issue on the talk page. (December 2023)

The public debate around republicanism has centred around the core republican argument that a republic is more democratic and compatible with the notion of popular sovereignty. The advocacy group Republic argues that:

The monarchy is an unaccountable, expensive and outdated institution, it is unrepresentative of modern Britain, and it also gives politicians significant unchecked powers. It does this is in a variety of ways:

The primarily anti-republican defence is that there is nothing in a republic that is inherently more democratic compared to a constitutional monarchy, as both forms of government are based on parliamentarianism and constitutionalism, and that traditional institutions have confirmed the citizens as sovereign beings.[clarification needed] It has been previously thought, mainly during the Victorian period that the UK is already essentially a republic, and the phrase 'crowned republic' has been used to refer it accordingly.[101]

In favour of a republic

It is further argued that monarchy contradicts democracy insofar it denies the people a basic right: Republicans believe that it should be a fundamental right of the people of any nation to elect their head of state and for every citizen to be eligible to hold that office. It is argued such a head of state is more accountable to the people, and that such accountability to the people creates a better nation.[102][103]

Further, republicans argue that members of the royal family bolster their position with unearned symbols of achievement. Examples in the UK include Elizabeth II's honorary military positions as colonel-in-chief, irrespective of her military experience. There is debate over the roles which the members of the monarchy have played in the military; many doubt that members of the Royal Family have served on the front line on the same basis as other members of the Armed Forces. Examples here include Prince Andrew, whose presence during the Falklands War was later criticised by the commander of the British Naval Force who stated that "special measures" had to be taken to ensure that the prince did not lose his life.[105] It is seen to some as more of a PR exercise than military service.[106]

In favour of a constitutional monarchy

British political scientist Vernon Bogdanor justifies monarchy on the grounds that it provides for a nonpartisan head of state, separate from the head of government, and thus ensures that the highest representative of the country, at home and internationally, does not represent a particular political party, but all people.[130]

According to Bogdanor, monarchies can play a helpful unifying role in a multinational state, noting that "In Belgium, it is sometimes said that the king is the only Belgian, everyone else being either Fleming or Walloon" and that the British sovereign can belong to all of the UK's constituent countries (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), without belonging to any particular one of them.[130]

See also


  1. ^ The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 codified the procedure for ratifying treaties, meaning a treaty may no longer be ratified solely through royal prerogative. This act was intended to extend to the deployment of the armed forces and the declaration of war, however it does not, meaning these actions only conventionally require the approval of Parliament.
  2. ^ The primary concerns around the Privy Council arises from the Orders in Council, which is passed by the Queen at a meeting of the Privy Council. Orders in Council are often used for significant actions done by the government, where a statutory instrument laid by an individual minister may not be appropriate. Orders in Council may be prerogative, meaning they exercise a prerogative power of the Monarch (These are powers which have not been explicitly taken away by Parliament). Prerogative orders are treated as primary legislation. Orders in Council may also be statutory, meaning they are exercising powers granted by an Act of Parliament. These orders are treated as secondary legislation and follow the procedure required by the Statutory Instruments Act 1946. Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service [1984] UKHL 9 established that prerogative orders in Council are subject to judicial review, given some conditions. Statutory orders are subject to judicial review in the same way as statutory instruments laid before parliament.
  3. ^ Cases such as R (Jackson) v Attorney General [2005] UKHL 56 dispute that the sovereignty of Parliament is, in-fact, limitless.


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Further reading