IN Dundee and Glasgow this week, as in other cities around the UK, billboards went up with a very simple message – Make Elizabeth the Last. In other words, as we approach the end of the Queen’s reign, let’s pack it in and become a republic. It’s a sentiment shared by many people who would otherwise call themselves monarchists, or at least fans of the Queen.

In response to the sole BBC report on opposition to the monarchy this week, one tweeter replied: “I’m OK with her [the Queen] as long as she’s with us, but the rest of them need to go now … We need to move on once she’s gone.” That’s a sentiment I’ve heard many times before because for most people the monarchy is the Queen, and the Queen is the monarchy. No Queen, what’s the point of the monarchy?

The National:

Personally, I’d argue there’s never any point in the monarchy, whoever is on the throne. And an increasing number of people agree. Support for abolition has jumped to 27%, while in Scotland support for retaining the monarchy has fallen to 45%. But the imminent succession suggests a whole lot more people will be moving over to the republican camp once King Charles is on the throne.

That trend will also be repeated across the Commonwealth, with all eight Caribbean realms likely to ditch the monarchy before this decade is out. That would leave Australia, which has just elected a very pro-republic prime minister; Canada, which is now recording a majority in favour of cutting ties with the royals; and New Zealand, which won’t be far behind the other two, along with Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. They will all choose to remain in the Commonwealth but will be, like the majority of Commonwealth countries, republics with their own heads of state.

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With the Queen gone, the monarchy will be reduced, in the public imagination anyway, to King Charles, Prince William and Prince Andrew, with Harry having escaped to the US. That’s hardly an appealing or exciting prospect. Neither Charles nor William gets anything like the support the Queen does, and their polling numbers are far below those of many elected heads of state in places such as Ireland, Iceland and Finland. As for Andrew, the less said about him the better.

Without the protection of the Queen, the remaining royals will be open to more vigorous scrutiny and criticism. Their scandalous spending of public money on their private lives (the total cost estimated by Republic to be more than £345m a year), their secrecy and their lobbying of our governments behind closed doors will all be easier to talk about, and the blame will be easier to pin on the royals themselves, not on their advisers and staff. This is all good news, because in a democracy we need transparency and accountability, and to be able to have a serious, grown-up discussion about our national institutions. If we can have that discussion, I have no doubt many more people will begin to agree that the monarchy is wrong in principle, deeply flawed in practice and bad for our politics, both in Westminster and Holyrood.

The principled argument shouldn’t need explaining, and the flaws of the institution are well documented, not least the secret lobbying and special powers that allowed the Queen to demand exemption from Scottish environmental protection laws last year. The impact of the monarchy on our politics stems in part from the huge powers vested in the Crown but exercised by the prime minister. Crown powers lead to a weak parliament that is left largely to do the job of rubber-stamping the decisions of government.

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Now, if you’re reading this you may be thinking OK, but Scotland will become independent and will have its own constitution. Perhaps, but surely that constitution must be rid of the last vestiges of crown power, royal patronage and undemocratic institutions.

It would be an odd declaration of independence if it were made on one knee to a then foreign monarchy, particularly at a time when former British colonies are cutting ties with the Crown. As Republic said in the run-up to the 2014 indyref, Yes or No, the monarchy must go.

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