I MEAN no disrespect. Seventy years is a milestone in anyone’s book. Anyone I know who has met the Queen attests to her thoughtfulness and sincerity. And across those decades she has undoubtedly discharged the mandate given to her by the British state well. But that doesn’t make it right. So, we ought also to take this opportunity to reflect on whether the monarchy is compatible with the norms and values of a democratic society – and whether we want it to continue for another 70 years.

What are we celebrating exactly?

If this were just about acknowledging a lifetime of public service by one woman, I might not have a problem. But it isn’t. It is about promoting the monarchy as an institution. It is about sugar-coating a system of privilege and inequality atop of which sits our most senior aristocratic family.

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There is something unseemly about the pomp and pageantry on the Mall whilst a record number of children go to bed hungry. This is time when millions are choosing between eating and heating, worrying themselves into an early grave about how to pay the bills. Britain’s elite and powerful ought to be more circumspect about celebrating their position at this time – it might just backfire.

The National:

Is it just me? Apparently not. Attitudes are changing. A YouGov poll at the beginning of last month asked people whether to keep or abolish the monarchy. Overall, 27% said abolish and 60% keep. Amongst young people a majority want the monarchy gone.

In Scotland, opinion is more even with 45% saying retain the monarchy and 40% wanting it abolished. This represents a significant shift in opinion since the golden jubilee 20 years ago when more than three quarters of the population favoured the royals.

And yet to watch the BBC you would think that no-one was concerned that this institution might have had its day. The sycophancy and genuflection of so-called journalists on our public broadcasting channel is just embarrassing.

READ MORE: Platinum Jubilee comes amid global push to ditch the British monarchy

This is the sort of uncritical and slavish reporting that we would condemn elsewhere. Full marks to The National for allowing expression of a legitimate, reasonable and widely-held point of view, one that has been extinguished from the debate almost everywhere else.

That view is simple: it is a hallmark of any democratic society that people elect, and unelect, their leaders. This applies especially to the office of head of state. The Queen, and soon the king, sign off on all legislation before it becomes law.

Now some say that this is an automatic process, a formality, which doesn’t allow the monarch to influence or change policy.

That’s not quite true. But even if it were, that is also a democratic problem. It means the ability to scrutinise and check parliamentary decisions is sacrificed because it is accepted the head of state has no legitimacy to do so. By contrast, the elected president of Ireland, in addition to his ceremonial roles, has the power to refer laws he suspects to be unconstitutional to the country’s Supreme Court.

READ MORE: Republic: Why the Queen needs to be Elizabeth the Last

The celebrity soap opera of the British royal family doesn’t come cheap either. Britain has the most expensive monarchy in Europe. In the few other countries that retain such an institution, it has been slimmed down. Here the opposite is the case.

It is ridiculously hard to get information about how public money is being spent by the royals. For instance, this year I have been trying to find out whether Prince Andrew’s settlement with Virginia Giuffre – reportedly for £12m – has been funded by the taxpayer.

The royal family is one of the wealthiest in the UK, with considerable private means. That’s their business. But the money they receive from us is ours. The monarchy is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, so no one, including members of parliament has a right to know how they spend public money.

This is just plain wrong.

With the coming succession of King Charles, I believe the time is right for a fundamental review of how the monarchy functions.

The National:

It would be a smart move if Charles were to instigate such a review himself.

These discussions are taking place all over the world as many Commonwealth countries review their relationship with the royal family – and it’s only going in one direction.

Here in Scotland, becoming an independent country would give us the opportunity too to consider how – or if – the monarchy should be part of how we govern our new state. It is not SNP policy to change the monarchy. Nor should it be.

The SNP is first and foremost the political expression of a desire for self-government.

That means we would get to choose whether or not to keep the monarchy.

You do not need to be a republican to believe in an independent Scotland, and, in the journey to that end, I will work hand in glove with those who take a different view of monarchy.

One day soon we can then have a proper debate about whether we should still be bending the knee to people who hold their position because of an accident of birth.