Republicans put on brave face with anti-wedding party

29th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

As much of Britain was entranced by the fairytale royal wedding on Friday, opponents of the monarchy vented their annoyance at an occasion they consider to be a waste of time and money.

"The whole country is not in rapture over the royal wedding," Graham Smith, campaign manager of anti-monarchy group Republic, told 200 people gathered in a picturesque London square for a republican street party.

British flags flew in the wind and a band entertained the crowd -- but not in support of Prince William and his new bride Kate.

This was the 'Not the Royal Wedding' celebration.

While some 5,500 pro-royal street parties took place across Britain, determined republicans young and old enjoyed jazz music, a variety of stalls and brief London sunshine as the wedding took place in Westminster Abbey.

Republic has 16,000 official supporters, more than twice the number when the royal engagement was announced in November, but it claims millions more Britons are against the monarchy.

"While we wish William and Kate every personal happiness, we're just here to say that Britain's 12 million republicans are not happy about the prospect of William becoming king," Republic volunteer Sophia Deboick, 29, told AFP.

"We're just here to make the republican voice heard on a day when the royal family are using what should be a personal occasion as a PR opportunity."

Republic's high-profile supporters include film director Mike Leigh as well as a clutch of lawmakers.

It said its party was aimed at celebrating "democracy and people power rather than inherited privilege".

Student Richard Rose said he had travelled to Friday's republican party from Southampton in southeast England for an "educational" day out.

"I'm not an official member" of Republic "but want to find out about their beliefs," added the eccentric 30-year-old, who was dressed as a pope "for fun".

Rose said that the high cost of the wedding was an expense the country could ill afford amid the British government's deep spending cuts.

One guest at the republican party meanwhile sported a top with the message: "I paid for this wedding and all I got was this lousy T-shirt", in reference to the millions of pounds of taxpayers' money needed to fund the royal event.

Official Republic merchandise on sale included a tea mug emblazoned with "I'm not a royal wedding mug". Party guests were meanwhile invited to sign a giant card for the newlyweds and pledge their allegiance to anything but Queen Elizabeth II.

Republic campaigns for "a democratically accountable head of state and an end to any constitutional role for the royal family" and says the change should be decided by a referendum.

© 2011 AFP

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