WorldViews

Why some Brits don’t like the royal family

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Hannah Jewell and Dave Jorgenson/The Washington Post

According to Michael Billig, a retired professor of social sciences at Loughborough University, public opinion polls have shown that about 15 to 20 percent of the population in Britain thinks the monarchy should be abolished.

These people are called republicans, because they believe the British system of constitutional monarchy should be replaced with a republic like France or the United States.

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Hannah Jewell and Dave Jorgenson/The Washington Post

For British republicans, having a monarch — even one who holds no outright political power — means that some people are born with a higher social status than others.

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Hannah Jewell and Dave Jorgenson/The Washington Post

Much ambivalence about the royal family in Britain and around the world also stems from a feeling that its wealth and power originate from a legacy of British colonialism.

Ishaan Tharoor, a foreign affairs writer at The Washington Post, says the monarchy represents a lot more than the “quaint, cutesy, anachronistic thing” that many Americans see it as.

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Hannah Jewell and Dave Jorgenson/The Washington Post

Of course, many British people neither love nor hate the royals, but have a more complicated relationship with the institution and traditions of monarchy.

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Hannah Jewell and Dave Jorgenson/The Washington Post

Britain has been a republic before: from 1649, when King Charles I was executed by forces led by Oliver Cromwell at the end of the English Civil War, until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

Since then, the popularity of the monarchy and the prevalence of republican sentiment have expanded and waned over time.

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Hannah Jewell and Dave Jorgenson/The Washington Post

According to Billig, a large factor in the popularity of the royal family is how hard the royals appear to be working — and that as people get older, they tend to like the monarchy more.

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Hannah Jewell and Dave Jorgenson/The Washington Post

Even among those who are more ambivalent about the royal family and the royal wedding, some feel the monarchy lends a degree of stability during a tumultuous time in British politics — at least for now.

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Hannah Jewell and Dave Jorgenson/The Washington Post

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Hannah Jewell and Dave Jorgenson/The Washington Post

Camera: Daniel Mich, Dave Jorgenson, Breanna Muir

Guests: Ishaan Tharoor, Dawn Foster, Michael Billig, Gena-mour Barrett, Hussein Kesvani