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British republican movement

Although Britain is a constitutional monarchy, there have been movements since the nineteenth century whose aim is to remove the monarchy and establish a republican system in which the British people elect a ceremonial president to act as head of state.

The most recent movement is led by Republic, the Campaign for an Elected Head of State.

The monarchy is still largely popular, but a sizeable minority of the British public are opposed to it, opinion polls usually show around 15-25%. However, scandals involving the Queen's children, and a decline in respect for traditional institutions, have led to a gradual shift in attitudes over the years. Websites are emerging such as British Republic and The Centre for Citizenship. Nonetheless, it is possible to overemphasise recent trends. After reaching a low point following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, support for the monarchy rebounded during the celebrations for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. Republicanism was similarly high during the later years of Queen Victoria's reign, when she withdrew from public life following the death of her husband, Prince Albert, only to rebound after her Diamond Jubilee.

The Fabian Society published a report in July 2003 giving a number of recommendations for reform of the monarchy, but they fell short of arguing for its abolition.

Well-known contemporary republicans include Tony Benn, who in 1991 introduced a Commonwealth of Britain Bill in Parliament, Roy Hattersley, journalist and author Claire Rayner and Michael Mansfield, QC.

Objections to the monarchy are often based on what republicans believe is the anachronistic system of choosing a head of state by birth, rather than merit or election.

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