The anti-monarchy group Republic have accused the BBC of lacking impartiality in royal coverage ahead of the May coronation. Who are Republic?
While many are gearing up to celebrate the coronation of King Charles next month, the UK anti-monarchy group Republic has accused the BBC of a lack of impartiality in its coverage.
The campaign group, which states that it wants “to see the monarchy abolished and the King replaced with an elected, democratic head of state,” has accused the broadcaster of failing to hold the monarchy to account.
They have sent a letter to David Jordan, the BBC’s director of editorial and policy standards saying that the complaint was “particularly urgent in light of the forthcoming coronation”.
Republic accuses the BBC of failing “to give voice to a reasonable balance of views on the issue”.
The Republic chief executive, Graham Smith, says in the letter that “evidence suggests the BBC not only fails to be impartial, but makes no attempt to be impartial or balanced and, most shockingly, openly colludes with the palace in its coverage.”
“It should be a source of deep shame for all those involved that, instead of such fearless reporting, we have insipid, vacuous and dishonest coverage from a BBC that is fearful of public opprobrium and palace influence.”
The letter makes reference to a recent YouGov poll that reveals that a majority of Britons were not interested in the coronation. In the survey of more than 3,000 adults conducted this month, 35% said they “did not care very much” about the event, and 29% said they did not care at all.
“A recent YouGov poll showed only 15% of the public are enthusiastic about the coronation, with a majority not interested. The BBC’s coverage will suggest the opposite is true,” states Smith.
“Support for abolition of the monarchy has climbed over 30% and support for the monarchy among people under 40 has dropped below 50%. Yet none of that is reflected in the BBC’s coverage.”
In response, a BBC spokesperson said: “We believe our reporting is fair and duly impartial, and BBC News always seeks to reflect a range of viewpoints in our Royal coverage.”
Who are Republic and what is #NotMyKing?
The anti-monarchist group has been calling for an end to the UK's system of constitutional monarchy and believes hereditary public office goes against every democratic principle.
The movement has gained momentum since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and the hashtag #NotMyKing has been doing the rounds on social media ever since.
Republic was founded as a pressure group in 2006 and is a member organisation of Common Cause - the alliance of republican movements in the Commonwealth - as well as the Stockholm based Alliance of European Republican Movements. It is currently headed up by Peter Cafferkey.
The group protested the royal wedding of Prince William and Princess Catherine in 2011 and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding in 2018.
Following the Queen’s death, anti-monarchy billboards went up in 18 UK towns, cities and a number of London boroughs. Each of the billboards featured a #NotMyKing hashtag alongside a picture of King Charles, an initiative which coincided with Republic’s crowdfunding appeal. In October 2022, the group said that its membership was growing rapidly and its income was expected to hit a quarter of a million pounds in 2022.
The group has also held protests which included booing King Charles and Queen Camilla last month, as well as an anti-monarchy protest in London, near Westminster Abbey, on the occasion of the Commonwealth Day - the annual celebration of the Commonwealth of Nations since 1977.
The group carried banners reading "Not My King", "Down with the Crown" and "Racist Royal Family".
The Republic plan to protest on the day of the coronation at Westminster Abbey on 6 May. Their website offers merchandise for protests, as well as a pledge to protest, in which they state that “this is the moment we make our objection loud, visible and impossible to ignore.”
They have set up a route for the protest and ask those joining them to wear yellow - and if people bring their own placard, to make it “black text on a yellow background if you can!”
Republic are reportedly expecting more than a thousand people at the upcoming protest.