In Northern Ireland, the term "republican" is usually used in the sense of Irish republicanism. While also against monarchical forms of government, Irish republicans are against the presence of the British state in any form in Ireland and advocate creating a united, all-island state. While this may be confusing, unionists who support a republic also exist.
There are republican members of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scotland and Plaid Cymru in Wales who advocate independence for those countries as republics. The SNP's official policy is that the British monarch would remain head of state of an independent Scotland, unless the people of Scotland decided otherwise.
Many of Cromwell's actions upon gaining power were decried by a number of commentators as "harsh, unwise, and tyrannical". He was often ruthless in putting down the mutinies which occurred within his own army towards the end of the civil wars (prompted by Parliament's failure to pay the troops). Cromwell showed little sympathy for the Levellers, an egalitarian movement which had contributed greatly to Parliament's cause but sought representation for ordinary citizens. The Leveller point of view had been strongly represented in the Putney Debates, held between the various factions of the Army in 1647, just prior to the King's temporary escape from army custody. Cromwell and the Grandees were not prepared to countenance such a radical democracy and used the debates to play for time while the future of the King was being determined. Catholics were persecuted zealously under Cromwell,although he personally was in favour of religious toleration "liberty for tender consciences" not all his compatriots agreed. The war led to much death and chaos in Ireland where Irish Catholics and Protestants who fought for the King were persecuted. There was a ban on many forms of entertainment; as public meetings could be used as a cover for conspirators, horse racing was banned,the maypoles were famously cut down, the theatres were closed, and Christmas celebrations were outlawed for being too ceremonial, Catholic, and "popish". When Charles II eventually regained the throne,in 1660, he was widely celebrated for allowing his subjects to have "fun" again.
Much of Cromwell's power was due to the Rump Parliament, a Parliament purged of opposition to grandees in the New Model Army. Whereas Charles I had been in part restrained by a Parliament that would not always do as he wished,(the cause of the Civil War) Cromwell was able to wield much more power as only loyalists were allowed to become MPs, turning the chamber into a rubber-stamping organisation. This was ironic given his complaints about Charles I acting without heeding the "wishes" of the people. But even so he found it almost impossible to get his Parliaments to follow all his wishes. His executive decisions were often thwarted - most famously in the ending of the rule of the regional major generals appointed by himself.
In 1657 Cromwell was offered the crown by Parliament, presenting him with a dilemma since he had played a great role in abolishing the monarchy. After two months of deliberation, he rejected the offer. Instead, he was ceremonially re-installed as "Lord Protector", with greater powers than he had previously held. It is often suggested that offering Cromwell the Crown was an effort to curb his power: as a King he would be obliged to honour agreements such as Magna Carta, but under the arrangement he had designed he had no such restraints. This allowed him to preserve and enhance his power and the army's while decreasing Parliament's control over him, probably to enable him to maintain a well-funded army which Parliament could not be depended upon to provide.
The office of Lord Protector was not formally hereditary, though Cromwell was able to nominate his own successor in his son, Richard.
Although England became a constitutional monarchy, after the reigns of Charles II his brother James II and after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 had placed William and Mary on the throne, there have been movements throughout the last few centuries whose aims were to remove the monarchy and establish a republican system. A notable period was the time in the late 18th century and early 19th century when many Radicals were openly republican.
During the later years of Queen Victoria's reign, there was considerable criticism of her decision to withdraw from public life following the death of her husband, Prince Albert. However this did not translate into clear support for republicanism. Most of the criticism was dismissed when she came out of mourning and returned to public life.
The Centre for Citizenship has a broader view of republicanism, which include a fully elected second chamber of parliament, abolition of the official honours system and disestablishment of the Church of England.
"The new office of President would represent a new political culture - social inclusiveness would replace social hierarchy, mutual respect would replace deference, genuine intellect would replace the spurious wisdom of princes. Pompous titles, counterfeit 'generals' and royal chancellors of universities would be consigned to history. The current system of honours would be simplified and modernised and based only on merit.
Republicans argue that such a system would advance the egalitarian cause of meritocracy, and create a political consciousness less connected with social class or birth. Every child growing up in a British republic, from whatever background, would know from an early age that they could aspire one day to becoming Head of State.
Further, republicans argue that 'the people', not the members of one family, should be sovereign.
Due to the history of Great Britain and especially Plots of Catholic Jesuits against Protestantism within the Nation,iIt is law that Roman Catholics may not inherit the Crown. It is argued by Republicans that having an Anglican head of state is unrepresentative of a nation where 4% of adults are practicing Anglicans. yet when realising that Protestantism is not only subjected to Anglicanism, over 38% of the British Population would still consider themselves Protestant.
The British Royal Family uses male primogeniture, which means that the crown is inherited by the eldest son, and is only passed on to a daughter if the monarch has no sons. If absolute primogeniture were used instead of male primogeniture, the crown would be passed on to the eldest child irrespective of sex so that daughters had the same rights as sons. This method of succession disinherits not only daughters but their descendants.
It is argued by republicans that the way citizens are expected to address members, however junior, of the royal family is part of an attempt to keep subjects 'in their place'.
The order of succession in a monarchy specifies a person who will become head of state, regardless of qualifications. The highest titular office in the land is not open to "free and fair competition".
Republicans argue that members of the royal family bolster their position with unearned symbols of achievement. Examples in the UK include the Queen's many honourary military titles of colonel-in-chief. The Queen's sole military experience, though honourable and bold for its day, was as a driver and mechanic. There is debate over the roles the members of the monarchy have played in the military, many doubt that members of the royal family took any part on the front line for any length of time. It is seen to some as more of a PR exercise then military service. It is also seen that members of the royal family are fast tracked to higher ranks in the army.
Republicans argue that a hereditary system condemns each heir to the throne to an abnormal childhood. This was historically the reason why the anarchist William Godwin opposed the monarchy. Johann Hari has written a book God Save the Queen? in which he argues that every member of the royal family has suffered psychologically from the system of monarchy.
Republicans argue that monarchs are not impartial but harbour their own opinions, motives, and wish to protect their interests. Rather than feeling comforted that monarchs are impartial by their freedom from election, republicans claim that monarchs are not accountable. As an example, though he has clarified that he will avoid "politically contentions" issues, republicans argue that Prince Charles has spoken or acted in a way that could be interpreted as taking a political stance, citing his refusal to attend, in protest of China's dealings with Tibet, a state dinner hosted by the Queen for the Chinese head of state; his strong stance on GM food; and the contents of certain memos regarding how people achieve their positions which were leaked to the press.
While monarchists tend to feel that an impartial advantage is gained by various aspects of the civil service reporting to the Crown, (see example of police below), republicans see a lack of important democratic accountability and transparency for such institutions.
Republicans claim that the total costs to taxpayers including hidden elements (e.g, the Royal Protection security bill) of the monarchy are over £100 million per annum. The Telegraph claims the monarchy costs each adult in Britain around 62p a year.
Republicans argue that the monarchy may be considered an embarrassment: as a concept it is dated and while the UK has a hereditary head of state it can not claim to be a modern nation.
Monarchists argue that an impartial, symbolic head of state is a step removed from political, commercial, and factional interests, allowing them to be a non-partisan figure who can act as an effective intermediary between various levels of government and political parties, an especially indispensable feature in a federal system . The fact that the monarch nominally holds all executive authority is seen as advantageous by monarchists, who state that the Crown is a guarantor against the misuse of constitutional power by politicians for personal gain. This view of the monarchy could have developed after Oliver Cromwell's Republic which eventually became a military dictatorship; there has been little desire to attempt a republic since. Monarchists assert that honours systems like the French Legion of Honour may not be as politically impartial as they feel that a monarch is.
Monarchists argue that a constitutional monarch with limited powers and non-partisan nature can provide a focus for national unity, national awards and honours, national institutions, and allegiance, as opposed to a president affiliated to a political party.
Monarchs tend to be linked with the monarchs of other nations, or in the case of the Commonwealth, one person is the head of state for a number of nations.
The Queen is the head of the Church of England and plays quite an active role.
Monarchists argue that separating the head of state from the head of government (the Prime Minister), offers some advantages. This separation can be achieved by a constitutional monarchy, or a republic with both president and prime minister.
Monarchists argue that in a limited, constitutional monarchy the monarch is able to give impartial non-political support to the work of a wide range of different types of organizations, faiths, charities, artists, craftsmen, etc. It is difficult to prove that the support of the monarchy is politically impartial, but it is easily documented that monarchs have supported charitable causes and NGOs. The police in the UK are charged with protecting the monarch's peace, and are thus servants of the Crown and not of the government: this allows them to be independent of the government, thus separating the administration of justice from the executive power. In practice the monarch exercises no direct power over such institutions, which are, therefore run by the government, for the people.
Monarchists argue that constitutional monarchy creates a head of state who is under the democratic control of Parliament but remains in power for a long time, giving stability and experience to the state. This was not the case in earlier times when factions fought over the monarchy. Modern constitutional monarchs, such as those in Denmark, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, have reigned for long periods and seen many Prime Ministers come and go.
Republicans have argued that the existence of a monarchy or an aristocracy amounts to snobbery, and that a monarch should not inherit power without qualifications or merit . However, a monarchist might counter that the loss of a monarchy would do nothing to diminish discrimination, and point towards the presidency of George W. Bush in the United States or even Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan partly on the grounds that their fathers were noted politicians before them as testimony to the fact that a person can and will be placed in power on unfair grounds with or without the presence of a crown.
Constitutional Monarchists argue that where elections are not needed they are only divisive, and that the head of state need not be elected. This relates to the first argument that they are impartial and are figures of unity that people from all sides of the political spectrum can unite behind.
The annual expenditure, since June 2005 has been a total of £36.7 Million or approximately 61 pence per person. When compared to the relative size and the duties that the Royal Family perform, this is significantly more cost effective as their only job duties are the meeting of foreign dignitaries, attending events and ceremonial events, to which they devote the majority of their time. In most states with a presidential system, the duties are divided between political and ceremonial responsibilities resulting in less time for both.
Also, it is commonly exaggerated how expensive the monarchy is, and how cost effective some republic governments are. For example, in the United States, citizens are taxed millions every year for things such as The White House, and Air Force One. Also, as the head of state in a republic has more political status, higher security and transport costs are required.