Why We Should Boycott The Royal Events
From fundraisers to feeding the poor and Meghan-free zones, there was plenty to do

Typical. You wait years for a royal wedding so you can nail your colours firmly to the republican mast by attending a leftist conference – and three come along at once.

On Saturday, as millions tuned in for the royal wedding and millions more took advantage of the good weather to spend time away from the television, those who were not fans of inherited privilege were faced with a near impossible dilemma. Should they plump for the Fabian Society’s summer conference, headlined by Labour luminaries Diane Abbott, Keir Starmer and Ed Miliband, or opt for shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s New Economics conference where “an excellent range of speakers” were discussing “topics such as Labour’s industrial strategy, tax and public spending, public ownership of our utilities and Labour’s policies for productive finance and investment”.

For those who feared that attending a leftist policy jamboree was not sufficiently anti-royal, there was also the anti-monarchy gathering of campaigners from around Europe and the Commonwealth “to plan a monarchy-free future”. Speakers included Labour MP Emma Dent Coad and the SNP MP Tommy Sheppard.

The Fabians’ general secretary, Andrew Harrop, admitted they were aware their event, held at Trades Union Congress House in Bloomsbury, would clash with Harry and Meghan’s big day. “We had started planning before [the date was announced] but then realised and decided to press ahead with the date anyway,” he said.

Was the clash a political gesture? “To an extent,” Harrop acknowledged on Friday as he prepared for his big day. “We knew it was unlikely that many of our conference-goers would watch the wedding. We also decided to put on a special session on the monarchy. One of the debates is ‘should the monarchy be reformed’. So there is a little royal wedding theme.”

Graham Smith, chief executive officer of Republic, the campaign group hosting the monarchy-free future conference, insists its event was planned before the wedding date was announced. Somewhat perversely, Smith is a fan of royal weddings. “All these royal events help us with our campaign,” he said. “They raise our profile and encourage people to come and find us because they get sick and tired of the coverage. People on the fence or soft republicans suddenly become committed republicans.”

A Yougov poll published by Republic last week suggests that 66% of people were not interested in the royal wedding. Three-fifths of respondents said they intended to have a normal weekend while one in 10 said they would be working. Just over one in four said they would be watching it or listening on the radio.

Few celebrated with an official street party. Road closure applications are down dramatically compared with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s big day. Kent county council received only 14 applications for street party closures, compared with 182 in 2011 – a drop of 92%. Hertfordshire issued licences for 51 street parties compared to 298. There were no official street parties in the Isle of Wight and only one in Scotland.

Some venues took the opportunity to raise a metaphorical two fingers to the royals. The Liverpool bar, Sound, held a Fuck the Royals party to raise money for local food banks. The Alexandra Hotel in Derby declared itself a royal wedding free zone. Anyone caught mentioning the event was asked to give a contribution to the pub’s charity tin.

It was Labour MP Dennis Skinner who perhaps best captured the caustic mood of those left cold by the happy couple’s big day. Posting a “do not disturb sign” on his Twitter account, the Beast of Bolsover, displayed a four point checklist: “Newspaper in the bin. CHECK; TV unplugged. CHECK; Radio, batteries removed. CHECK; Twitter feed disabled. CHECK; Have a lovely day.”

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