YOU don’t disrespect the dead by talking of a future without them. The Queen was the constitutional monarch of a democracy. The bedrock of any democracy is freedom of speech. Democracy is difficult and messy. It’s grown-up. It requires hard conversations about complex matters. Sometimes those hard conversations must take place at uncomfortable times.

If this nation, which the Queen headed, is indeed a democracy, does it not do that democracy a grave disservice to abandon the need for difficult discussions, to softly smother freedom of speech. Isn’t that what’s happening now? A hefty minority in Britain is republican. We feel no allegiance to any crown or the head it sits on. We don’t consider ourselves ‘subjects’ but citizens. We wished to see the abolition of the monarchy before the Queen’s death, and we wish to see the abolition of the monarchy now that Charles is on the throne.

We aren’t disrespectful. We realise many of our fellow citizens want to grieve for their Queen and do so publicly. We’re happy for them to honour that need. But as members of this democracy we shouldn’t be made to feel as if we must stay silent when it comes to our opinions.

And a sense of silence has indeed been foist on this country. Broadcasters – chiefly, the BBC – act as if Britain is as one in its view of the Queen. It is not. While most republicans respect the Queen, that doesn’t mean we respect the institution of monarchy. Her death doesn’t suddenly mean we abandon principles and become obedient royalists.

There’s a feeling abroad that to even attempt to begin a conversation about abolition of the monarchy now would be to court the most swift of cancellations. The sight of anti-monarchist protestors being arrested on the streets of Britain for voicing opinions which millions of us hold is frankly chilling.

As a republican do I agree with street protests against the monarchy right now? No, I don’t. There’s a time and place for street politics and it’s not now. But I support the right of these protestors to make their case in public without fear of arrest.

There’s an Alice Through the Looking Glass effect playing out in Britain right now. Those who damned cancel culture, and claimed, with the most absurd and juvenile hyperbole, that ‘woke liberals’ had turned Britain into North Korea, now seem rather keen on cancellation and Pyongyangesque deification of leadership.

So it doesn’t disrespect the Queen to hold a conversation that imagines a future without a monarch like her. But it does deeply wound democracy to ask us all to be silent and think alike. We were once a country proud of dissent.

And can there be a more relevant time than today – right now – to hold that conservation about abolition? The Queen is dead. This is the very moment to ask whether the monarchy should continue now that she’s gone. That conversation can be respectful. Almost any difficult matter can be broached in an adult fashion if spoken about calmly, and with decency and humanity.

Instead of a grown-up conversation, Britain is being subjected to the most grotesque hypocrisy without comment or critique. Nigel Farage has previously labeled Charles – when Prince of Wales – “a threat to the monarchy”, said he “has no judgement”, is “utterly useless”, told him to “shut up”, and said he should “retire and spend more time talking to his plants”. Today, he fawns, and declares “God Save the King!”

Is this monarchism? Or is this charlatanism of the lowest order?

Many republicans are uncomfortable with what’s happening right now, particularly around the suspension of normal life. Our politicians – from the SNP to the Tory party – seem to have forgotten that we are in the worst economic crisis since many of us were born, yet the country has come to a halt.

Republicans aren’t asking for no mourning – certainly this republican isn’t. We understand the grief and the need to honour the Queen, but we’d also like to see our country governed. There’s mothers and fathers quite literally starving themselves out there in this land of ours so they can feed their children. There must be some thought and consideration given to that when we see millions spent upon remembering one woman.

The events of the last week don’t negate the fact that Britain is a democracy - we are, albeit a rather dysfunctional one – but they do negate the notion that we’re a grown-up country.

We’re a conditioned and timid nation. British values seek to teach deference from the cradle, and - worst of all – to instil conformity. We’re conformists, and the greatest act of conformity in Britain is to unquestioningly accept monarchy.

To accept monarchy is to accept your own place as a second class citizen. You’ll bow, and you’ll kneel and you’ll be conditioned to like it. You’ll pay for the life and pleasures of another human being, while your life is so much smaller than your ruler’s life. You’ll accept the absurd, primitive belief that simply because one human being issues from the womb of another that they’re born to rule, and you’re born just to serve.

Of course, I merely put my republican side of the argument here. There are plenty of arguments for the monarchy: continuity, the depoliticisation of the role of head of state, even the rather tired trope that the royals generate plenty of tourist cash.

Alright, let’s hear these arguments. And let’s hear them at a time which matters: now. Britain is engaging in a moment of transition without even considering what that transition means.

How could any nation not debate monarchy at a time like this?

Our refusal to think, question and discuss symbolises all that’s gone wrong with Britain. On the whole, we’re a country that’s easily led, that fears to think hard. We’re knee-jerk, we seek easy answers. Those easy answers, that fear of thinking, hasn’t served us well. If democracy asks anything, it simply asks its citizens to think, talk and reason. All that’s needed right now is a respectful discussion about the future of the monarchy. Is that wrong? Is that so frightening?