The pro-democracy group Republic has begun a series of nonviolent protests in reaction to the build-up of preparations to the royal jubilee in June.
The UK government has encouraged the public to celebrate sixty years of the reign of Elizabeth II. But critics say that the monarchy is undemocratic and outdated. They also fear that David Cameron and his ministers will attempt to use the celebrations to divert attention from severe cuts to public spending and the welfare state.
Around a dozen people, including popular human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, protested as Elizabeth II visited the Guildhall in the City of London to celebrate the bicentenary of the author Charles Dickens.
They displayed banners reading “What the Dickens?” and chanted “Make monarchy history!”
The protest was the first in a series of small demonstrations being organised by campaign group Republic, as a lead up to a major protest at the Thames pageant on 3 June.
Republic is challenging the jubilee, arguing that 60 years of one head of state is nothing to be celebrating in a democratic society.
“Our message is simple,” said Graham Smith of Republic, “This is not a national celebration, it is a royal celebration, marking another sixty years of an unaccountable and undemocratic institution".
Smith described the monarchy as “a central part of a political system that is fundamentally undemocratic”. He added, “The institution itself is racked with political meddling and financial waste while the very principle of hereditary power is offensive to democratic values".
Republic believe that it is wrong for the government to be “indulging in a celebration of royal privilege and undemocratic power”.
Smith declared, “We’ll be making that message loud and clear over the coming months”.