At the age of 12 I took part in a school debate about whether the monarchy should be abolished. I was arguing that it should and spent hours crafting my argument and reading it out in front of the mirror.
The preparation didn’t help and it was a resounding loss for both me and the republican cause. I can’t remember the exact crushing weight of the landslide, but practically no one cast their ballot in my favour, apart from a few pity votes from the odd nice teacher.
It was a tough crowd. The Royals were riding the crest of a wave at this point in the 1980s and not many 12-year-olds in affluent north London were weird enough to have strong views on abolition.
My views haven’t changed and so on Monday, when everyone else is paying their last respects to the Queen, I’ll be doing what I always do on major royal events: work. I may glance up at the TV, but I can’t watch for too long otherwise my allergic reaction to national deference to the feudal system will kick in and I’ll collapse on the floor. Keep an eye on the obits section on Tuesday.
In many ways, I’m sad not to be able to join in as I always feel separated from my friends – and indeed the nation – on these “momentous” occasions. You could say I’m having republican FOMO. I would love to watch the funeral with pals and have the day off work, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Similarly, I didn’t attend a single street party or sink a single celebratory G&T over the jubilee weekend. I couldn’t talk about how in love Kate and William were when they got married (nausea, you know).
I just had to carry on doing my normal everyday thing while everyone else had a lovely time. It’s the kind of stoic dedication to a cause that Britons seem to approve of. It’s almost royalist, in a way.
The thing about my republicanism is it’s never been personal. I don’t dislike the Royal Family themselves, it’s the whole system I object to. If we had to have a person in the role of monarch – and you’re not allowed to hold an interview process to see who is most qualified, or indeed vote for them – then we could have done a lot worse than the late Queen, or even the current King.
I’m also not a pure republican in that I love the gossip. I can’t help but somehow get involved in the story of the Royal Family, like I’m caught in a whirlpool of scandal and tittle-tattle. Sometimes I pretend that I don’t care that the Queen has died, but it’s not an honest answer, as I do. I think the majority of the UK are very weird and illogical when it comes to their royalism, but at the same time, I can’t help but get wrapped up in at all.
So I can’t be detached and yet I can’t bring myself to take part. I’m left on the outside again, just as I was when I was 12. Maybe I need to sharpen up my arguments. Perhaps I’ll take it down to the queues snaking round London and give the public the vote this time.