Freethinker, vol. 102, no. 12, December 1982, p. 190.

The above image is of page 190 of the Freethinker, vol. 102, no. 12, December 1982. It includes a letter by Albert E. Standley, which led to the formation of Republic, the anti-monarchy campaign group. The current CEO of Republic, Graham Smith, was arrested for protesting against the coronation on 6th May 2023.

Standley’s letter was one of several published in the Freethinker on the abolition question. The meeting which it inspired is described by Smith in Abolish the Monarchy, p. 194, as follows:

‘It was on the Queen’s birthday, 21 April 1983, that a small band of republicans met in London in response to a letter in the Freethinker magazine from librarian Albert Standley. The letter proposed the formation of a society that would advocate republican ideals and promote the alternative to the monarchy.’

The text of Standley’s original letter is reproduced below:


‘Philip Harding, commenting (October) on Julia Atkinson’s article on the monarchy (August) admits that the British so-called constitutional monarchy (we don’t have a constitution!) is imperfect, but falls back upon two well-worn and unsupported assertions: “it works well enough” and “there’s nothing better to replace it”.

‘I should like to see a Republican Association formed, among whose members would surely be such rationalists as those who support the NSS and even pragmatists of Mr Harding’s mould, which would work to put forward logical and viable alternatives. It would also publicise the view that the Head of any truly democratic State must be chosen by, accountable to and removable by its people. Would anyone like to join me in launching such a body?


55A Netley Road, Barkingside, Ilford, Essex’

Note: Standley’s surname is printed as ‘Stanley’ in the above issue of the Freethinker. However, this appears to be an error: he is referred to as ‘Standley’ both by Smith and elsewhere, including in an article by Roy Greenslade in the Guardian, published on 28 March 1994 (‘Down the Royals! Up the Republic!’). Greenslade discusses a recent pro-republican dinner in the Cholmondeley Room in the House of Lords that was

‘organised by Republic, a little-known pressure group founded 11 years ago by Albert Standley, a librarian from Colchester, and Terry Liddle, then a second-hand book salesman from south London. Like-minded Labour party supporters and humanists, both found they also agreed that the British monarchy was not only an anachronism but a barrier to a genuinely classless and egalitarian society. So, one foggy night at London Bridge station, they decided to set up Republic.’

See also:

With thanks to Dan Bye for research into Standley’s name.

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