Does the name Klaus Vogel ring any bells? asks Dan Bye
In 1981, some enterprising Royal genealogist worked out that he was 3143rd in line to the British throne. Much has changed in the intervening 21 years, and I don't even know if Klaus is still alive, but you can still view this line of succession at: http://members.aol.com/eurostamm/succession_1981.html A more up to date list of the top 150 people in line to the throne is available here: http://www.begent.freeserve.co.uk/history/succession.htm.
The point of the foregoing, if there is one, is that the Royal line is finite. If they keep dying off at the present rate, eventually we'll run out of potential monarchs and (barring constitutional innovation) that would be the end of that. There does seem to be a fairly widely held belief that eventually we all get to be King or Queen. Not so. Thanks to the 1701 Act of Settlement (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4100998,00.html) the necessary qualification is to be descended from Princess Sophia, electress of Hanover and granddaughter of James I. Oh, and you can't be a Catholic. All of which means that the British side of the line of succession runs out after the 56th person in the list, and the throne goes to the King of Norway.
The Guardian newspaper has been particularly exercised about the 1701 Act of Settlement, substituting a concern over its anti-Catholicism for a more full-blooded republicanism. Nevertheless their online monarchy news section is a good place to visit for a sceptical perspective: http://www.guardian.co.uk/monarchy/
The Internet is a hotbed of royalism; anti-monarchism and republicanism are comparatively thinly represented. A search at http://www.google.co.uk for 'Queen Mother' retrieved about 95,400 hits, but 'Thomas Paine' managed only 69,900 hits (you can read his classic 'Common Sense' online: http://www.bartleby.com/133/. Pro-monarchist web sites include the official UK royalty site at http://www.royal.gov.uk/, and the International Monarchist League/Constitutional Monarchy Association at http://www.monarchy.net/
The anti-monarchist sites out there range from the mildly reformist to the rabidly antipathetic.
The main republican campaigning group in the UK is Republic (http://www.republic.org.uk/).
Their website seems to be in the process of being updated and has only rather limited information about the organisation and its activities, and the case against the monarchy.
The Centre for Republican Democracy (http://home.clara.net/citizen/home.html), on the other hand, is an excellent source of news, comment, and information. Their section on "The Church", looking at disestablishment, notes that " the only active campaigning that has been undertaken on the issue has been that of organisations such as the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association", which proves that the CRD have their finger on the pulse!
There is also the Republican Alliance (http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/9336/). They say they are "Levellers, republicans, democrats, radicals, secularists, and libertarians", which may appeal to readers of New Humanist.
The Anti-monarchist page at http://www.soton.ac.uk/~paw196/Antimon.htm has begun documenting anti-monarchist literature. Not much there yet, but the extract from Christopher Hitchens' "Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish" is worth a read alone. The author notes that "finding intelligent and scholarly criticism of the most enduring... of English institutions... is an undertaking destined to end in disappointment", so it should be worth keeping an eye on his page to see what he comes up with. Ghastly pink background though.
You certainly won't find any scholarly criticism at the pungently satirical Throne Out (fantastic name!): (http://www.throneout.com/). It pulls no punches, but there's a place in the world for confrontational humour. Their "Could You Be a Royal?" online quiz is wicked: http://www.throneout.com/royal_quiz.asp
Monarchy Out! (http://monarchyout.members.easyspace.com/) is less stringent than that. "I like things that make sense", says the author, "having a monarchy reign over us in Britain has never made sense to me." And he goes on to explain exactly why. Well designed, with a links page that includes pro-monarchy sites as well as anti- ones.
The Movement Against the Monarchy (MA'M) is an anarchist direct action/protest group. These are the people who dropped their trousers and 'mooned' at Buckingham Palace a few years ago to an audience consisting mainly of police officers and Daily Mail reporters. Their website (http://start.at/buckingham_palace) pulls even fewer punches than Throne Out, starting as it means to go on with its logo: a guillotine. The pungent style won't be to everyone's taste, but there is an energy here that is lacking elsewhere. Whether they always direct it at the right targets is another matter. The site hosts a diary of actions and anti-Jubilee events, and reports of the same, but don't come here looking for detailed articles. And honestly, what is it with anti-monarchists and nasty pink backgrounds?
For a global perspective, check out the International Anti-Monarchy Web Directory (http://www.lis.uiuc.edu/~makepeac/intrep/), which is exactly what is says it is a directory of anti-monarchist and republican organisations and resources sorted by country.
Finally, I'd like to draw readers' attention to the New Humanist's online '5th Column' (http://www.newhumanist.org.uk/fifthcolumn.php), which was announced as forthcoming in my last column and has now burst onto the Web. I'd pick out the 'Dr Strangebird' column as a personal favourite, along with Mike Kelly's fantasy 'French Intellectuals to be Deployed in Afghanistan To Convince Taliban of the Non-Existence of God'. But there are serious articles too, like Peter Tatchell's call for Mugabe's arrest. If you have always wanted more strangeness, humour and unrestrained passion in your New Humanist, '5th Column' is where you'll find it. Should do well.
I'll end by mentioning 'Secular Global Forum', a discussion group which can be found at http://communities.msn.co.uk/SecularGlobalForum, and is, according to its creator Hugh Caldwell, "a space where those of the 900 million non-religious that stop by might join or start a discussion". Early days yet, but perhaps a plug here will help: "are atheists as moral as theists?".