British republicans look to have Royal Archives unsealed
Nick Wells, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, March 19, 2017 10:00PM EDT
A group of British republicans has launched a campaign to have the contents of the Royal Archives -- including documentation chronicling the meetings between royalty and civil servants, prime ministers and international leaders – opened to the public.
The Royal Archives contain correspondence and documents from the Royal Family covering the past 250 years.
The anti-monarchist group Republic wants to access the letters and minutes of these meetings, which are currently exempt from access to information requests.
"This is supposed to be a democratic society, the Queen works for us and we want to know what she's been up to. Simple as that," said Graeme Smith, the group's CEO.
The group has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money which will be used to lobby MPs and determine if Republic can take the matter to the courts.
The Royal Archives are seen as one of the United Kingdom's most secretive institutions, and has been said to be more secretive than the country's domestic counter-intelligence agency.
"Every year, MI5 releases archives that do not have a security implication, that do not embarrass living individuals, that do not invade privacy," said Ben Macintyre, an author and columnist with The Times newspaper. "Well it seems to me those are the principles you could easily apply to the royal archive."
But royal experts say if the archives were open to the public, the letters and minutes simply wouldn't be placed into the archive. They would be disposed of.
"If they were subject to rules whereby which things had to be open, quite frankly they wouldn't be put into the royal archives," said Hugo Vickers, an author who has written numerous books about the Royal Family.
Republic says they understand a person's right to privacy, but the Queen is a public official and should have her views and opinions known.
"That doesn't negate our right to know what's going on behind closed doors," Smith said.
With a report from CTV News’ Daniele Hamamdjian