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British Republic PODs and Discussion

RyanF

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No, not that one. Put down that map! No footnotes!

Inspired by absolutely nothing in particular in the news these past few days, what potential PODs are there for the UK to turn from one of the most stable constitutional monarchies in the world to a boorish lout of a republic? And what form would a republican Britain take depending on when and how the switch occurred?

Some possibilities -

Victoria dying before she can accede to the throne and instead her uncle "Evil" Ernest Augustus becomes King; a thoroughly reactionary fellow who would be head of state through the tumultuous times of the 1830s and 1840s - probably the only way for Chartism to get going into proper revolution.

During the late reign of Queen Victoria, while she had withdrawn from public life following the death of Prince Albert, saw a rise in republican discussion from many politicians. Are there any ways to take this further?

What of Edward VIII? An idea of mine had been he doesn't become involved with Wallis but spends WWII hiding at Balmoral or maybe even abroad. The Cowardly Lion of a King does much to damage morale and leads to ill-feeling towards the monarchy that might fester in the coming decades if Edward lives for as long as he did OTL.
 
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Bolt451

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I used some kind of successful Sealion (and subsequent USSR landing in Nazi controlled Britain) and US intervention leading to a split Britain and with several royals dead, the Yanks want someone in a position of authority before the USSR can . So put Lord Mountbatten in as president.
 
What of Edward VIII? An idea of mine had been he doesn't become involved with Wallis but spends WWII hiding at Balmoral or maybe even abroad. The Cowardly Lion of a King does much to damage morale and leads to ill-feeling towards the monarchy that might fester in the coming decades if Edward lives for as long as he did OTL.
Shades of Leopold III here, but striking the right balance between enough to cause a serious issue, and not enough to force an abdication may be tricky - I'd be interested in seeing how you'd pull that off.
 

DocU

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I was toying with the idea of all these attempts http://www.thesocialhistorian.com/7-assassination-attempts-queen-victoria/
being successful on each heir in turn (yes, yes, I know that one royal assassination would butterfly the others) for a silly timeline/vignette

If removal of the monarch through violence becomes commonplace, perhaps removal of the whole institution becomes possible
 

DocU

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Oh, so research* (while on a boring conference call) makes this quite interesting. If we stick with the dates of the actual attempts we get:

18th June 1840 – Victoria assassinated (while pregnant). Ernest Augustus succeeds

30th May 1842 – Ernest Augustus assassinated. George V of Hannover succeeds.

3rd july 1842 – George assassinated. Augustus Frederick succeeds

4th May 1843 – Augustus Frederick dies. Augustus d’Este not a legitimate hier. Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge succeeds.

19th May 1849 – Adolphus assassinated. George, Duke of Cambridge succeeds

27th June 1850 – George assassinated. His son, George FitzGeorge not a legitimate heir. I need to read up on succession rules to make sure I understand who the legitimate heir would be.

So a touch over 10 years, 7 monarchs and 2 potential succession crises, plus the 1848 Revolutions…

* - OK, wiki. Sue me
 

Uhura's Mazda

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27th June 1850 – George assassinated. His son, George FitzGeorge not a legitimate heir. I need to read up on succession rules to make sure I understand who the legitimate heir would be.
If we assume that his marriage would be viewed as legal if his dad was literally the King at the time, then his youngest and only 'legitimate' son, Sir Augustus FitzGeorge, would become King. Although if we're being rigorous, the marriage and the birth of Augustus would both be butterflied to buggery by the fact that George is the Prince of sodding Wales.

The next non-butterflied person in line is George's sister, Princess Augusta of Cambridge.
Simples.

Have Cromwell gifted the Lord Protectorship to Henry rather than Tumbledown Dick and then gradually have it disconnected from the Cromwell family into a properly elected position.
Why ruin it by making it elected? There's nothing wrong with a good old hereditary republic, after all - just ask the Netherlands.

In any case, the 'Henry Cromwell will sort it out' meme is fine for normies, but I think it misunderstands how utterly fucked the Protectorate was at the time in terms of popular opinion. Oliver Cromwell had good rep for saving the country from tyranny, which was why they let him carry on despite the fact that the tyrant was no more and everyone was getting a bit bored of the Puritans and Levellers and especially these Cromwell guys who governed in exactly the same way as the old King and made all the death and destruction seem like a bit of a waste. Even people like Fleetwood or Ireton, who had major Civil War cred, wouldn't actually have been able to save such a fragile institution IMO.
 

KingCrawa

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If we assume that his marriage would be viewed as legal if his dad was literally the King at the time, then his youngest and only 'legitimate' son, Sir Augustus FitzGeorge, would become King. Although if we're being rigorous, the marriage and the birth of Augustus would both be butterflied to buggery by the fact that George is the Prince of sodding Wales.

The next non-butterflied person in line is George's sister, Princess Augusta of Cambridge.

Why ruin it by making it elected? There's nothing wrong with a good old hereditary republic, after all - just ask the Netherlands.

In any case, the 'Henry Cromwell will sort it out' meme is fine for normies, but I think it misunderstands how utterly fucked the Protectorate was at the time in terms of popular opinion. Oliver Cromwell had good rep for saving the country from tyranny, which was why they let him carry on despite the fact that the tyrant was no more and everyone was getting a bit bored of the Puritans and Levellers and especially these Cromwell guys who governed in exactly the same way as the old King and made all the death and destruction seem like a bit of a waste. Even people like Fleetwood or Ireton, who had major Civil War cred, wouldn't actually have been able to save such a fragile institution IMO.
Is there anyway to keep the Protectorate going? (I admit the Civil War is not my area of expertise so this is a genuine question)
 

Uhura's Mazda

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Is there anyway to keep the Protectorate going? (I admit the Civil War is not my area of expertise so this is a genuine question)
Charles II (or James if Charles dies) would have to be well-known as a raging bellend, for starters. I don't think it's ultimately feasible without being a very different Constitutional beast from the get-go, but am willing to hear otherwise - @Ciclavex?
 

Iopgod

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Charles II (or James if Charles dies) would have to be well-known as a raging bellend,
Or (perceived as) Catholic.

being a very different Constitutional beast from the get-go
What are the chances of this? Or that they manage to stumble upon a workable constitution during one of the "reforms" to constitutional arrangements which seem to have gone on during the Protectorate?
 

Ciclavex

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Is there anyway to keep the Protectorate going? (I admit the Civil War is not my area of expertise so this is a genuine question)
Charles II (or James if Charles dies) would have to be well-known as a raging bellend, for starters. I don't think it's ultimately feasible without being a very different Constitutional beast from the get-go, but am willing to hear otherwise - @Ciclavex?
I think the main way you can keep the Protectorate going, which I’ve been exploring recently for a shorter piece I might do, is by having Cromwell last longer. He most likely died of an infection, though some contemporaries (who were probably just conspiracy-mongers) suspected poison, and while he definitely had medical issues they were ones he could have lasted quite a lot longer with, particularly if his daughter hadn’t suddenly predeceased him, which most accounts seem to indicate reduced his will to live.

If you butterfly the infection, Cromwell wasn’t even 60 when he died; if he lasts into the late 1660s as Lord Protector, I think you’ve gotten past the point where Restoration is easy — most of the generation who even remember the civil war are old, and the ones who led it on either side are either in the grave or close to it. It’s quite likely, even if there is tumult and infighting after Cromwell’s death, that Restoration either isn’t considered by anyone significant, or fails to get off the ground, and the Commonwealth lurches on through the crisis.

There’s also a number of PoDs to be had in the very early Commonwealth that could have led to a more stable government more likely to survive Cromwell’s death, but I’m not nearly versed enough in the particulars to discuss those without doing some reading first.
 

Indicus

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Just curious, what would a British republic originating in the 1830s call its head of state? Would they simply call it Prime Minister, simply giving the leader of Parliament’s largest party head of state duties? Or would the Amerophilia of Chartists result in then calling it the President? Or would the generally positive view on Cromwell at the time result in the head of state being the “Lord Protector”?
 

lordroel

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One thing that i have always asked myself, if Britain was a Republic, would be called the Republic of Britain ore something different ore new.
 

Alex Richards

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Just curious, what would a British republic originating in the 1830s call its head of state? Would they simply call it Prime Minister, simply giving the leader of Parliament’s largest party head of state duties? Or would the Amerophilia of Chartists result in then calling it the President? Or would the generally positive view on Cromwell at the time result in the head of state being the “Lord Protector”?
I could imagine them making the Lord President of the Council the Head of State.

Or potentially it would be the 'First Lord' (as in of the Treasury).
 

Archdeacon of Dunwich

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I certainly think there is potential for a British Republic to arise during the period between 1919 and 1926 as there were certainly a number of revolutionary moments that could have developed during that period of immense civil strife.
 

RyanF

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I used some kind of successful Sealion (and subsequent USSR landing in Nazi controlled Britain) and US intervention leading to a split Britain and with several royals dead, the Yanks want someone in a position of authority before the USSR can . So put Lord Mountbatten in as president.
Oh any of the 50 Shades of Sealion will probably do the trick, but I was more thinking of Britain becoming a republic through some measure of choice rather than circumstances forcing it upon them.

Shades of Leopold III here, but striking the right balance between enough to cause a serious issue, and not enough to force an abdication may be tricky - I'd be interested in seeing how you'd pull that off.
He wouldn't take the same actions as Leopold and Britain would not be invaded (but maybe Hess flies to Balmoral). I had in mind that his brothers all try to make up for his absence, leading to Henry dying during the war along with George, and Albie smokes himself to death by the late 1940s through disagreements with his brother before, during, and after the war.

I think the main way you can keep the Protectorate going, which I’ve been exploring recently for a shorter piece I might do, is by having Cromwell last longer. He most likely died of an infection, though some contemporaries (who were probably just conspiracy-mongers) suspected poison, and while he definitely had medical issues they were ones he could have lasted quite a lot longer with, particularly if his daughter hadn’t suddenly predeceased him, which most accounts seem to indicate reduced his will to live.

If you butterfly the infection, Cromwell wasn’t even 60 when he died; if he lasts into the late 1660s as Lord Protector, I think you’ve gotten past the point where Restoration is easy — most of the generation who even remember the civil war are old, and the ones who led it on either side are either in the grave or close to it. It’s quite likely, even if there is tumult and infighting after Cromwell’s death, that Restoration either isn’t considered by anyone significant, or fails to get off the ground, and the Commonwealth lurches on through the crisis.
A really interesting idea, I find myself wondering though if Monck would have to predecease Cromwell to have Restoration not be on the cards. I know he bided his time after Cromwell's death before supporting it, but considering he was a late convert to the parliamentarian cause anyway I think his heart was always for it.

What can you see following Cromwell's death in the 1660s if restoration is off the table? Another civil war?

One thing that i have always asked myself, if Britain was a Republic, would be called the Republic of Britain ore something different ore new.
Commonwealth of Britain is the stereotypical one. See Tony Benn's Commonwealth of Britain Bill; which essentially amounted to a wish list of things he would like to see.

I certainly think there is potential for a British Republic to arise during the period between 1919 and 1926 as there were certainly a number of revolutionary moments that could have developed during that period of immense civil strife.
Indeed, but shy of an actual "everyone's wearing overalls and breaking wind in the palaces of the mighty" -style revolution I think the monarchy might remain secure even if the shit does hit the fan. Look at how quickly the problems of 1919 were forgotten when the government found an external enemy to focus attention on (the IRA); likely any British revolutionary movement would flounder in the initial period. That doesn't mean seeds won't be planted for the future though.
 

Ciclavex

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A really interesting idea, I find myself wondering though if Monck would have to predecease Cromwell to have Restoration not be on the cards. I know he bided his time after Cromwell's death before supporting it, but considering he was a late convert to the parliamentarian cause anyway I think his heart was always for it.

What can you see following Cromwell's death in the 1660s if restoration is off the table? Another civil war?
On Monck, it’s possible, but I think that the Restoration wasn’t quite as likely as people tend to make out, in no small part due to the Restoration government’s own propaganda. Monck took advantage of a specific situation created by the death of Cromwell, and, with Cromwell’s death in different circumstances, that opportunity won’t necessarily arise. Even if Monck makes a play, he may lose.

There were a lot of men whose hearts were fundamentally in favor of restoration, who either had opposed or regretted the King’s execution and the formation of the Commonwealth at the end of the Civil War, but the thing is, that doesn’t make Restoration a reality. Inertia is the most powerful force known to the human species, after all - the longer England goes without a monarchy, the more the want of a monarchy is the norm rather than the exception. Well over rather than just under a decade of Cromwell’s rule could, and probably would, fundamentally alter the political stability of the Commonwealth.

Assuming that Cromwell’s died with a more stable protectorate regime left behind him, I don’t think that a civil war is immediately on the cards. He probably designates Richard as his heir, as in OTL, but this is a Richard who’s ten years older, and probably in a better position to take power; accounts of the time to me don’t really indicate that he was stupid or incompetent, but more that he was in over his head and inexperienced. He’s probably less of a commanding figure than Cromwell, and, while not a complete figurehead, he probably ends up heavily influenced by his brother, brothers-in-law and the New Model Army.

You probably do see significant unrest, almost certainly including royalist uprisings, likely in Scotland, which may lead to a separation of Scotland from England if it’s troublesome enough, but that’s not likely in my mind. Another civil war is a definite possibility, but that civil war could very well be between different, fundamentally republican factions, rather than a royalist versus republican civil war. In the longer term, you may see a fundamentally Dutch-like republic, with “Protectorists” or “Cromwellites” supporting a powerful Cromwell family and its female-line cadet branches, against “Republicans” or “Commonwealthites” who oppose the power of the Lord Protector in favor of a more powerful House of Commons, and that fight could last for quite a long while indeed, and may, as with the OTL Netherlands, end up with a Cromwell down the line on the throne anyway.
 
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