SOME 66% of those voting in a live television debate last night were in favour of the monarchy. In the telephone poll with the question: "Do you want a monarch?", nearly 2.5 million people called to register their vote.
In front of a 3,000-strong audience at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre, republicans and monarchists aired their opinions on the ITV programme Monarchy, The Nation Decides.
Some 2.5 million people registered their vote, with 66 per cent in favour of the Royal Family, and 34 per cent against them. However, Britain was divided on the issue, with England and Wales supporting the monarchy, while Scotland was definitely against the Royal Family. In Northern Ireland 64 per cent were in favour of a monarchy and 36 per cent against.
This telephone poll contradicted the results of a MORI poll, which was conducted in conjunction with the programme and revealed that 79 per cent of people believed the Royal Family should pay its own way.
Nearly half of those polled, 48 per cent, believed the monarchy would not survive another 50 years, while 35 per cent said they did not support the Royal Family. Only 3 per cent said the monarchy meant something to them and more than a third believed Prince Charles would be a bad king.
However, 17 per cent favoured Princess Anne as Britain's first president, while 15 per cent suggested the businessman, Mr Richard Branson, should head a British republic.
Amid much audience heckling the two sides argued their views on every aspect of the monarchy. The republican camp was led by Professor Stephen Haseler, the chairman of the pressure group, Republic; Mrs Claire Rayner, the agony aunt; Mr Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for West Newport; and Mr Andrew Neil, the former editor of the Sunday Times newspaper.
The monarchist camp included Mr Frederick Forsyth, the author; Mr Bernie Grant, the Labour MP for Tottenham; and Lord Archer, the former Conservative Party deputy chairman.
Conservative MP Steven Norris had been due to appear in a discussion near the end of the show, but Carlton officials said he had left without explanation.
Mr Norris, who walked out after half-an-hour, said: "I think it was utterly trivial and patronising."