Emma Dent Coad, the Labour MP whose constituency covers Kensington Palace and the burnt-out remains of Grenfell Tower, told the Republic convention that the royal family should do more to highlight inequality in her borough.
Dent Coad, who is also a councillor in Kensington and Chelsea, pointed out that her ward was the joint poorest in London. “What does Diana’s youngest son think of that?” she asked the convention.
She also claimed the royal family had done virtually nothing for those who survived the Grenfell fire. She said:
100 families are still stuck in hotels with some children regressing with appalling mental health and dropping out of school and university. Grenfell has had visits from the royals, and it is very sweet of them to come, but it hasn’t helped at all around Grenfell.
She added: “They are not allowed to be political. All they are allowed to do is wear beautiful clothes and be nice to people, which doesn’t work for me.”
I’m more impressed by the charity work by local celebrities we have seen at Grenfell, who have arrived in limousines rolled up their sleeves and scrubbed the toilets out for an entire day. I won’t tell you who that was, but it was a very famous singer.
But Dent Coad said survivors of the fire did not want charity from royals or celebrities. She said: “It is the most unequal borough in Britain and most people who are just struggling to keep going don’t want charity, they want their dues, they want their fair share, they want decent wages so they can pay their bills and put food on the table. They want justice, not charity.”
Responding to a question from the audience about converting Buckingham Palace into accommodation for homeless people, Dent Coad said: “I think that’s a lovely idea.”
She pointed out that the palace includes 80 bedrooms and a further 100 or more staff bedrooms. But Dent Coad said the priority should be freeing up 1,600 empty homes in Kensington and Chelsea.
Labour MP Emma Dent Coad says the royal family have done virtually nothing for the survivors of the Grenfell tower fire @RepublicStaff pic.twitter.com/1rcsxtw2kG
May 19, 2018
Graham Smith, chief executive of the anti-monarchy group Republic, has defended hosting the annual European Republic convention on the same day as the wedding.
In his speech to the conference, he said: “It is the best day to being doing this conference because everybody, not just republicans, are thinking about the monarchy. This event is a chance to tell the media to think about the monarchy differently and see it as politics, not entertainment.”
He said Republic’s message to the media was to “stop treating the monarchy as something that is uncontested and unchallenged”.
He added: “There was a recent poll which found that it was now a minority among 18- to 34-year-olds who support the continuation of the monarchy. Whether that poll holds up I don’t know, but it gives us hope for the future.”
Closing his speech, he said: “We know we are not yet a nation of republicans, but we are definitely not a nation of royalists, either. And everything is to play for.”
Graham Smith head of @RepublicStaff ‘we are not yet a nation of republicans but we are definitely not a nation of royalist either. Everything is to play for.’ pic.twitter.com/WdcBOe7uXE
May 19, 2018