Celebs Who Can't Stand The Royal Family

When a major royal event takes place in Britain, the images of public joy broadcast around the world make it appear as though the nation is united in its adoration of the royal family, but not every U.K. native approves of the monarchy. Republicanism in Britain has a history stretching back to the mid-1600s, when Oliver Cromwell oversaw the execution of King Charles I and was named Lord Protector of the short-lived Commonwealth of England. After the monarchy regained power, Cromwell's body was dug up and symbolically executed, but anti-royal sentiments were never fully eradicated.

Some of Great Britain's most beloved sons and daughters have been anti-royalists. John Lennon famously returned his MBE to the queen in protest against the nation's endorsement of the Vietnam War, and many other famous people have followed that example, refusing royal honors and questioning the value of the monarchy. From Hollywood actors to iconic musicians, these are the celebs that simply can't stand the royal family.

Russell Brand says her majesty is not majestic

Comedian-turned-actor Russell Brand is perhaps best known for recovering from serious drug addiction and having a who's-who list of ex-lovers on the world stage, but at home in Britain, he is also well known for bashing the royal family. Brand has used his YouTube show The Trews to champion a movement to end the monarchy on more than one occasion, but it was the content of his book, Revolution, that really got the royalists raging.

"I mean in England we have a Queen for f***'s sake," Brand said. "We have to call her things like 'Your Majesty' like she's all majestic. She's just a person. 'Your Highness'! What the f*** is that? She's high up, above us, at the top of a class pyramid on a shelf of money with her own face on it." The Daily Mail, who printed excerpts from Brand's book, asked if the provocative comic could sink any lower. He could.  

Brand criticized the queen's German heritage even called her a Nazi. "We should be calling her Mrs. Windsor," he said. "In fact that's not even her real name, they changed it in the war to distract us from the inconvenient fact that they were as German as the enemy ... Her actual name is Mrs Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. It's the most German thing I've ever heard — she might've well as been called 'Mrs Bratwurst-Kraut-Nazi.'"

Danny Boyle thinks the royal spotlight is 'ludicrous'

Speaking of J.K. Rowling: there's one Oscar-winning film director who thinks that she should replace the queen as the British head of state. Yes, you read that correctly. That director is Danny Boyle, who made headlines in the U.K. when he told The Guardian that the Queen should be replaced by an elected leader and suggested that Rowling would be fit for the job. "It's a ludicrous spotlight they're under," he said of the royal family under the monarchy system. "You can still have a royal family if you like ... but actually have an elected head of state."

Boyle was already well known in his native country after his best director win for 2008's Slumdog Millionaire, but he was put under the national spotlight when he was selected to direct the opening ceremony of London's 2012 Olympic Games. His work on the event received overwhelming praise and led to him being offered a knighthood, though he shocked the adoring public by turning the honor down. "Not my cup of tea, never has been," Boyle said. "I believe in being an equal citizen rather than a preferred subject." 

The filmmaker believes the British monarchy will be abolished in his lifetime, but he has applauded Queen Elizabeth II for her involvement in a short film Boyle directed for the Olympics.

Colin Firth takes issue with 'unelected bodies'

Colin Firth won the 2011 Academy Award for best actor for his brilliant performance as George VI in The King's Speech, an ironic win given his stance as a British republican. Firth told compatriot Piers Morgan on CNN that he enjoyed playing King George, and the actor also had some kind words to say about the work that Prince Charles was doing for the country. However, when asked if he was a monarchist, the actor let his true colors show.

"I really like voting," Firth said flatly. "It's one of my favorite things." As for unelected bodies? "It's a problem for me," Firth said. The actor was also part of the campaign for the United Kingdom to remain a part of the European Union, calling the idea of Brexit "a disaster of unexpected proportions." When Brexit became a reality, the actor applied for (and received) Italian citizenship, so he could have the same passport as his wife and children.

Honor Blackman declines a royal honor

Honor Blackman built a career playing femme fatale-types on the back of her breakout role in the first two seasons of The Avengers. This '60s spy show was known for its forward thinking in terms of female characters, and Cathy Gale (Blackman) was its prototype, a sexy judo expert with a PhD in anthropology. Fans of the show were reportedly outraged when Blackman left to take on what ultimately would become her most iconic role — Pussy Galore in Goldfinger.

She went on to have a long and varied career in the industry and celebrated her 90th birthday in 2015, when The Independent ran a piece explaining why modern female action stars "owe a debt" to Blackman. The actress remains as tough today as she was back then, and she certainly isn't afraid to rock the boat where the royal family is concerned. In 2014, she was offered the chance to become a CBE (Commander of the British Empire,) but she turned down the honor. "They ring you beforehand to ask if you'd like to accept, and I think they were quite shocked when I declined," she said (via the Daily Mail). "But since I'm a republican I thought it would be somewhat hypocritical to pop up to the Palace. Not like Sean [Connery], who accepts a knighthood but never comes here, doesn't pay tax here and supported a yes vote in the referendum. But I don't think he thinks deeply about politics." Meow!

Eddie Izzard isn't 'into royalty'

Eddie Izzard was known across the U.K. for years as a comedian who appeared on stage (and in public) in extensive makeup and women's clothing. It would have seemed inconceivable at the time that he would someday play the part of Queen Victoria's eldest son, Bertie, Prince of Wales. According to The Guardian, Izzard's showbiz reputation began to change when he landed a role in the Broadway show A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. Gigs in blockbusters such as Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen followed, and in 2017, he became a royal for Stephen Frears' Victoria and Abdul

However, as we saw with Colin Firth, playing a royal doesn't mean you approve of the royals. The actor told Metro during press for the film that monarchy "doesn't make sense in the 21st century" and said that he "wasn't into royalty." This republican attitude will apparently be central to his bid to become mayor of London in 2020. "Hereditary privilege is crazy to me," the aspiring politician told The Independent. "We should widen the gene pool, and elect a head of state for five years."

Morrissey dubs the queen the 'ultimate dictator'

Morrissey, former lead singer of cult '80s band The Smiths, has long been considered one of the greatest living Brits. In 2006, he came in at No. 2 in a BBC poll, finishing behind veteran broadcaster David Attenborough but ahead of The Beatles bassist Paul McCartney. One list he will always top is famous anti-royalists. "The Queen is Dead" is considered an anti-monarchy anthem, and since going solo, Morrissey's views on the royals have only hardened.

In 2011, the indie icon told The Telegraph the queen is the "ultimate dictator," claiming that "if the British people decided tomorrow that the Queen must go, then the Queen wouldn't hesitate to turn her tanks on the British people. It would happen."

It isn't just Queen Elizabeth II that Morrissey loathes. In 2014, he released a scathing letter about Prince William, who'd been spotted on a hunting trip with brother Harry just days after publicly criticizing poachers in Africa. "William is too thickwit to realize that animals such as tigers and rhino are only driven to near extinction because people who are precisely like himself and his brother have shot them off the map — all in the name of sport and slaughter," the vegan musician wrote (via StereoGum). "We can only pray to God that their hunting guns backfire in their faces."

Tracey Ullman wants a 'bicycling monarchy'

English-American comic Tracey Ullman is perhaps better known in the United States than she is in the United Kingdom, having left the British Isles to conquer America in the mid-1980s. The Tracey Ullman Show (which famously gave birth to The Simpsons) debuted in 1987 and made her an instant star Stateside, but it would be a whopping 30 long years before she returned to British television screens. Despite not being in-country for all those years, Ullman has remained vocal about the way the U.K. is run.

In 1998, she sat down for an interview with the The New York Times, who asked the multi-talented foreigner if she was a republican. "I am, I am," she answered. "An MP (Member of Parliament) once suggested I be put in the Tower of London for saying derogatory things about the royals. There's no First Amendment in my country. I love your Bill of Rights." The actress also said the U.K. should adopt the bicycling monarchy approach taken by other European countries to save money, and that royals should be able to step down instead of being forced into royal service. "Why should they have to? There are loads of people willing. One of those weird cousins, no doubt."

Ullman has lampooned several members of the royal family with her dead-on impersonations over the years, from Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth to Princess Margaret and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Jeremy Corbyn thinks this queen should be the last

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party and the current opposition to British Prime Minister Theresa May, is a left-wing politician whose meteoric rise against the odds over the past few years has captured the imagination of millions, not just in the U.K. but Stateside too. Hollywood actors Mark Ruffalo and Danny DeVito have both backed Corbyn publicly. Fellow lefty politician Bernie Sanders has also admitted to being a Corbynista, openly admiring the way he has "taken on the establishment" in his own party. 

Challenging powerful people inevitably means facing scrutiny yourself, however, and it wasn't long before Corbyn's controversial views on the monarchy were made public. He was castigated by the media in 2015, after he refused to sing "God Save the Queen" during a Battle of Britain memorial event, and in 2017, an old interview was unearthed in which Corbyn called for the royal family to be dissolved. "I think it's time that we just moved on and said, when the Queen completes her reign, wouldn't that be an appropriate time to call it a day and have an elected head of state," Corbyn told GMTV (via the Express). "A large majority of Labour MPs would like to see a change in the attitude of the monarchy and the way the royal family operates."

Johnny Marr can't stand the queen's resting 'blech' face

The main creative talents behind the Smiths were singer-songwriter Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr. While the two often disagreed about the direction of the band, they did agree on one thing: a seething resentment of the British royal family lording over their homeland.

In a 2011 interview with NME magazine (via the Express), Marr said that he has "a few problems with the monarchy, from serious to less serious." One thing about the queen that bugs Marr: her resting "blech" face. "Why does she have to deal with her subjects with such a dour face? Surely her life can't be that hard," he said. The guitarist is apparently worried that her appearance might reflect her personality. "I can't think of too many examples of overt empathy and compassion — they just don't come to mind." 

When asked if he'd accept an honor or title from her majesty, such as a knighthood or being named a member of the "Order of the British Empire," Marr emphatically replied, "F*** no!"

Mike Leigh thinks hereditary rule has run its course

This acclaimed English filmmaker is routinely Oscar-nominated for his work, which includes quiet dramas (Vera Drake), quirky indies (Happy-Go-Lucky), biopics (Mr. Turner) and spectacles (Topsy-Turvy). Mike Leigh has a lot of interests and likes a lot of things, but don't expect him to direct a glowing movie about Prince Charles anytime soon because Leigh is decidedly anti-monarchy. He may not have anything personal against specific members of the royal family, but he's part of the Republican movement, which supports transforming the government from a constitutional monarchy into one with a purely elected head of state, similar to the system used in the United States. 

In a 2002 interview with The Guardian, Leigh called the monarchy "a ludicrous anachronism" and argued that "the hereditary aspect of the monarchy is completely untenable, and can't be sustained in the 21st century." We suspect he doesn't have an opinion on Meghan Markle's dress then.

Noel Gallagher says the royals are 'clowns'

The Gallagher brothers of Oasis are as famous for hating things — particularly each other — as they are for their '90s alternative rock classic "Wonderwall" and the ironically titled "Don't Look Back in Anger." After lots of internal feuding, Oasis broke up in 2009, and Liam and Noel Gallagher have apparently been estranged since.

Perhaps the one thing Noel Gallagher hates more than Liam Gallagher: the royal family. A 2000 interview with Guitar Player recalls that Gallagher once called the royals "clowns" and called for abolishing the monarchy. In a 2015 round-up of the the many, many things Noel has publicly derided, Rolling Stone published a quote attributed to the Britpop star that falls right in his wheelhouse where anger and wit merge: "I wouldn't wish the royal family dead, just seriously maimed. I'd take a couple legs off."

Philip Pullman promotes a 'part-time monarchy'

The author of the bestselling children's fantasy series His Dark Materials is decidedly not a fan of culturally embedded paternalistic authority. Not only is one of the central conceits of His Dark Materials a quest to literally kill God, but Pullman is also not into the idea of a line of kings and queens ruling Britannia. However, unlike others who resent the royals because they hold power based solely on ancestry, Pullman is anti-monarchy because of the personal burden it places on the royal family.

"No individual and no family should be subject to the pressures of publicity and expectation that have beset the Windsors," Pullman told The Guardian. He particularly laments the fate of Prince William, who had "no life to look forward to: just a lifetime of prurient intrusion, misery, and unfulfilment." Pullman suggested a "part-time monarchy," where a king could have a career of his own choosing and just report for ceremonial duties "four times a year." Nice work if you can get it.

The Sex Pistols made a mockery of her majesty

Lots of celebrities have said nasty things about the royal family, but few have put their money where their mouths are quite like the Sex Pistols did in 1977. That year marked Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee, a year-long celebration of her 25 years on the throne. On June 7, a rented boat called the Queen Elizabeth chugged through London down the Thames River, with the Sex Pistols (and many other anti-establishment writers and artists) aboard. Ostensibly a promotion for their extremely sarcastic second single, "God Save the Queen," the stunt also served to preemptively mock the staid royal river procession planned just days later, reported Mashable.

As night fell, the Sex Pistols took to the boat's stage and launched into the gleefully vitriolic "Anarchy in the U.K." while passing by the parliament building. As the punk rockers continued with their set, police boats cornered the Queen Elizabeth, power was cut off, and the vessel had to dock. The band's manager reportedly fought with police while the band slipped away into the night and the remaining passengers rioted. It was, to say the least, anarchy in the U.K.

Daniel Radcliffe: fierce patriot and critic of the crown

When people who aren't from the U.K. are asked what they know about the country, one of the first topics to come up (after the royal family, of course) is Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling's series of novels became a worldwide phenomenon after Warner Bros. began adapting them for the big screen in the early 2000s, rejuvenating the British film industry and creating a spike in U.K. tourism. The main star of the movie franchise, however, doesn't actually agree with how Great Britain is being run.

When the Daily Beast asked actor Daniel Radcliffe if he was a royalist, he answered, "Not at all. I am definitely a republican in the British sense of the word. I just don't see the use of the monarchy, though I'm a fierce patriot. I'm proud proud proud of being English, but I think the monarchy symbolizes a lot of what was wrong with the country."

The actor also added that he was one of many Brits offended by Prince Harry's decision to wear a Nazi uniform (complete with a swastika armband) to a fancy costume party in 2005. "My dad is Northern Irish and my mum is Jewish," he said. "That's working blood. Though I am not religious in the least, I am very proud to be Jewish."