0729-Royalty

Harry and Meghan’s Sussex title was ‘unfairly acquired’ and should be ignored, Brighton and Hove council to consider.

The Sussex title held by Harry and Meghan was “unfairly acquired” and should be ignored, a bizarre debate due to come before Brighton and Hove council will hear on Thursday. Councillors are expected to consider a petition demanding the local authority boycotts the Royal couple’s title after thousands of people supported the cause online. Written on behalf of “residents of Brighton and Hove”, it calls on the council to reject “the usage” of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex title, which is “disrespectful to the county of East Sussex”. The Dukedom held by Harry is said to be “entirely non-democratic” and “symbolic of the oppression of the general public by the wealthy elite”.

After a meteoric rise, the petition has become the third most-supported online in the council’s history, with 3,800 signatures. But it is a political crusade of somewhat unlikely origins. Charles Ross, the 54-year-old steward behind the campaign, admitted he had set it up when he was “bored” and expressed surprise it was now the focus of a political debate.  Any petition with more than 1,250 signatures must be debated by the full council under internal rules – a figure that Mr Ross’s petition has more than tripled. It is to be the fifth item on the agenda when Brighton and Hove City Council meet at 4.30pm and will include a three-minute speech automatically granted to the principal petitioner. Mr Ross told The Daily Telegraph: “I have been a long-standing republican, but I didn’t particularly take up the cause – I think I was bored one evening, if you want me to be honest. “I started a petition and I didn’t realise what a ball I would start rolling.”

Despite now being the figurehead of an apparent republican uprising on the south coast, Mr Ross admitted he had no links to political or campaigning groups on the issue. “I literally did it off my own back,” he said. It is understood no politicians were required to sponsor the petition for it to be debated and Mr Ross has not been contacted directly by the council about its contents. He joked: “I imagine they are probably keeping their heads down.”  Outlining what his address to the council chamber might contain, he continued: “Basically I will be espousing the fact that if politicians believe in a free society then they should not be according special privileges to people that have inherited titles. “My point is that I’ve got nothing against Harry and Meghan personally.” Other less impressed residents of Sussex have called into question the wisdom of the council in choosing to stage such a debate. The petition was condemned online as an “embarrassment”, a “waste of time”, with one Twitter user suggesting  “the guy starting the petition needs to grow up”. Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills, founder of the British Monarchists Society, went as far as to claim the petition was indicative of a troubling rebel movement brewing in the region. He said: “We are utterly dismayed that said petition has been signed by so many. “This certainly highlights that Brighton and Hove is a hotbed of Republican dissidents and is now proven to be so. “Brighton and Hove should not pander to minority treachery and should not further entertain such a petition as proposed.” But Mr Ross remained resolute. He said: “I think if (the council) are fair and reasonable, they should act upon it – if they truly hold to people’s democracy they should follow through. “But I have my doubts that they will.”