If any person whatsoever shall, within the United Kingdom or without, compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend to deprive or depose our Most Gracious Lady the Queen, from the style, honour, or royal name of the imperial crown of the United Kingdom, or of any other of her Majesty’s dominions and countries, or to levy war against her Majesty, within any part of the United Kingdom, in order by force or constraint to compel her to change her measures or counsels, or in order to put any force or constraint upon or in order to intimidate or overawe both Houses or either House of Parliament, or to move or stir any foreigner or stranger with force to invade the United Kingdom or any other of her Majesty’s dominions or countries under the obeisance of her Majesty, and such compassings, imaginations, inventions, devices, or intentions, or any of them, shall express, utter, or declare, by publishing any printing or writing … or by any overt act or deed, every person so offending shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable … to be transported beyond the seas for the term of his or her natural life.
When you touch upon the subject of the Queen of England here in the backwaters of New Zealand, I have found, things start to stir. It is as if you touch a mental mist and it starts to move and while you can’t see into that mist the feeling is that it travels a long distance. It is a cold and dark feeling and I don’t do it often for that reason. It feels me with dread.
Turns out that may not be an insensible idea. It turns out that for some strange unfathomable and cringingly embarrassing reason the law which forbids to promote a republic and merely contemplating the demise of the royal household is punishable with life in in the colonies, has not been dismissed even after it had been repealed. Now why would that be I wonder!
The government has confirmed that republicanism is still punishable by life imprisonment and that it remains illegal to even ‘imagine’ overthrowing the Queen.
The revelation comes as the Ministry of Justice embarrassingly admitted that a law threatening to jail for life anyone who has called for the abolition of the monarchy had been mistakenly included on a list of 309 offences due to be repealed before May.
Although the law has not been used to prosecute anyone since 1879, it means that it is still theoretically possible to imprison for life anybody who even so much as “imagines” overthrowing the Crown or waging war against the Queen.