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Brit Official: Not Fan of Monarchy

June 27, 2000

LONDON (AP) _ A prominent government minister has stirred controversy by saying she is ``not a great fan″ of the monarchy and by calling for the royal family to be moved to modern accommodations.

``I don’t suggest that the royal family should close down and shut up shop, but if people want a monarch of the new century they should have a palace of the new century, in line with the architecture you see around London,″ Cabinet minister Mo Mowlam said in an interview with Saga, a magazine aimed at Britons 50 and older.

``I am not a great fan of the monarchy, even though I like Prince Charles and I like Princess Anne, and exchanges I have had with the queen have been very pleasant,″ Mowlam said.

In the interview, published in Saga’s July issue, Mowlam said she felt the monarchy’s role would eventually be redefined through constitutional change.

``The public aren’t of a like mind yet, so it won’t happen yet,″ she said. ``But it will come. It will evolve. I think the queen realizes this. That is why Prince Charles is becoming a potential leader of the people.″

The popular Cabinet minister, known for her bluntness, was moved to the Cabinet Office from the high-profile position of Northern Ireland secretary last year, sparking speculation she was being sidelined by Prime Minister Tony Blair. Her outspokenness is said to make some Labor Party leaders nervous.

Mowlam’s comments in the Saga interview drew criticism from historian and constitutional expert David Starkey, who said a Cabinet minister should not make casual remarks about the constitution.

``Either it is government policy or it is not _ Cabinet ministers cannot have personal views,″ Starkey said.

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