ANTI-monarchy campaigners have staged a protest outside Westminster Abbey for the Commonwealth Day service.

The service is held on the second day of March every year and marks the start of a week-long series of events and activities happening around the globe including faith and civic gatherings, debates, school assemblies and flag-raising ceremonies.

The event celebrates the “people and cultures” of the Commonwealth nations – an association of 54 member states from across the world.

But the atmosphere around the Abbey – where the service has been held since 1972 – is one of intense scrutiny as protesters from Republic have gathered to make their voices heard about the future of the monarchy.

The group has hailed a "great turnout" on social media with pictures of dozens of people demonstrating against the royal family. 

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Campaigners have been holding signs saying “Down With The Crown” and “Abolish The Monarchy” with Prince William and Queen Camilla both set to attend this afternoon’s service.

A message has been recorded to mark Commonwealth Day by the King and will be played at the service. 

Republic has been staging a series of protests for the past year focussing on significant royal engagements.

The National:

Graham Smith, Republic CEO, said the royals need to stop using the Commonwealth as a "vehicle for their PR".

He said: "Fewer than one in 10 Commonwealth citizens have Charles as their head of state. The Commonwealth has very little to do with the royals.

"The royals need to stop using the Commonwealth as a vehicle for their own PR. The platitudes we hear from Charles and Camilla only serve to paper over serious concerns about human rights abuses and a lack of democracy in many Commonwealth countries.

"Many Commonwealth countries, notably in the Caribbean, are talking about ditching the royals while demanding reparations from Charles.

"The royal family funded, promoted and defended slavery for centuries, and then presided over an empire that caused untold damage to people's lives that continues to have an impact to this day.

"Here in the UK support for the monarchy has fallen sharply. For those below the age of 45 there are now more wanting a republic than the monarchy. That's why Republic is growing and why these protests will continue."

The National:

There are questions over the continued relevance of the Commonwealth given that the vast majority of members are republics while a handful of others have their own monarchy. Just 15 member states have the King as head of state, and several of those have indicated they wish to become republics in the future.

A Savanta poll last week showed 42% of those aged under 45 would now prefer an elected head of state in the UK.

The service also comes amid huge controversy over a family photo released on Mother’s Day of Kate Middleton with her three children.

The photo was pulled by several picture agencies over concerns it had been manipulated before being posted on social media.

Kate – who has been keeping out of the public eye since having abdominal surgery two months ago - has since admitted to “experimenting with editing” and has apologised for confusion over the image.

But Republic campaigners have rejected the explanation saying it’s “a press office attempt to say as little as possible”.

Smith said it could be seen as “dystopian behaviour” by the royals and could cause “serious damage” to the monarchy.