NORMALLY you can count on support for the monarchy being boosted by big occasions like a royal wedding, or indeed a coronation. At such times the public relations offensive in favour of our unelected head of state goes into hyperdrive.

The BBC becomes the Royal ­Broadcasting Corporation, the press vies to outdo each other with royal trivia and titillation, and ­almost ­ every retailer in the land tries to cash in with ­commemorative ­merchandise. ­Wall-to-wall ­positive spin. ­Twenty-four seven. If an ­institution can’t win a popularity contest ­under these circumstances, it probably ought to give up.

And yet, maybe the times they are a-changin’. There are ­ominous signs of restlessness amongst ­people ­throughout the kingdom – and ­nowhere more so than in its ­“northern province”. The bunting lies unsold. Three-quarters of the population tell pollsters that they are not bothered about the coronation. And Netflix counts the cash as people desert the Beeb in droves.

The coronation looks more like an unwanted party, forced upon an ­unwilling populace than a spontaneous celebration by loyal subjects.

YouGov recently asked ­people whether we should keep the ­monarchy or replace it with an elected head of state. Across the UK, 58% support keeping the monarchy, with 26% preferring an elected head of state.

Amongst young ­people, a majority (38%) want the monarchy gone as ­opposed to 32% who would keep it. And in Scotland, only 43% said we should keep the monarchy – ­making us the least loyal place in the UK. Amongst young Scots, only one in five are well disposed towards the Windsors.

Constitutionally, today’s coronation isn’t necessary. Charles is already King. The legal niceties could ­easily have been done behind closed doors on a wet Tuesday afternoon at no cost to anyone. The decision to have a massive public event replete with pomp and pageantry is entirely about ­raising awareness and boosting ­support for His Royal Highness. And it’s not cheap. The final bill for ­“Operation Golden Orb” as it is called will come in at somewhere ­between £50 million and £100m.

This must be something of a ­headache for the palace. They don’t appear to be getting the bump in the polls they might have wanted. At least they can console themselves that it hasn’t cost them a penny – that’s on us.

Some of this they bring on themselves. Most families are dysfunctional. But for this sort of money, you’d think they’d refrain from airing their dirty laundry in public. And yet, Prince ­Harry’s court disclosure last week that his father tried to prevent him going after News Group ­Newspapers because he wanted The Sun to support his accession reads like the script of an episode of Succession.

READ MORE: Choose your top pick for Scotland's first elected President

And some of it is due to ­circumstances beyond their control. Of course, we can’t lay the pandemic, war, energy shortages and the rampant rise in the cost of living at the door of the royals. But all these things have created nightmares for the ­masses, which make lavish celebrations by the elite look ill-judged.

But it’s also the result of a real ­generational change in attitudes. We are not as deferential as we once were. Respect must be earned. ­Leaders must be ­accountable. ­Challenges like ­tackling climate change and ­developing new ­technology ­require humanity to work together as ­engaged citizens in which old feudal arrangements just don’t work. All of this is only going in one direction. Support for reform will increase as Generation Z grow old.

Today will likely be peak royal. Across the former empire, people are deciding to put the monarchy in a box marked history. More and more countries are embracing a ­republican future, with change sweeping the one-time colonies of Australia and Canada. It’s time to have that grown-up conversation here too.

Monarchists rarely seek to justify a hereditary head of state in terms of what’s the best form of ­government in a democratic society. That’s a tough gig. Instead, they will attempt to ­rubbish the alternatives. “Just ­imagine if Boris or Farage were ­elected president!” they cry. The idea is to create doubt that anything ­better could be put in its place and then ­suggest that change isn’t really worth the effort.

They will then tell you the monarch doesn’t really wield power anyway and that the royal family brings in flocks of tourists. We need to dispel these arguments. It’s not hard.

Tourists visit buildings and places because of their history and architecture, not the current inhabitants. Versailles is the most visited royal palace in Europe and there’s not been a monarch in residence for quite some time.

READ MORE: 'Terrible' night for Tories as Keir Starmer hails local election wins

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the King has no power. Royal ­Consent. Royal Assent. The ­monarch plays a significant role in the ­introduction and passage of legislation. It’s true that the monarch will almost always do the bidding of the government of the day and that the ­unelected ­nature of the institution does mean the role exercises less power than many elected heads of state. But that’s not a good thing.

A head of state chosen by the ­people could play an important role in a ­modern democratic process of government and could speak with legitimacy and authority on the big issues of the day such as climate and equality. The King cannot. In many ways that gives us the worst of both worlds.

Republicanism isn’t motivated by jealousy, as monarchists often suggest. Nor is the argument for reform anything to do with the character or competence of King Charles. It is about the right to choose our leaders, and the right to hold them to account.