IT is bad enough for The Sun to be cruel about Prince Edward and his wife Sophie's sex life.
But the fact that she was tricked into indiscretions by a News of the World reporter in disguise does not justify you calling for an end to the monarchy.
In recent editorials The Sun has claimed that there are "closet republicans" in Downing Street and that after the election you "will want them to speak out". Why?
Why get rid of one of the few British institutions that works really well?
Ours is the oldest monarchy in Europe. It has constantly changed with the times in order to retain consent. That is its genius.
There has been a social revolution in Britain since the Queen came to the throne in 1952.
This is now a multicultural society based on enterprise, not birth.
Monarchy has not hindered that. Indeed, having a head of state beyond and outside politics has really helped the country to change democratically and peacefully.
Before the Queen was crowned, she pledged to serve the country always; she has kept that promise.
She has now been on the throne for 49 years, she is 74 and, unlike most OAPs, she still works on and on and on, week after week, year after year.
Among her many duties, she heads the Army (which loves her) and countless charities (which depend on her) and she has assisted each of her ten Prime Ministers since Winston Churchill.
Every Prime Minister has praised her guidance at their private weekly meetings. They have all known that the Queen is the one person who will never leak their views and never stab them in the back.
They also know she has the national interest, not party politics, at heart.
Recently, Tony Blair may well have told her of his concerns over foot-and-mouth; she may have recounted her memories of the epidemic of 1967. They may have discussed the date of the election.
One thing is certain; the Queen will not have told Blair what to do, despite your claim on March 23.
She has no power; she can just advise and warn on the basis of her vast knowledge.
The Sun says that the Queen's role in our democracy is "an international embarrassment." Rubbish!
She has never done anything to embarrass this country. She is greatly admired by statesmen as different as Ronald Reagan, Boris Yeltsin and Nelson Mandela.
There are many republics with corrupt or irrelevant "revolving door" presidents where the people envy the stable continuity of our constitutional monarchy.
It is part of the country's DNA; we would lose it at our peril.
The polls show that, despite the ups and downs of her family in recent years, the overwhelming majority of the British people still support the monarchy. That means the majority of Sun readers do too.
Next year will be the Queen's Golden Jubilee. Her achievements and our luck in having such a superb head of state will be celebrated not just by Britons but by all who wish the United Kingdom well.
The Sun should celebrate it too.
Respected author William Shawcross is currently writing a book and preparing a TV series for the BBC about the Queen's 50-year reign.
Copyright The Sun, 2001.
Columns Archive 2001