In 1848 the Parliament of England passed the Treason Felony Act. This law made it a high crime, punishable by exile, to write or say anything about removing the monarchy - even by peaceful means.

This law remains on the books today and a small furor was instigated by the editor of The Guardian in spring 2001 when he sought assurances from the Attorney General that he would not be prosecuted if he ran a series of articles arguing that Britain should be given the choice of whether to keep the royal family or to become a republic. The Attorney General declined to say whether prosecution might occur.

In the 1800's, the Treason Felony Act was one of the main weapons used to incarcerate Irishmen who sought independence for Ireland. In the United States during the 1790's there was a comparable law, the Sedition Act, passed under President John Adams. The Sedition Act expired in March, 1801.

The complete text of the Treason Felony Act of 1848:

Offences herein mentioned declared to be felonies

If any person whatsoever shall, within the United Kingdom or without, compass, imagine, invent, devise or 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 of counsels, or in order to put any force or constraint upon her 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.

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