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Monarchy Report Makes Waves

Should Queen Elizabeth II be stripped of even her ceremonial political role?

Should the public actually vote on whether Prince Charles should be king?

Should the Queen Mother wait months or years, like everyone else, for a hip operation from the state medical services?

The answer to all these questions is yes, according to a think-tank report that is making waves in Britain these days.

CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips reports that the report by a think tank very close to Tony Blair's Labor government includes some radical ideas for modernizing the monarchy.

There is great pressure on the British monarchy to modernize itself, particularly in light of the public unhappiness with the way the queen handled Princess Diana's 1997 death. The think tank says reform is the way to preserve, not destroy, the monarchy.

"It's a way of giving the monarchy the tools they need to stand up and say, "I'm here, because the people support me,'which is what the queen herself said on her golden wedding anniversary," explains the report's author, Mark Leonard.

The queen has indeed talked of the need to be more sensitive to the public will and has made an effort to seem more common, even visiting a typical English pub.

However, the dea of taking away the monarch's powers to appoint the prime minister and giving them to the speaker of the House of Commons, as the report by the think tank suggests, is seen as unnecessary and risky.

"We don't need further legislation on the monarchy," said historian Vernon Bogdanor. "It works perfectly well at the moment. The idea of a referendum is foolish. You only have a referendum when the government decides it needs to consult people on the items of policy."

Blair's government already has distanced itself from the report.

Meanwhile, polls show that the public wants substantial change in the monarchy, but there is no general consensus on how profound that change should be or how quickly it should happen.