Long Live The Queen: Why we need the Royals

God-Save-the-QueenIf you want to read the other side of this argument, click here!

As a Belfast-boy, writing an article on why we need the royal family may divided a few people on my friends list, but please do bear with me. I am not a royalist, I am not  necessarily Republican, or Unionist truth be told, all I ever want is for the issues that affect Northern Ireland to be recognised and dealt with. So, I sit here, Pomp and Circumstance by Elgar playing in the background for inspiration hoping to be able to bring some reasons to why we need Queen Liz, or at least shouldn’t be so quick to be off with her!

To call for the removal of the Windsor family you need one of two things, either prove that there is public consensus that they should be removed or prove that they are doing legitimate damage. Considering for the past twenty years public opinion has been relatively stable for the monarchy then we need to look at whether or not they are actually harmful.

When asked their opinion, those who object to the monarchy often bring up a number of grievances; they cost a fortune, they are symbolic of oppression and classism, their existence as a quasi-executive means they leave open a rather terrifying undemocratic loophole in which Queenie can refuse to give royal assent to any bill that parliament passes, and they cost a fortune (it’s talked about enough to be mentioned twice…).

So, let’s look at these issues. They cost a fortune: this is impossible to back up firmly as you just can’t put a price on the Royal brand. Just claiming that tax money goes towards their upkeep, quoting figures like “£304 million for restorations to Buckingham palace” does not a case build! Truth is, yes, we are increasing the amount we spend on them by 10% over the next three years, however, this is to pay for the restorations of the palace. The rest of the money goes towards paying for things like state functions, and keeping Liz fed and clothed. It is important to note that it is cheaper for the Monarchy to provide state dinners for foreign dignitaries than it is with Presidents, plus it often distracts elected state officials from doing the job we gave them the mandate to do, govern. Then there is the tourism pull, whether it is from home or abroad the money generated by the palaces, and any royal branded tac goes back into the public purse, not the Privy (the royal fund) and any profit from the Crown Estate gets split, with 15% going to Queenie and 85% being fed back into the public fund for use in things like the NHS.

With them being symbolic of mass oppression and classism I have two things. First off, these people were born into the role, they did not choose to be the descendants of an awful somewhat tyrannical force. They have at times returned stolen treasures, however this is difficult given just how damaging the British Empire was, though they also draw attention to global social issue, often helping with charitable causes. In regards their imbedding of the classist system, look at the U.S where classism is rampant, but regularly ignored in a republic founded by a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. To right that wrong you need a complete socialist reform- which rarely goes smoothly- not just a symbolic tossing of the monarchy. Also, have you tried to tell people from Unionist working class estates in Scotland or Northern Ireland that the monarchy is symbolic of inequality, they generally don’t care because it is an intrenched part of their identity.

The loop hole that means our parliamentary process can be put to one side if Lizzy decides she doesn’t agree with a new law, is definitely thorny. However, the threat of social revolt usually keeps her from exercising that right as sovereign. What we do get from Queenie is immense soft power, a power to attract people to a political or a relationship position, rather than coerce them. This helps especially in times of politically instability; sometimes being able to schmooze the German or French leaders is a good thing, for instance during, oh I don’t know…Brexit?  It is also important to think about how the hereditary system works in the upbringing of the future heirs. They aren’t taught to feel entitled, they are sent to the best schools, they enter into the armed forces, they live in the public eye. They learn governance, they learn to think critically and morally, they travel the world and have a wider world view than most well-read Glasgow students. They aren’t clueless!

RoyalsFinally, they are a unifier. No matter how hard you want to object to their existence, there is no doubt that the identity of the United Kingdom is massively entwined with the royal family. We do at times gawk at them, as they throw lavish weddings full of pomp and circumstance [Elgar begins to grow louder] and it does bring us together. There is something positive to seeing William and Kate, or now Harry and Meghan, stood at the top of the aisle looking lovingly at each other. Sometimes we need a little bit of royalty in our lives to brighten up what would be honestly a dull, and depressive year of Brexit.

We don’t need to remove the monarchy from our union, we almost definitely need some more soft reform, like the “Fixed-term Parliaments Act” in 2011. However, there is no pressing reason to get rid of them particularly in this period of political instability as we exit the EU.

If you want to read the other side of this argument, click here!

-Owain Campton, Editor-in-Chief

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