The Queen is Dead: Why we don’t need the Royals

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

The royal wedding is cute and all, but PR spectacles like the royal wedding with smiling celebs in pretty dresses hide and distract from the deeper problems with having a monarchy in modern day Britain.

Tourism is often cited as a valuable reason to keep the monarchy, but their central influence on the success of Britain’s tourism industry is unproven and really unquantifiable. Though we have no idea what tourism would be like without the royals, we can assume that it would broadly be fine as people have many reasons for visiting the UK especially the iconic buildings like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace still being around, among many others. And, while the revenue they may bring in in tourism is unquantifiable, the real cost is great – in 2017 Republic estimated that the true cost of the royals is around £345 million a year, taking into consideration things like security costs, costs incurred by local councils hosting them, and the lost revenue of the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, as well as the official yearly sovereign grant (which has had a 145% increase since 2012, during a period of brutal austerity for all those unlucky enough to be commoners). This clearly does not represent value for money and allowing some privileged few to live in such luxury on government funds while cutting budgets for vital services like foodbanks is callous and a terrible representation of what it means to be British. There is also a plan to spend a further £369 million over the next ten years to repair Buckingham Palace, despite a large chunk of the sovereign grant being aimed at maintaining the Royals’ home, proving we should not entrust them to look after national monuments.

Even if they did bring in a proven cost-benefit (which would require proving at least £345m of tourism that is directly tied to the monarchy) it is still completely wrong on principle. This country claims to have liberal values, but we cannot even pretend to aspire to meritocracy if some children are born not just with a silver spoon in their mouth but with the keys to the highest office in the country waiting for them, purely based on who their parents are. There are few, if any, who in the twenty-first century, truly believe in the divine right of Kings. It is generally accepted that we are born into one family or another through ‘accident of birth’, so how is it fair that this arbitrary system is used for the selection of our head of state?

This is more than unfair, it shows a systemic acceptance and even promotion of the deep inequality that plagues our country. Britain prides itself on being ‘the oldest continuous democracy in the world’ and some claim that having a head of state free from politics has enabled this. But, having a head of state that is unelected and very literally above the law undermines what should be our democratic right to choose our rulers. It also means that an unelected family has incredible access to our countries most senior politicians, an unelected family to which the Freedom of Information Act doesn’t apply, despite their being essentially the executive branch of government, and government funded. The Monarch has weekly meetings with the Prime Minister, which are entirely confidential, and she retains her right to express her opinions within them. The public will never know the extent of the influence of these meetings or what goes on in them, while all other influences on the PM are fairly laid out in the public eye. Prince Charles has expressed a wish to be a more involved and opinionated King than his mother, and the Black Spider memos uncovered by the Guardian showed his private lobbying to government ministers on political issues. This is beyond the remit of the Royals but a reality when they are in positions of such power. Even worse, as a response to the black spider memos being accessed, royal aides pressured the government and the FoI Act has since been tightened to stop Charles’ or other royals private lobbying being accessible. And when royals exert their influence they will be doing it to defend status quo and protect the interests of their friends and peers, the super wealthy and the aristocrats, for example it was found that Charles was privately lobbying in favour of fox-hunting, not anything to help the less privileged in society.

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Ultimately are the Royals really who we want to be representing Britain worldwide? A bunch of unelected, unrepresentative, over-privileged white aristocrats do not represent the brilliance and diversity of our country. Instead they show how we cling on to our imperialist roots, and to me symbolise Britain’s increasing irrelevance on the world stage, having peaked with the Second World War and becoming increasingly old and outdated ever since.

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

-Daisy Thomson, Culture Editor

 

 

 


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