Sustaining the Royal Family within ‘its means’ is a costly duty, but where is the justice if the obligation hinges on a mere fact of birth?
Recently, we watched as Queen Elizabeth II delivered a speech during the State Opening of Parliament. We watched as the 90-year-old, sitting on a solid gold throne, wearing a £1 million crown encrusted with 5 rubies, 11 emeralds, 17 sapphires, 273 pearls and 2868 diamonds addressed a room filled with millionaires about how Britain should ‘live within its means’.
This came just before her statement showing her support for the government’s plans for the 7-day NHS, where junior doctors will have to work more, for less. But how can we think about those who have put themselves through years of hard work, study and stress with the simple goal of helping and taking care of others, when the question on everyone’s mind is how on earth this majestic crown will safely return home — the answer — in its very own horse-drawn carriage, of course.
The Queen was on our screens a great deal more this year, as this is the year she turned 90 — of course not with the help of the NHS she is so willing to exploit. Yes, reaching 90 is an incredible feat and if my (taxpaying) grandmother — who has worked for everything she has — were to reach that age, I’d want nothing more than to make it a birthday to remember. However, something tells me that her celebrations won’t involve performances from Dame Shirley Bassey and Andrea Bocelli.
Surely anyone, even those who actually support this outdated institution, can see the absolute hypocrisy and lunacy here. This woman, including her entire family, are living a life of luxury, while one in five of the UK population live below the poverty line, simply because they were born in the wrong bed. Why? Why in the twenty-first century, in a supposed democratic and meritocratic country (let’s leave the House of Lords out of this for now) should this still be a thing?
It is dangerous to grant power to an individual with no merit whatsoever. The Queen has full power to sign treaties, wage wars and even to dissolve Parliament if she so pleases. Luckily, this monarch has proved to be rather well-behaved for the past 60-odd years, blindly following the government at that time, but who’s to say further down the line there isn’t an heir with more extreme intentions? What happens to our ‘democracy’ then? How can we call ourselves a forward-thinking, modern nation while still dragging along a 1,200-year institution where individuals are granted positions solely because of their ‘birthright’?
A common Royalist argument would be concerning money and how the Royal Family bring in more than they take in terms of tourism etc. Every July, the Palace releases the Queen’s financial statement showing how much is spent. This claims that the monarchy only costs 56p per person. This seems completely doable from the outset. However, this number is reached by dividing the amount spent by the entire population, including every adult and child in the country. Now, the last time I checked my 4-year-old nephew was not paying taxes just yet. No other public expense is justified this way; you could even argue that these numbers were spun in order to look better to a country growing tired of wasting its money.
The total annual cost published by the palace was £35.7 million which, in my opinion, is a ridiculously high number anyway (if the fact that £400,000 is spent on alcohol alone doesn’t bring about some sort of anger and feeling of injustice, I don’t know what will). However, this number excludes a number of expenses, including security and royal visits etc. Adding these costs on, we’re looking at around £200 million spent on one family in one year. But who cares? Didn’t you like what Kate Middleton was wearing last week?!
All in all, the idea that a family should be idolised and celebrated just for being born into the right bloodline, is insane in my opinion. At one point in our history, Britain was deemed the ‘mother of democracy’ but this is arguably not the case. For a country to be truly democratic, those in charge should be in charge as a result of hard work and personal merit, and such people should be chosen by the public whom they will serve. What is currently the case in this country is unfair, undemocratic and definitely not an example of Britain ‘living within its means’