Harry and Meghan: are the royal family worth the hype?

After the recent announcement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's engagement, Shanai Momi takes a look at the royal family and what they (don't) contribute to our society

With people around the world rushing to congratulate Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle on their recent engagement, it is clear to see the public interest in both their upcoming nuptials and the British royal family itself. The announcement, however, generates many questions. So are the royal family worth all the hype?

From people like Kim Kardashian to the Obamas, many have shown their delight at the prospect of the May wedding between Princess Diana’s youngest son and the Suits actress, yet many here (where the royal family resides) reacted in our usual low-key fashion. This lacklustre response expressed by the British public suggests that people just aren’t that excited. With the idea of monarchy being outdated and people being outraged at their taxes being used to pay for another wedding, the royal family is not regarded in the same favour it once was.

“The rich are, as ever, given more and more at the expense of those in much more need.”

At a time of gross inequality, where many in Britain are resorting to food banks to help feed their families, the fact that we are subsidising the royal family generates much resentment towards them. As an institution that is already wealthy and a ‘first world’ country in which people are struggling to pay their bills, nothing represents immovable social barriers and hierarchy quite as much. Harry and Meghan’s wedding only strengthens this – it only means wasting more money on royals who use taxpayers’ money for their own benefit whilst systems like the NHS are suffering severe cuts and possible privatisation.

The reality of increasing food and fuel prices, especially on a limited income, leaves far too many with the ‘heat or eat’ predicament. Instead of having extra money for these necessities, the British public are made to pay for the many chefs of royal households as well as private education, nannies and more. In addition to this, the royals’ staff expenditure has only cut by 5% over the past six years, the Queen was granted £31 million in 2016 solely for being sovereign, and taxpayers were bombarded with another £1 million bill to refurbish Kensington Palace. It appears that the rich are, as ever, given more and more at the expense of those in much more need – yet we are to be ‘grateful’ for providing such luxuries.

The argument that we should be thankful because the wedding and the monarchy will increase tourism is absurd. The spectacle will only be a distraction to the economic turmoil of the country. Whilst the number of the undeserving poor grows it is no coincidence that expert in fairness, George Osbourne, has publicly defended the royals’ expenditure.

“The royals are not good role models.”

Conservative ideology at its finest is evident here with the rest of us being encouraged to simply accept that such concentrated wealth is a worldwide trend. Royal involvement with charities cannot be seen as hard work as little focus is given to the charity. It is rather what their latest fashion choice is to the event that is given the spotlight. With many not pleased about the announcement of Harry and Meghan, it seems that some aren’t quietly accepting it any longer.

The wedding is not important in a constitutional sense as the groom is about to become sixth in line to the throne. It is therefore not a very significant event (we aren’t even getting a national holiday!) compared to the 2011 wedding between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It is clear to see why some are fascinated given Meghan’s acting career, race, Americanness, and divorce. All provide great headlines but no real modernisation. For example, in their engagement photos Meghan is wearing a £75,000 Ralph and Russo dress – hardly relatable to anyone but high society.

One would think that the palace would want to be viewed as more frugal, yet this embodies the exact opposite. With the royal energy bill being 2,280 times higher than the average British household they clearly fail to acknowledge the rapid decline of social mobility. They are not good role models – just an embodiment of the divide between rich and poor, upper class and lower class.

Shanai Momi

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Image courtesy of Graham C99 on Flickr


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