When Joe Biden was nominated as the Democratic candidate for President in 2020 he was 77 years old, and would become the oldest head of state in US history. This concerned many people during the election campaign, and many were worried he would not be able to dispense his duties properly due to his age. Our head of state, however, is 94, and her husband is pushing 100.
She’s unelected, unaccountable, and got her job from descending from an inbred mismatch of European royalty and aristocrats. But should she go, should the monarchy be abolished and replaced with an elected head of state? Absolutely not.
One criticism levelled at the Royal Family is expense, it’s true that £67 million (In the 2018-19 Year) is not cheap for one family, and the price is only increasing. This money (Sovereign Grant) funds the important work of the family, as well as the upkeep of the Royal residences, many used for official purposes. There are some Royals, such as Princess Alexandra, who receive taxpayer money without doing many high-profile duties.
The cost of the Sovereign Grant is paid back, with massive profits
The counter to this expense is tourism money, as well as the cash from the Crown Estate (The Queen’s private land). The revenue from the Crown Estate goes directly to the Treasury, returning £329 million to the British taxpayer. So already the cost of the Sovereign Grant is paid back, with massive profits.
Tourism related to the monarchy brings in money too, one report estimated this to be £550 million, although these figures are difficult to judge and should be taken with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, the argument that the monarchy is too expensive is simply flawed.
The political role of the Queen is also under scrutiny. She is the head of state, and head of the armed forces. So should this vitally important role be hereditary? Well it’s not as simple as that. The Prime Minister, while nominally only head of government, is the de facto head of state and of the armed forces anyway – the Queen’s political power is purely ceremonial, and any diversion from this role would certainly result in swift punishment.
A President doesn’t come cheap either, Donald Trump’s holidays alone cost over $200 million in taxpayer cash
It’s also important to ask whether people in Britain actually want an elected head of state? I certainly don’t. It would mean another politician, this time with a democratic mandate, making decisions, potentially at odds with parliament – which would almost certainly cause deadlock akin to that of the U.S., and we’ve all seen what polarisation has done over there.
A President doesn’t come cheap either, Donald Trump’s holidays alone cost over $200 million in taxpayer cash. The Monarchy has given the U.K. a level of political stability that has fostered sweeping progress, and allowed parliament to work without interference of an outside political actor.
Any outpouring of sentimentality and comfort provided by the Royals is often met with patronising snobbery from the left. And on the contrary, any criticism or scrutiny afforded to them is shut down as ‘unpatriotic’ by the right. Essentially, both sides of the political spectrum have got it wrong, sceptical optimism is the best mind-set when dealing with the monarchy, I find – and I’m sure that’s the feeling of many people today.
Simple things like a speech from the Queen can give people a sense of security
Something as simple as a speech from the Queen often captures the tone of an event perfectly, such as her message during the height of the first covid wave – it certainly made me, and many other people, feel a lot better. And it’s that sort of comment which people often dismiss, but simple things like a speech from the Queen can give people a sense of security and continuity when the world is going mad.
If I were to create a new country, I probably wouldn’t choose to have a monarch, for many good reasons. But the U.K. is not a new country, and having a King or Queen works for us, and will hopefully work for many years into the future.
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