The Gryphon asks: should Britain abolish the monarchy?
Yes – Edmund Goldrick
The British Monarchy, currently, is a wonderful institution. They have carried out their duties admirably, helping raise astronomical sums of money for worthy causes, forging exceptional careers, and becoming effective diplomats for times when conventional diplomacy was not expedient. But the monarchy needs to be abolished, because otherwise, we ask the Royal Family to do something no one should ever be asked to do: risk their children’s safety.
Today more than ever, people’s private affairs are the subject of public gossip. Public figures are stalked, their phones tapped, their accounts hacked, their photos leaked. Bloody anything, from a photo sent to a partner in confidence, to a video of a celebrity using a bong in private, to casual conversations, are shared and consumed by a mass of people who drain your faith in humanity, and are distributed by even less savoury figures. This is not an environment anyone should have to place their child in. Think about everything you’ve ever done – ever – that could be the subject of gossip and sharing if you were famous enough. Your first partner, the first time you were drunk, any stupid thing you’ve ever said and regretted, any hookup, night out, anything.
Prince Harry got an unfortunate taste of this, he was lucky however, cameras on phones were only just becoming ‘a thing’ (an extremely low resolution thing at that) as he was exiting his adolescence. The poor sod had his blurry picture splashed over all the tabloids in Britain for things that it should otherwise be reasonable to expect to be able to do in private, or for enough alcohol and egging-on to seem like a good idea. Think how far recording technology has come. For the next generation of royals, for the children of the British crown, every hard learning experience, every tender moment, every anarchic and a-little-bit-stupidly-fun decision, will be just one picture away from being consumed by the whole world, by anyone heartless enough to get a kick out of intruding on someone else’s life.
Prince Charles too suffered from such a despicable invasion of privacy. As his relationship broke down, he did what anyone would have done: he reached out to someone he loved. A 1989 phone call with Camilla was tapped, and published, being spread by every broadcaster, print journal, and joked about by every two-bit current affairs show. An adult with lots of support and life experience would struggle to cope with something like that. Think about what it would do to a teenager. Think about what it would do to a child. Suicide is already the leading cause of death for young adults in Britain, by a huge margin. The Royal Family can, and will continue to do so much good, they will continue to put the good of others above their own, because that is their duty. It is time to relieve them of this duty. I couldn’t ask someone to put their children through that. Could you?
No – Sophie Wheeler
Many people have been in uproar recently over the idea that the treasury should cough up £369 million for repairs to Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II. Over 140,000 people have banded together to sign an online petition created by Mark Johnson, suggesting that “The Crown and its estates should be made to fund its own renovations.” Some people have even gone as far as calling for the abolishment of the monarchy. It appears that in a time of cutbacks and austerity, the royal family is a luxury that we can no longer afford.
However, the idea that the royal family is a net cost which is somehow preventing the treasury from ‘balancing the books’ is misleading at best. The treasury benefits from taxes paid on the owned Crown Estates owned by the monarchy which came to approximately £285 million for 2015 alone. The annual cost to the taxpayer from the royal family for that same year came to roughly £40.1 million. Now I’m no mathematical genius, but that seems like a large net profit for the taxpayer to me. This excludes the voluntary payments made to HMRC by the Queen and Prince of Wales, despite the fact that legally the monarch is exempt from paying tax on their personal income. Not to mention the extra revenue generated by our vibrant tourism industry as a result of having the royal family which is currently estimated at £500m annually.
This is before we take into account more recent changes which make the royal family even more affordable. The 2011 Sovereign Grant bill allows the treasury to pay an index percentage of annual income generated by the Crown Estate to the monarch as a grant. This index percentage currently stands at 15%. A large proportion of the remaining income goes straight to the taxpayer. The online petitions are misleading; effectively the Crown Estate is paying for its own renovations, simply through an increased sovereign grant as a percentage of its own income. Additionally to this, the new system will make sure that royal funding will be properly audited. This means the system of financing the Royal Family will be more accountable and transparent, hopefully in turn leading to savings.
However, there exists also the benefits of having a royal family which are not so easily quantifiable. The Royal Family plays a pertinent role in maintaining diplomatic relations abroad, is essentially engrained in our nationhood and furthermore most people in the U.K hold a favourable view of the monarchy. As polls suggest, those in favour of the monarchy remain in a comfortable majority. It would be absurd to abolish the royal family against the wishes of the majority of British people, due to the demands of a select minority.
(Image courtesy of HELLO)