With an estimated wealth of £350m, it would be difficult for anyone to argue that the Queen is financially struggling. But according to last week’s National Audit Report, the Head of State is set to receive an inflation-busting 22 per cent ‘pay rise’ over the next two years, increasing the amount allocated to run her household and conduct official engagements from £31 million to £37.9 million. Are the royal family worth this new increased cost? Indeed, are the royal family any use at all? LS debate asks, do we benefit from having a royal family?
First Year Sociology
In the wake of the Queen’s 22 per cent ‘pay rise’ last week, it would be easy to jump back on the bandwagon which labels the monarchy as an un=elected and unwanted expense. Although this country’s democracy is undoubtedly a good thing, the royal family, in my opinion, offers something far beyond what can be gained from a ballot box and piece of paper.
Say all you want about the costs of a sovereign leader, but the money brought into the country through the royal family would be difficult, if not impossible, to replicate in a republic. Tourism is the third biggest industry in this country and the British Tourism Agency reports that the royal family generates close to £500 million every year. When weighed against the £37.9 million allocated budget the Queen is given to run her household and conduct official engagements, it doesn’t feel like bad value for money.
The April 2011 royal wedding saw a tourism boom in England that will go unrivalled for years. You only had to turn on the television to see pictures of over excited faces all over the world waiting for the first glance of the newlyweds. Whilst on holiday in America this summer, over the time of the birth of our future heir, I couldn’t move for hearing the intrepid anticipation for the day the world would finally see the future head of the Commonwealth. Every channel had a different comment to make on Kate’s choice of outfit to introduce her new son and all seemed equally certain about what Diana would have made of it. The point is that our monarchy is idolised, studied and even envied by citizens of republics worldwide. The royal family offers something that is quintessentially British and, if they were to no longer exist, we would suffer an
irreparable loss of identity and an even greater loss of revenue.
The ‘expensive, unnecessary and extravagant’ royal family is not simply a bunch of pompous layabouts. To call them a drain on our economy or the tax payer deliberately ignores the vast amounts of work they do for charities all over this country and far beyond. Who else in the public eye would dedicate the same volume of time or money to charitable causes? Last year alone the Prince’s Trust supported over 55,800 young people. I’m not suggesting Charles does all this himself, but the royal family act as patrons for many
organizations that positively impact people across the world. The attention they bring to causes cannot be priced.
In Princess Diana’s time as the patron of The Leprosy Mission England, the plight of leprosy was brought to world’s attention. During numerous visits Diana came into close contact with sufferers in order to completely dispel the myth that leprosy could be spread by touch. A subsequent grant from the Diana Memorial Fund enabled New Delhi to open a centre promoting the inclusion, rights and dignity of leprosy sufferers. This one small example of good perfectly illustrates the positive publicity and important money that the royal family can bring to causes worldwide.
What makes the royal family so appealing is their inherent charm and charisma; they are so interesting and
intriguing and, more importantly, they are ours. I would challenge anyone to replicate the benefits we see from the royal family in a Republic. It is just not possible.
First Year English and History
In a society that prides itself on values of democracy and equality, it is laughable that the figurehead of the UK is the embodiment of one of the most
undemocratic political systems in the world. The Queen, and the royal family as whole, completely contradicts
the concept of a fully democratic
Aside from her ceremonial duties, the Queen plays little part in the running of the country. Although, in theory, it is necessary for any act of Parliament to be passed by royal assent, in practice she is politically powerless. Royal Consent has not been given to bills on only three occasions since 1990. The most notable refusal was in relation to the ‘Military Action Against Iraq (Parliamentary Approval) Bill’ that sought, four years before war was eventually declared, to transfer the power to authorize military strikes in Iraq from the Monarch to Parliament. Parliamentary debate stalled after the first hearing and, because Royal Consent was not given, the bill was dropped before its second hearing.
It is unlikely that the monarchy could ever realistically refuse to grant a major policy that would be otherwise passed in government – doing so would inevitably result in public outcry – but the fact that the royal family still possess the potential to significantly affect our political system is an outrage. It is unacceptable that any person should have the potential for such ultimate power in a modern day society. Furthermore, this power stems from no actual talent, experience or intellectual prowess. The queen has power simply because of the family she was born into. The senselessness of this system
obviously leads us to question why the monarchy actually exists.
The most popular pro-monarchy argument is the fact that the royal family attract millions of tourists every year to the UK, bringing in a huge amount of money into the economy. This, however, fails to note that monarchy-inspired tourism to the UK is mainly isolated to the capital therefore other areas of the country witness no benefits from tourism that monarchy attracts. Places up and down the country all possess their own rich and diverse cultural heritage attract tourists from all around the world every year. All of this is achieved without the aid of Buckingham Palace and the royal family. The popularity of Britain as a tourist destination can be attributed to so many wide and diverse factors than simply just our monarchy.
Many fail to notice the hypocrisy behind the growing, although often unfounded, hatred of the benefit culture while the Queen, who will now receive £37.9 million a year, remains among the most respected and adored people in Britain. This is money that could be spent on the NHS, invested in employment programs or distributed between the institutions from which the Government plans on cutting £11.5bn in spending. While the royal family continues to live a lifestyle of obscene luxury funded by handouts at the expense of our social welfare, millions of people around the world, even in the UK itself, struggle to survive. This perpetuation of such social inequality is disgraceful.
It is without a doubt that politics in the UK is in need of huge reform. However we cannot achieve the full transformation of government, which we both need and want, while we still have a monarchy. The monarchical system does not benefit us at all. It is time for reform.