As you may or may not know, it is the Queen’s 90th Birthday this year in which celebrations will be carried out throughout April, May and June. In the last few years we have witnessed the popularity of the royal family increase due to the royal wedding and births of prince George and princess Charlotte. However, we must contemplate whether or not the royal family aids or hinders Britain in 2016. Here are some points to consider:
- The Brand:
Many people across the globe associate England with the royal family. The royal family continue to generate healthy relations on an international level which greatly benefits Britain. They are also meant to be the symbol of ‘Britishness’ and one of the few symbols of our culture (which is a bit ironic considering they’re German). But is this ‘Britishness’ which they’re portraying to the world on their international trips really a true representation of our culture and way or life in 2016 or just symbol of a bygone age?
- They have no real power:
I was talking to a friend from America during the elections who said to me “I didn’t know you voted for a new queen”. I replied “We aren’t voting for a new queen, we are voting for a new political party and prime minister”. He replied “So if the queen doesn’t rule then what does she do?”
Although you may find this conversation funny, can you really blame a foreigner for thinking the queen has some major input (or any input) into the running of the country when during the last opening of parliament the Queen sat on a throne telling us “My government” this and “My government” that… Really Liz? Really? She has no influential involvement in political decisions. Yes, the Queen may have the power to sign off legislation before it becomes law but she does not decide whether or not to pass laws. She is just a middle man, a box that needs to be ticked for the sake of tradition. She is obliged to say yes to any law brought before her by the Prime Minister as the parliament who has proposed it have been elected by the people.
Similarly, the Crown also creates all peerages and awards other honours, but these are granted on the advice of the Prime Minister. Foreign dignitaries may come to visit the Queen on trips to the UK, but these visits are no more than photo opportunities, the Queen has no influence over foreign policy decisions. Again, just there for show and tradition
This is the sole reason I could think of regarding their use. The Royal wedding cost approximately £20m and it is estimated to have generated £1bn. Similarly, millions of pounds are generated from tourists visiting estates and buildings owned by the Royal Family as they are greatly respected worldwide. However, when most tourists visit England, they don’t even see the royal family. We brits rarely even see them.
My only counterpoints for tourism is that I am pretty sure that no tourist is heart broken or swayed about visiting France because their royal family was abolished during their revolution. Similarly, I don’t think any tourist is going to stop coming to the UK to go shopping in Westfields or the Bullring, or from visiting the Park district, or from taking pictures of our telephone boxes, big ben, houses of parliament, etc etc because the royal family isn’t tucked away somewhere invisible to them anyway. In fact, not having the royal family would allow more of the rooms in the palaces to be opened up, making them more visitor friendly & create necessary jobs & revenue.
- They are a DRAIN on the economy:
Probably the most obvious reason of all so I will keep it simple. The queen’s commercial property is worth £11.5bn. BBC news headlines stated a few months ago that the queen may need to move out of Buckingham palace for a while because of £150m worth of renovations to be done. The queen is receiving a 6.7% increase in taxpayer funding this coming year which will amount to £42.8m in the next financial year. In the next 5 years, that will be a 38% rise. In the last 5 years, however, homelessness has increased by approximately 50%…
The royal family have a vast amount of wealth which can be equated in land alone. So why is the taxpayer expanding their wealth by such a large amount? The money we waste funding the monarchy could be used to subsidise some of the cuts the current government is planning on making, or provide discounted university education, or build affordable homes, or improve the NHS, something Britain is in dire need of at the moment. During such difficult economic times in which people are struggling to keep their jobs, society should not have to pay taxes to maintain the life of luxury that the royal family are dwelling in.
By Priscilla McGregor-Kerr
Twitter & Insta: @cillahope_