Is it time to get rid of the royal family?
Imagine, at a time when you are struggling to pay for the basic necessities of life such as food and water, a multi-millionaire telling you that austerity is necessary. It wouldn’t seem very fair would it? Now imagine that this person sitting on their golden throne, wearing a crown adorned with jewels, is only in the position that they are because of their parents. This would seem even more unfair. Unfortunately this is the reality for the people of Britain, who’s taxes fund their activities – from helicopter repairs to royal train journeys. So, does the Royal Family actually benefit us? And if they don’t, is it time to become a republic?
Firstly, the most popular argument for the Monarchy is that they bringing in thousands of tourists, giving our economy a huge boost, and offsetting the expense that they cause the tax payer. Although this argument may seem logical, it is incorrect. According to Visit England, the royal residences don’t even make the top 20 attractions, showing that our tourism industry would not be damaged by abolishing the monarchy. Quite the opposite in fact, it would receive a huge boost from opening Buckingham Palace up to fee paying tourists all year round, instead of the current 2 months.
The Royal Family is completely out of touch with the British public, the very public that they are supposed to serve. In a time when business and the public alike are having to cut back, the Royal’s spending has increased 6% this past year – twice the rate of inflation. According to an of aide William and Kate, the £4M refurbishment to their new 10 bedroom palace “is done to a very comfortable but ordinary level.” However, I don’t know many ordinary, newly wed couples with three kitchens. Since last year, numerous people have been unable to afford their homes due to ‘bedroom tax’, which penalises people on housing benefit for having spare bedrooms and under occupying their house; it is ridiculous to enforce this though when we are set such an extravagant example.
Another reason to abolish the Royal Family is their feudal land ownership. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II, the queen of 32 countries, owns 6.6 billion acres of land: 1/6 of the earth’s land surface. The monarch’s ownership of all commonwealth land is an outdated practice originating in medieval times, to overcome the problems caused by constant changes in land ownership. However, nowadays official documentation and the census have removed this problem. While you may think that this ownership is purely symbolic, the Duchy of Lancaster actually sent letters to thousands of people, reminding them that the Queen has rights to dig for minerals under their homes. Because of this, there is a fear that this right will be used to start fracking under peoples homes without their consent; and with reports of earthquakes, water contamination and air pollution, it is easy to see why people are worried.
My final argument against the monarchy is not economical or environmental, it is about equality. The idea of social mobility is completely undermined by the fact that our head of state is born into the role, and it will only ever stay in that one family. As hard working, intelligent, and well suited a person is for head of state, they will never be able to achieve it. If the Royal Family were simply the superficial face of the country then this might not be such a problem. However, the fact is that the Royal Family actively influence policy and have the right to form and dissolve government, and this is far too much power to be purely hereditary. It completely weakens the idea of meritocracy as no matter how worthy a person is, it is genetics which determines the people in top positions. In a modern, democratic society, this is not acceptable.
Despite these arguments, people support the existence of the Royal Family. People still fill the streets for events such as the royal wedding, and in a survey by the BBC in 2007, 80% of respondents said that Britain should retain its monarchy. In my opinion though, Britain would still be better off without them. Many people are popular, but it does not mean that they are deserving of millions of pounds of tax payers money and ultimate power. Becoming a republic would demonstrate that Britain is a forward thinking, fully democratic country that recognises when a tradition has become detrimental to its public. Not only would abolishing the monarchy increase money made through tourism, I think it would also provide enough of a shock to reengage people with running of our country.