We often hear about so-called ‘dole scum,’ “sucking up the bounty of the welfare state” (in the words of Tony Parsons). Yet the one family who ‘sucks up’ the most of the taxpayer’s money, a whopping £299.4 million a year, is applauded by the general public. We have pictures of them on mugs and tea towels, and the BBC goes bonkers when one of them does so much as sneeze. I am, of course, talking about the Windsors; the biggest scroungers this country has ever seen.
Actually, I say they are ‘applauded by the public’, but the truth is, they’re not. Studies show that only a quarter of British people identify as firmly royalist, and another quarter are republican. The fifty percent that are left are still floundering, either unsure which side to settle on or completely apathetic on the matter. Where is this ‘overwhelming’ public support? The simple answer is, it doesn’t exist.
Frankly, I find it remarkable that in this period of austerity, when public services and welfare spending are being cut relentlessly, the monarchy has been left unscathed. This £299.4 million could pay for 14,000 nurses, 13,000 police officers or 14,000 new public sector teachers—but clearly, George Osborne thought it’d be better to spend the money on a little old lady with some fancy hats. Earlier this year, Kate Middleton bore a brat that was immediately worth around £700 million, when 3.5 million other children in the UK are living in poverty. I fail to see how this is logical or fair.
“Oh, but they do so much for tourism,” I hear you cry! Well… do they? All the evidence suggests that we’d actually get more money from tourism in a republic. According to Visit Britain, not one royal household makes it into Britain’s top 20 tourist attractions anyway (with Windsor Castle at 24 beaten considerably by Stonehenge and Legoland Windsor). In total, the Windsors account for less than 1% of Britain’s tourism revenue – it seems mad to argue in favour of keeping them on the basis of that. Anyway, think about it – without the monarchy, royal households would be open to tourists all day, every day, with no areas out of bounds. And let’s face it, people will pay more to see where the Queen used to go to the toilet.
The tourism argument is irrelevant and, above all, wrong – after all, it’s not as if the Queen comes out on the balcony of Buckingham Palace every hour, on the hour, to perform magic tricks to an adoring public.
I also find it strange that Great Britain, a so-called paragon of democracy, is absolutely fine with having a hereditary, unelected Head of State. Hereditary public office goes against every democratic principle, and yet our government is still overseen by this walking, talking anachronism. “Oh, but they don’t have any real power!” So why have them then? Why spend hundreds of millions of pounds on a family that sits on their arses and does nothing at all?
Oh, I can practically hear the red-faced, seething royalists now, clutching their old coronation/royal wedding/jubilee tat protectively and squawking, “But their CHARITY WORK! They are a SYMBOL! You are UNPATRIOTIC!”
Patriotism means loving your country, and I do. It does not mean loving the monarchy. And why can’t they continue their ‘charity work’ in a republic? They’ll still retain their celebrity status, and their supposed charity work will still have much the same effect. And finally, if they are a symbol, then they are a symbol of everything that is wrong with our society. An elected Head of State could be just as much of a symbol, but they probably wouldn’t cost £299.4 million a year.
We need to let go of the past once and for all. We should chuck them all in a council house, where they belong.