Should England do away with the monarchy?
The British monarchy is an established, ceremonial institution that is world-renowned. It is full of pomp, pageantry, and tradition that the public continues to enjoy. Even with recent scandals, the royals are still popular among the British and the Commonwealth people. In various opinion polls, less than 20% of British respondents would like the U.K. to become a republic. And Queen Elizabeth II has a 74% positive rating, making her the most popular royal. She is admired globally and is the longest-reigning monarch in the world. Unlike prime ministers and other political figures, the queen brings consistency to the public. A recent YouGov poll revealed that the public opinion of the queen is that she is 'admirable, hard-working, respected, dignified, and dedicated.'
There is a movement spearheaded by groups such as the Republic to abolish the monarchy. Yet, it is a complex issue and not as easy as showing the royals out the palace doors. In order to abolish the monarchy, several legislative steps are required, such as a Parliamentary act signed by the Sovereign. There's also the task of dealing with 'complicated legal disentanglements,' such as who would head up the Commonwealth, as well as the Church of England. It would be another Brexit.
Instead of abolishing the monarchy, the royals should follow Sweden's lead and simply downsize by barring any minor royals who are not in direct line to the throne from receiving any public funds. It would also be beneficial if the royals modernized by being transparent about their finances with the public.
The late British Cabinet Minister Tony Benn wrote, “…the existence of a hereditary monarchy helps to prop up all the privilege and patronage that corrupts our society.”
And he was right.
Britain’s affection for the royal family and the reigning queen is well-documented. But the history, pageantry, and touristic value routinely cited in support of its continuance are not rooted in events Britons should take pride in. The monarchy flourished as the result of colonialist adventurism and the oppression of people throughout the former Empire.
Economist Uta Patnaik’s research on the subject reveals that, in India alone, the British Empire extracted no less than $45 billion between 1765 and 1938.
And while it’s true that the British royal family offers added value for tourism in the UK, that value does not mitigate the cost of maintaining the institution, by any means.
Monarchists will happily tell you that public costs for the royals are said to amount to only one pound sterling ($1.27 USD) per citizen each year, but this figure doesn’t include security outlay. The real cost of the royals is closer to 350 million pounds ($443,590,000 USD) - over 5 pounds ($6.33 USD) per citizen.
The combined economic ravages of COVID-19 and Brexit (the UK leaving the European Union) make it clear that the royal family can no longer be publicly funded. Despite British sentimentality in the matter, economic realism must prevail for the sake of the nation’s financial integrity.
- William the Conqueror was declared the first king of England in 1066.
- As of February 2020, Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne for 68 years.
- As is convention, the queen of England does not vote and is not elected; however, she does have the right to appoint the prime minister, as well as perform other ceremonial and formal roles.
- According to VisitBritain, about 2.5 million tourists visit British royal residences each year.