Royalty have no place in our society
Everyone from constitutional nerds to young professionals seems to pride themselves on enforcing the democratic process; from the major questions of our generation like Brexit, through to voting on what to read for the next meeting of the workplace book club. Why then, do we still have a monarchy in 2017? This is something I’ve asked myself since getting interested in our political system.
If our democratically elected representatives in Parliament want to change taxation laws, they generally have to pass primary legislation in the form of a Bill, tabled in the House of Commons. That Bill will then need to be voted through the unelected House of Lords, and eventually signed off by the Monarch – Queen Elizabeth II – at which point it becomes an Act. House of Lords reform is also desperately needed, and forms a major component of the democratic deficit in the UK, along with our ridiculous First-Past-The-Post electoral system, but I’ll leave those for another time.
It strikes me as completely bizarre that so many of our fellow subjects of this Great British Kingdom continue to go along with paying for the upkeep of an expansive Royal Family, and continue to accept their heirs as legitimate representatives on the national stage and within our law making structures. Why is this?
The most common argument I hear from young liberals against abolishing the monarchy, is that the Royals draw for tourists creates net economic benefits for the UK. If that’s true, then that’s a nice argument, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Lots of things create net economic benefits – that doesn’t make them all good things all the time. It’s also fairly common knowledge that the Queen and her family are all members of the super rich. So it’s not like they’d be suddently destitute if we stopped funding their lifestyles with our tax money.
Princess Margaret’s morning routine c 1955. Yassgirl. pic.twitter.com/YbCAvhtfMC
— Gareth Roberts (@OldRoberts953) October 20, 2017
Last week, this Tweet showing an excerpt from Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown appeared, describing Princess Margaret’s morning routine in 1955. She basically spendt 09:00 – 13:00 having breakfast in bed, smoking, bathing, drinking vodka and eating. I mean, to a lot of people that would certainly be considered enviable – but not befitting someone supposedly dedicated to a life of public service, as the Royals would have us believe. Queen Elizabeth’s powerful public relations machine has successfully upheld that perception by deliberately saying not a lot, if anything, ever.
The other, arguably more serious, red-flag for the lives our Royals lead was revealed in the ‘black spider’ memos in 2015. The Guardian initially tried to get the correspondence between Prince Charles and government ministers made public in 2010, but the Government tried their best to keep them secret, all the way through to a fight in the Supreme Court. What was eventually uncovered was letters between the heir to the throne and the highest members of government including the then Prime Minister. That an unelected, supposedly non-politically biased member of the public can have direct communications with our elected representatives, and the Government of the day tries to keep it secret, when it’s clearly in the national interest to have transparency, is deeply worrying.
If we want to “Take Back Control” and put sovereignty back into the hands of The People then we need to strip the monarchy of their legislative powers, and stop misdirecting tax money to them and their vodka lunches. They still own a significant proportion of the land in the UK, let’s start by turning Buckingham Palace into a museum. It’s being renovated using taxpayers money – let’s open it up to the public.
— The Grenadier Guards (@JoinGrenadiers) November 2, 2017
There’s the monetary, asset based concerns, and then there’s their political clout. The King of Spain recently intervened in the constitutional storm surrounding Catalonia’s bid for independence. He was stridently in favour of one side of the argument – not even pretending to be a neutral arbiter in the crisis. I believe that this is what we can expect to see from Charles when he becomes King of the United Kingdom.
It’s utterly ridiculous that the family of aristocrats still commands so much money, land and power in 2017. Maybe we should take the opportunity presented by Queen Elizabeth’s passing of the crown to her son as an opportunity to radically take back our democratic sovereignty.