True Costs of Monarchy Revealed
London - Yesterday's AK Files and newsletter offered some exciting activities regarding this year's Diamond Jubilee celebration of Queen Elizabeth II. Her sixty-year reign has, so far, only been exceeded by that of Queen Victoria.
As with any story regarding the Monarchy, many art collector members of ArtKabinett network responded with a customary disdain for this royal waste of public funds.
Today, we will set the record straight as to the official debits and credits generated by the Windsor brood:
Let's assume that the queen is merely a lazy toad, with free access to numerous castles, corgis, and cauldrons of gin. Just how much does this cost the UK citizenry annually to maintain?
The answer is £40 million, which presently constitutes "the royal allowance".
That’s about 65 pence per person per year of tax money. It might not sound like a lot per bloke, but if these were your coins, why does the queen get to steal them?
Here is the story in a nutshell:
George III, most well known as the insane king (probably due to a neurologic manifestation of the disease, porphyria) who lost the United States, wracked up huge debts and could not pay his bills.
Seems like Americans are always causing some global debt crisis, or another!
While he did own huge tracts of land, the profit from their rental was too small to cover his expenses.
He offered a deal to parliament: for the rest of his life he would surrender the profits from the rents on his lands -- the "Crown Estates" -- in exchange for getting a fixed annual salary and having his debts erased.
Parliament took him up on the deal, guessing that the profits from the rents of the Estates would pay off long-term.
Just how well did parliament do? Back to the present, let’s compare their profits and losses:
The present annual cost -- approved legislatively -- to maintain the royal family is £40 million. Obviously there are some additional security costs borne by the government. But this is similar to sums spent by other nations to protect visiting terrorist dignitaries, irrelevant political candidates, etc.
However, the revenue paid to the UK from the Crown Estates now exceeds £200 million. Thus, the United Kingdom earns £160 million in annual profit. Indeed, the royal family makes great money for Great Britain.
Doing the individual math again: £160 million divided by a population of 62 million is about £2.60 each, or almost 400% return on per capita tax investment.
As for all those crown jewels, great artworks, and verdant properties, Her Majesty will never get the opportunity to consign at Christie's like other rich collectors, because she technically only holds them in trust for the state.
Perhaps that’s not enough for you because you’re a greedy geezer. Why not kick out the royals and keep 100% of the revenue? Because you cannot.
It is still their land. King George the crazy wasn’t crazy enough to give up everything, just the profits. Indeed, every Monarch since George III has voluntarily surrendered the profits from their land to the United Kingdom, whilst retaining deeded title.
Why not just void the deeds, seize their lands and kick them out? Because that is called Cuba.
If the government stopped paying the royal family living and state expenses, they would be forced to take back their land profits. And British taxes would go up not down.
Plus £160 million is just the easily measurable money. Don’t forget their huge indirect golden goose: tourists.
Annoying though they might be to the locals by blocking the tube and refusing to stand on the right, foreign visitors dump buckets of money on the UK to see the sights and travel ludicrously short distances by public transport. Also, they typically do not know how to purchase discount passes.
Sure not everything they come to see is royal, but the most expensive stuff is, with hefty admission fees.
Americans, in particular, fly across an ocean to visit a land filled with castles that aren’t constructed of polycarbonate fiber, located in reclaimed Florida swamp, or accompanied by dancing cartoon characters and kiddie rides.
And why do many folks think that France's castles are so boring, and the UK’s castles so awesome? Because real monarchs still use them.
The Tower of London is so stunning to visitors because the Royal Crest on the Yeomen Warders Uniform is real. It’s the embodiment of the living, breathing queen.
Everywhere you look she’s sprinkled fairy dust on banal objects to make them magically attractive to tourists. Twelve million of whom visit every year spending £7 billion suddenly makes those direct profits look like rather small change.
But perhaps you don’t care that the monarchs are a perpetual gold mine for the UK. You’re a Republican and you dislike the royal family because of their political power. After all, the government gets all its right to rule through the crown, not the people.
And yes, we'll grant you that back in the head-choppy days of yore, this was a legitimate concern, but the modern queen isn’t a dangerous political lion but a declawed kitten. Her powers are limited to a kabuki theater act of approving what parliament wants to do anyway.
Remove the royal family from government and fundamentally nothing would be different except now you wouldn’t live in the magical United Kingdom but the rather dull United Republic of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland., a.k.a., URESWNI for short.
Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?