The last few days have seen wall to wall coverage about Harry and Meghan, faux outage a plenty, whipped up sentiment and pure hyperbole has ensued from the lickspittles and sycophants alike, the type of people who scream and shout about democracy yet will defend an unelected Head of State as being beyond reproach.
The same people who steadfast refuse to acknowledge the inherent racism prevalent through the institutions of our society…I don’t know if anyone remembers the recent Windrush scandal, no? Or perhaps just a passing knowledge of British history should do it.
I have little sympathy for Harry and Meghan’s ‘plight’, but there is no denying the difference in treatment between the ‘English Rose’, Kate, and the ‘dusky divorcee’, Meghan.
Much of the *debate* has been pushed by the media toward money, or more to the point, taxpayer money. There are those who are outraged at the prospect of a member of the country’s biggest family of benefit scroungers continuing to enjoy some of those benefits.
But they daren’t raise the bigger, more pertinent question, which is why are we paying for any of them at all?
Whether it’s covering the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s home renovations with £2.4m of taxpayer-funded costs, or spending £2.3 million on official hospitality and housekeeping last year, including £1.7 million on food and drink, one has to ask…why?
The Sovereign Grant for 2018-19 was £82.2 million (Core £49.3 million and Reservicing £32.9 million).
So what exactly are we getting in return?
We are constantly being told by the right wing press that the monarchy greatly benefits the economy through tourism…
Like in the Express;
“The royal family brought in £550 million a year for British tourism in the past year alone, according to a report from Brand Finance.”
The Daily Mail were even more outlandish is their claims;
“The findings [again from Brand Finance…notice the theme?] also showed that due to its effect on tourism, the media and other industries, the country’s economy is boosted by £1.76bn every year.”
Here’s the thing. Brand Finance are a marketing company EMPLOYED by the monarchy. Their services include;
“expertise in strategy, branding, market research, visual identity, finance, tax and intellectual property, we now work not just with marketers and finance teams, but also brand owners, investors, lawyers, governments, tax professionals and many more.”
I wonder if it was their advice for the Queen to invest millions in offshore tax schemes, as revealed in the Paradise Papers.
The Paradise Papers leak revealed that the Queen has millions in a fund in the Cayman Islands that shields U.K investors from paying U.S tax, and also invested in BrightHouse – a company criticised for exploiting the poor.
There are at least thirteen tax territories with direct links to the Crown, the chances are she has more money in more schemes, which is exactly why nothing will be done about it.
The last Brand Finance report, published in 2017, is a complete work of utter nonsense, absolute bunkum.
For example, it attributed £152 million in income to the “Kate Effect”, which is described as an “uplift to fashion and other brands worn, used or otherwise endorsed”. £101 million is attributed to the “Charlotte Effect” and £76 million to the “George Effect,” while a total of £114 million has been calculated as the “Estimated value of PR”. I look forward to seeing what fantasy figure they associate to Meghan and the latest royal baby. Strangely, Brand Finance doesn’t say how these figures were estimated from total sales in their methodology. I wonder why.
They also claimed;
“The Monarchy’s contribution to the media industry and arts, estimated at £50 million this year, is mostly attributable to the mystique surrounding the Monarchy, which adds to the popularity of shows like The Crown and Victoria.”
Something completely unquantifiable, but they add it in a way.
Another fanciful claim they make;
“Bookings for hotels increased 30% year-on-year after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stayed on the island of Anglesey where Prince William was stationed during his military service.”
Really? That seems a little strange. Isn’t it odd how their figures exactly match the 30% increase in tourism that is being bought to Anglesey due to the increase in cruise ships.
“Around 13,000 high spending cruise ship passengers will dock on Anglesey this summer – giving a multi-million boost to the tourism economy … This is a 30% increase on passenger numbers in 2013 as the entire industry continues to boom around the UK“
But perhaps the most cynical claim of all is;
“The economic benefits generated by the Monarchy come at a very low expense to the British nation, equal to only £4.50 per person per year or just over 1p a day.“
As you can see from their own workings already, this is verifiably false. Isn’t it strange how none of the right-wing press deem fact-checking a marketing firms claims a time-worthy activity.
This is the type of spurious nonsense they have to come up with in order to justify our parasitic monarchy.
Let’s not forget, the Queen has a massive private income made from her personal investment portfolio and inherited private estates – which includes Balmoral Castle and the Sandringham Estate.
And then there are the Royal assets like Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Crown Jewels. Technically owned by the State as George III gave them to the government, but only so the taxpayer would have to forever pay to maintain them, and so they could never be taken from the ‘family’.
There is also the Duchy of Lancaster land, property and other assets of about 18,000 hectares in England and Wales, the income it generates is referred to as the Privy Purse.
“ • Charles has turned his vast personal fief, the Duchy of Cornwall, into a brand of high-end supermarket foods that makes an annual profit of more than £21 million ($27.1 million) on which he pays no corporate taxes.
• Although he pays income tax (albeit “voluntarily”) he is allowed to make huge deductions for expenses including the costs of a personal staff of 28, including butlers, valets and gardeners—as well as those of the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, including her jewels, clothes and stabling for horses.
• He pays market price rent to the Duchy on Highgrove, his sprawling country estate, but all that money comes straight back to him in the Duchy’s profits without any deductions for tax—amounting, in fact, to self-dealing.
• The Duchy audits its own accounts and gives no right of access to the government watchdog, the National Audit Office.
• When Charles made a tour of Europe to promote awareness of climate change he flew to Rome, Berlin and Venice on a private jet, leaving a carbon footprint of 52.95 tonnes—using commercial flights would have reduced emissions by 95 percent.
• The latest available annual travel costs (2018/19) for Charles and Camilla were £1.3 million ($1.68 million) and in that one year the carbon emissions generated by travel by the whole royal family doubled to 3,344 tonnes.”
The last eight percent increase in the Soverign Grant came as a “result of performance from the Crown Estates”.
Must be doing very well, then.
The last Sunday Times Rich List estimated the Queen’s personal fortune to be £370 million, but this can only be a (grossly underestimated) guess because the Queen is not required to make her private funds public, not only that, but who knows how much more money she has offshore.
Considering the practices of the Queens bankers, Coutts, anything is possible…and likely.
“the taxpayer-owned bank that provides accounts to the Queen, ran secretive tax haven services for a Brunei prince accused of stealing $15bn (£11.86bn) from his own people, leaked documents reveal.”
Also…”Coutts, banker to the Queen, has been given the biggest ever fine – £8.75m – for breaches of money-laundering rules after three years of “serious” and “systemic” problems in handling the affairs of customers vulnerable to corruption because of their political links.”
She has ‘voluntarily’ paid tax on her personal income since 1993 but, again, we don’t know how much. But you can be pretty sure that whatever she ‘pays’ in tax she more than gets back in the form of the Sovereign Grant. It’s essentially a tax rebate footed by the plebs on the claim of covering “official purposes”.
But what about the Royal weddings, what about the interest?
More people went to the Durham Miners’ Gala than this year’s two taxpayer-subsidised royal weddings combined. Here’s what people pay to see (spoiler alert – it’s not the Royals):
A freedom of Information request by the campaign group Republic reveals that there is no evidence that the Royal family increase tourism to the UK.
The request was made to VisitBritain, the tourism agency for the UK, to provide any evidence of the monarchy increasing tourism.
Chester Zoo, Stonehenge and the Roman Baths are all more successful tourist attractions than Windsor Castle, which is the only occupied royal residence to attract visitors in large numbers. If Windsor Castle was included in the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) list of top attractionsit would come in at number 24.
Republic claims that it’s own research shows the monarchy COSTS the UK £334 million a year, with each “working royal” costing the taxpayer £18.5 million a piece. Even this is a gross underestimation, for as I’ve highlighted, we have absolutely no idea of the Queen’s true wealth, assets or income. But one thing is for sure, their methodology is a damn sight more credible than Brand Finances.
Tony Robinsons’ documentary traced the family history of the British Royal Family and makes the argument, with the help of Debrett’s Peerage, the highest authority on such matters, that Queen Elizabeth is not the rightful heir to the throne of England – nor is anyone within her family.
17 years later and the words of Tony Benn seem more prophetic than ever…
“On Friday December 11 1936, when I was 11 years old, my parents allowed me to stay up late to hear the broadcast by King Edward VIII, who had just abdicated and was introduced as His Royal Highness Prince Edward of Windsor. I remember it very well.
It provided an important insight into our constitution, revealing that although the establishment was always swearing its undying loyalty to the king – as recently as January of that year every privy councillor and MP had sworn their allegiance to him when he succeeded to the throne – they were quite prepared to sacrifice him to save the monarchy. We should keep that fact in mind as rumours about Prince Charles fill the media, for the same issue could arise again.
I am not interested in the rumours themselves, which are of no concern to anyone other than those involved, the palace and the high court, which tried to prevent us from hearing them. Similar attempts were made in 1936 when the American press was full of stories about Mrs Simpson, none of which reached readers in Britain until the Bishop of Bradford preached a mild sermon about the duties of the king.
Stanley Baldwin very soon realised that the empire would not accept Mrs Simpson as queen, and forced the king to sign the instrument of abdication as the necessary pre-condition for the continuation of the crown itself. This was seen as essential to those who make up the establishment because it performs many functions that are held – by them – to be central to the maintenance of their own power and influence.
The royal prerogative, exercised not by the Queen but by the prime minister in her name, is seen as the final guarantee that democratic decisions by parliament and the people could never be allowed to undermine the hierarchical and semi-feudal system we have.
The fount of honour has been re-routed from Buckingham Palace and now sprays the holy water of patronage on the chosen few from 10 Downing Street, which appoints archbishops, bishops, cabinet ministers, peers and judges, and fills most senior government posts with the people it wants.
Declarations of war and Britain’s adherence to treaties such as the new European constitution are exercised under prerogative powers by the prime minister, who may or may not choose to consult the Commons or the electorate in a referendum.
Government policy is revealed in the Queen’s speech, which she does not write herself; all laws to be enacted require the royal assent; parliaments are all summoned and dissolved by royal proclamation; and the Commons even requires the consent of the Queen before it can elect a speaker, because we have a monarchy.
MPs have to swear allegiance to the Queen before they can take their seats, while those joining the privy council – a requirement for all cabinet ministers – have to do so in person, on bended knee, before the Queen herself.
As an MP, my true allegiance was to my party, my constituents and, above all, my conscience. Therefore, in order to serve in the Commons and the cabinet, I had to tell 18 lies under oath, which I found deeply offensive.
Above all, the existence of a hereditary monarchy helps to prop up all the privilege and patronage that corrupts our society; that is why the crown is seen as being of such importance to those who run the country – or enjoy the privileges it affords.
Years ago, when I was trying to get out of the House of Lords, I was warned that such a move would undermine the monarchy, whereas it was obvious that the monarchy was using the then hereditary House of Lords to prop itself up because it did not want to be alone in justifying its power by inheritance.
The case for electing our head of state and claiming our right to be citizens rather than subjects is unanswerable; the royal family could stay at Buckingham Palace, financing the changing of the guard by a grant from the tourist board, free to live the lives they want.
Such a change would transform the culture of Britain and radicalise the people by getting us off our knees – which would really frighten those at the top. They cling to the monarchy and would be ready, as in 1936, to ditch the king himself, or in this case the heir to the throne, leaving Prince Charles, unlike his predecessor in 1649, with his head but not his crown.
But such a solution would leave the rest of us no further forward in our search for democracy, saddled with a new, younger and more marketable king but one still replete with all the powers he would possess, which is exactly what the establishment would like to see, despite all we hear about modernisation.”
– Tony Benn