Abolish the Monarchy

The Royal Family has long served as the identity of the United Kingdom, but is the monarchy still truly necessary?


courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A costly and irrelevant tradition, the British monarchy has no place in a modern democracy.

If you’ve been on the Internet in the past few days, chances are that you have heard about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to “step back” from their positions as senior royals in an attempt to become financially independent while continuing to support the Queen. 

However, after reading the news, I can’t help but ask: What is the need for the British Monarchy?

Sure, the British Royal Family has long served as the national identity of the United Kingdom by undertaking various constitutional and representational duties in order to provide its people with a sense of unity, pride, stability; but even so, the costs of allowing the British monarchy to persist far outweigh the benefits. 

Having the ability and opportunity to influence Britain’s government all while defending her own interests, the queen holds an immense amount of power for someone whose job merely consists of attending cultural and sporting events, ribbon cutting, and occasionally delivering bland and repetitive speeches.

The issue, however, lies within British taxpayers’ obligation to cough up millions annually to fund the lavish lifestyles of the queen and her 15 supposedly working royals. The total Sovereign Grant, covering the costs of travel, security, and staff, for the past year, amounted to roughly £82 million, equivalent to approximately £1.24 per individual in the United Kingdom. While looking at this from an individual’s perspective, the amount owed per year is close to nothing, but when looking at all that these taxes are used to fund, financing the Royal Family seems a simply absurd waste of taxes. 

Often shrouded in spin and denial, the royal finances are far higher than the value that the family chooses to report. The Sovereign Grant is merely one part of the total cost of the monarchy. For example, the Duke of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster provide the Queen and Prince Charles directly with an annual income, despite the fact that their income belongs to the nation, thus depriving the treasury of tens of millions of pounds each year. Moreover, with the royal family’s security bill picked up by the metropolitan police and the costs of royal visits borne by local councils, the monarchy seriously understates the amount of money they are granted in their “official” report.

Taking all the aforementioned hidden expenditures into account, it is estimated that the real cost of the monarchy to British taxpayers is likely around £345 million annually.

In response to the costs, proponents of the monarchy argue that the Royal Family adds “value to the economy” by bringing in nearly £500 million in 2017 just in tourism. Whether it is said out of genuine support for the monarchy or as a clever public relations strategy to save an institution in crisis, the potential for a dropoff in terms of tourism is being seriously overstated as there is no solid research proving that the revenue generated has anything to do with the monarchy exclusively. The places that millions of tourists come to visit each year, including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, hold historical significance. Therefore, abolishing the monarchy would essentially have little to no impact on tourism, as these sites will certainly not cease to exist if there were no longer a king or queen.

Often shrouded in spin and denial, the royal finances are far higher than the value that the family chooses to report.”

Perhaps because I speak from across the Atlantic, viewing monarchies as a rather distant and foreign concept, the fact that the British are unabashed in regard to this archaic institution strikes me as being odd. They, like us, vote in fair elections, yet they still cannot pick their head of state. Granted that the roles of the royal family are largely ceremonial, they nevertheless stand high on the pedestal in representation of the British people, which should serve as the perfect reason for the people to have the ability to select whom exactly they would like to stand by. 

The institution of the monarchy, as it seems, is essentially a grand ploy that fails to live up to the standards of accountability and integrity that it sets for itself. In the status quo, the royals are born into a profligate life and referred to as “majesty” through no effort or merit of their own. The queen sleeps in a massive castle, wears jeweled crowns, holds a scepter, and recognizes people’s accomplishments by tapping them on their shoulders with a sword. Essentially, she is a relic, and it’s 2020.

Don’t get me wrong. Queen Elizabeth II is an adorable (great) grandmother-like figure, but perhaps it is finally time that we allow the 93-year-old to rest, as anyone at that age should, by abolishing the monarchy.