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Monarchs – What are They Good For?


I’ve often wondered about the purpose of having a monarch, particularly when they don’t do anything and just cost lots of money. But, given the tourism value of our monarchy, I’ve always thought it was wise to let them be. They earn their keep, even if they are an embarrassing anachronism.

Today I read that Prince Harry has been filmed using racist language, and I wonder why we persist with an institution that is essentially a bizarre family, running rampant, funded by taxpayers who increasingly can’t afford it.

So here’s a little debate on the monarchy.


Tourists love the British royal family (allegedly). Tourism is good for the economy; ergo, royal family is good for Britain. (In reality, only one royal residence makes the top 20 list of tourist attractions [according to Republic] and the town of Windsor’s favourite attraction is Legoland, not Windsor Castle.)


The royal family cost £150m £40m a year – money that could pay for a 8792 a few new nurses or 15 half a schools.

Our monarch serves no real purpose, other than to attract tourists, a job she’s not very good at.

The royal family are frequently the source of international embarrassment. Whether it’s Diana’s jet-set philandering, Harry’s racist remarks, Charles’ chatting to plants, Fergie being herself or Prince Philip’s racist remarks, the royals don’t improve Britain’s reputation.

The royal family are an anachronism. We didn’t stick to beheading just because it was traditional.


It’s time to sack the royal family.

(Picture of the Royle Family courtesy of the Guardian)

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  1. Where did you get the figure of £ 150 m? The British taxpayer pays only £40 million last year. The £40 million work outs at the equivalent of 66 pence per person in the country which is less than two pints of milk or a download of an music track.

    Unlike French president Sarkozy or US-president George Bush the Queen does not get a salary. The Royal Budget is mainly spent on people who work for the Monarchy. As long as a country has a head of state, costs arise to keep the machinery going – in a Monarchy as well as in a republic.

    The French pay much more for their republican head of state and his semi-royal family: After giving himself a 206% salary increase in October 2007, and at the same time, tripling the budget of Elysée, the Sarkozy inflation continues. The news goes back to October 3, but hardly made waves. Les Echos revealed a new increase in the budget of the “hyper-presidency”. When the budget had gone from 32.3 million euros to 100.8 million, the Palace, to justify itself, pointed to the “ensemble of operating costs and of personnel that was formerly covered by a dozen ministries, not directly by Elysée.

    Royalists last blog post..

    • Slightly tangential, but two other monciahrst SF options (not that I’m sure I’m getting monciahrst right):_The Keltiad_ by Patricia Kennealy (at least _The Tales of Aeron_)_The Jaran_ by Kate Elliott (well, sort of – Empire, and not specifically pro-Empire, but that’s complicated)Someone in the other thread already mentioned Honor Harrington.

  2. Me

    Hi, thanks for stopping by. I’m not sure where I got that figure from. I’ll change it to your figure.

    Although I must say I’m horrified to think that every man, woman and child in the UK could have a music track download if we just removed the monarchy. Do you have any idea how valuable music is? How can you possibly claim that the Queen and her demented family are more useful or popular than MUSIC?

    I appreciate you taking the time to comment – you certainly know the subject very well. Considering this, could you explain what the Queen actually does? Why do we need a Queen? What does a head of state really do?

    If the queen has any diplomatic responsibilities, I think they should be taken away, as no unelected official (or unemployed for that matter) should be representing the British people on matters of state.

    What do you like about the royal family? What have they done for you lately? (I’m genuinely interested)

  3. Hi

    The £150m is the more accurate figure – see

    The rubbish about 66p per person is just Buck House spin.

    The tourism argument is also nonsense… not one jot of evidence backs it up.

    However, even if you’re going to believe the tourism argument and the Buck House spin on costs – it’s completely irrelevant.

    The monarchy is the basis of our constitution, it is what gives our politicians too much power and it is what robs us of a decent democracy. The issue needs to be debated on democratic merits, not pounds and pence (which, by any measure, is a small part of our national budget).

    Mind you, other comparable presidencies in Europe cost less than £10m each.

  4. Me

    Hi Graham,

    Do you think the monarchy have any merits?

    Because I’m struggling to see any good emerging from the Queen and her increasingly erratic family.

    I feel like I’ve removed a pair of blinding sunglasses, and now I can see the reality: the royal family is deeply odd. I’ve glimpsed the matrix!

    I’m still keenly awaiting the revelation of a reason to keep the royal family.

  5. The civil list of £ 40m was granted by Parliament and is not “Buck House spin”. Of course some cost are not included, like security. But I know of no other head of state’s budget, where this would be included. Check the French president’s or the German president’s budget. Or do you think president-elect Barack Obama pays for the guys and cars that protect him and every member of his family?
    The financial report of the Royal Family can be downloaded here:

    Graham argued “the monarchy is the basis of our constitution, it is what gives our politicians too much power and it is what robs us of a decent democracy.” Funny, get rid of the one position in the country to install a “politicians republic”. No matter where you look in republics, it is mostly a politician who is head of state or a military who seized power via a military coup d’état.

    I never argued with tourism to uphold the Monarchy. Tourists may still come to visit the castles, which would have to be keep in good shape. Buckingham Palace is in urgent need for repair, but the government doesn’t grant funding. The civil list is too stretched to channel money from there to Buckingham Palace. In a republic, there would be no Monarch to ask for the repair money, it would be a politician and he would certainly not be as polite as the Queen.

    The existence of a hereditary Monarch keeps the politicians in their place. However eminent a prime minister may become, he is always subject to a higher personal authority. Ambition, politicking and intrigue can never take someone to the highest office in the land, and he can never aggrandise himself by claiming to be the head and ultimate representative of the nation. A British prime minister can be verbally mauled in the legislature, and summarily dismissed by it, with a level of disrespect which few nations would be happy to show to their Head of State, but might like to inflict on their lesser politicians. Although, in practice, it is always the politicians who give the orders and run the country, if they go far beyond their authority, others can, in theory, defy them by claiming allegiance to the higher authority of the Crown, which is duty-bound to uphold the democratic order without personal interest or favour. This argument has never been put to the test in the UK, and has had mixed success elsewhere.

    Proponents of a republic might argue that their head of state has at least been chosen by the people, and so has a right to command their respect, but the flip-side of that is that every elected president was opposed by a sizable section of the population, which may feel little loyalty or respect for the man they didn’t want to represent it.

    Personal loyalty is easier to achieve, and personal loyalty perhaps has more resonance than loyalty to an inanimate flag or amorphous state. That loyalty is also easier to feel towards people with whom one has been familiar all one’s life. With only the gradual changes of births and deaths, the Royal Family has always been with us, without the constant changes which come with elections every few years.

    Royalists last blog post..


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