Anyone who knows me well enough, understands just how much respect I have for the British Royal Family. Ever since I was a small child, I would sit, transfixed on the television, whenever the Queen came on. Of course I have never met Her Majesty, but this Lady meant something to me. Apart from my own family, the Queen, was the constant in my life; the woman that never went away. Like a lot of British people, I felt I had a bond with Her, that was personal, enduring with real depth. The Queen was the person that held all of us together as a Nation, a mother figure and a Head of State, that never put a foot wrong. Most people at one stage or another, including me, have dreamt of having tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace and like most people, It has or never will happen. We live Worlds apart; I do however, respect and acknowledge her and the Royal Family, for the work they do, benefiting us all. As Head of State, at 92 years old, she has worked tirelessly for her Country, all her life, 65 years as Queen, she is the only Monarch most of us have ever known; still showing no signs of slowing down.
I am often criticized for my Royalist views; in 2017 it is not fashionable to support the Queen and her family, certainly not, among my generation. I have often been ridiculed for my opinions, by people who have no concept of the workings of a modern European Monarchy. The detractors, will often only see the surface trappings, enjoyed by a privileged few, but beneath this gilded cage, the real business of Monarchy is hard at work, making all of our lives a little better. I am well aware of the work that is carried out by the Queen and others, far over and above any other Head of State!
It was about a week ago, I was in Carabassi, having a rather heated discussion about the Royal Family with a fellow Expat, part of the course when you live in Spain. A lot of us like to discuss Britain, the state of the Nation and links to a Country, we used to call home. It just so happened, that Prince Harry had just announced his engagement to Maghan Markle, so all matters Royal were on our minds. The main attack, against the Queen, Prince Philip and others, was, just what do they do and what are we paying for?
The Queen and the Royal Family costs 56p for each per person in the UK annually, which works out at approximately 34 million pounds per annum. 24 percent down, on 2008/9 figures, in real terms. If we compare that expenditure to that of our nearest European neighbour France, we see a marked difference. France spends 103.5 million pounds annually on its Presidency, more than three times as much. The Queens personal fortune, estimated at 340 million pounds is a small fraction compared to the richest Royal Family in Europe, Lichtenstein, estimated at 4.9 billion pounds. Further afield, Thailand’s Monarch for example has a fortune worth, 20.8 billion pounds, making the net worth of our Head of State, seem tiny in comparison. Much of the wealth owned by generations of British Monarchs (The Crown Estate,) was surrendered to the state in 1760, by George III, in exchange for civil list payments, that continue to this day.
The Crown Estate is valued at approximately 14 billion pounds and is the biggest land owner in the UK. The income generated from this organisation, is 285 million pounds Per annum; remember, this was land owned by the monarch. If one deducts the payments from the Civil List, as a Nation, Britain gains 249 million pounds in income from these holdings. On that basis alone, each person pays 3.80 pounds less in tax per year, just because they have a Monarch. The Monarchy is still the biggest tourist earner, with most visitors sighting the Queen and others, as the reason they were visiting the UK. Here an estimated half a billion pounds is generated in income. Other benefits of a Monarchy, include a boost for the fashion industry, through clothes warn by the Royal Family as well as an extra injection of money, into the economy through one off royal events; all producers of income for the British tax payer. Already my Head of State is generating more money for UK plc, than she is taking from the Civil List, far more!
One of the biggest beneficiaries from the Monarchy are charities. Members of the Royal Family are Patrons to many charitable trusts, throughout the UK. In 2012 the Queen was Patron of 510 charities, generating an income, estimated at 1.4 billion pounds, a huge figure by anyone’s standards. the Queen and members of the Royal Family have promoted a culture, where giving money and time for the good of others is a normal thing to do. As a person who has volunteered myself in the past, I can confirm that, part of my dedication was due to the recognition given to volunteering, by the Queen. As a role model, Her Majesty offers an outlook on life, that all of us should aspire to. Her work ethic, even at 92 years old, sense of duty, responsibility and belief in the work that she champions, is a role call of her dedication. This Lady is a beacon for all of us and we should never forget, just what she has done for the British nation. It is easy to dismiss her as irrelevant, until you begin to scratch the surface, of just what she actually does.
Elizabeth II is a stickler for routine; she wakes every morning at 8am. After a light breakfast she will then deal with all her correspondence, followed by her dispatch boxes, which include important Government papers, that need Her Majesty’s oversight, opinion or signature. After lunch she will then deal with matters relating to the monarchy, royal palaces and staff; this is all on top of numerous public engagements, overseas visits and yearly events, that fill the royal calendar. The Queen lives a busy life, which benefits all of us, who call her majesty head of state.
The most important advantage to the Nation is continuity and stability. In a changing World, with trouble around every corner, unelected autocratic leaders, war, revolution and turbulence, the Queen has remained steadfast in her position as Head of State, not only in Britain, but also fifteen other Nations. The Monarchy has remained in its current form since the seventeenth century, after the civil war. The stability we enjoy is due to the position of the crown in the structure of society. The monarch remains the check and balance, that binds the nations of the United Kingdom together. While other monarchies fell across the World, Britain remained in a position of strength, united under a single figure head, leaving the politicians to govern. Her Majesty is the glue that holds all British people together. The key to the success of the British constitutional monarchy, is its ability to adapt to change, while in the face of disaster, other royal houses, refused to admit the need to evolve. The line of succession is secure for another hundred years, as younger royals take up the roles, HM can no longer execute; the future looks bright!
The next time, any one of us sits and ponders about the Royal Family, dismissing their relevance, mocking their abilities and denying their worth, we should all remember, just what their value is. Would Britain be the country it is today without them? I doubt it! The Queen herself remains the best public servant we have; we all owe her a great deal. Public opinion regards her highly, more now than ever. Whether you agree with me or not, one thing is for sure, the Monarchy is here to stay, at least in my lifetime and probably yours!