Question d'actualité - The Cost of the British Monarchy
1. The Cost and Wealth of the Crown
1.1 Where does the Royal wealth come from?
- “Financial Reports" (Royal Declaration; Official Website of the Royal Family). Every year, Buckingham Palace publishes a financial report which (partially) discloses the Royal Family’s income and expenditures. The website also lists all of the gifts that have been given to members of the Royal Family.
- “How the British Royal Family makes money” (Video; Vox,19/02/20). This video offers an overview of the Royal Family's sources of income (apart from the Royal Grant which is financed by British taxpayers).
- “Inside ‘The Firm’: How The Royal Family’s $28 Billion Money Machine Really Works” (Article; Forbes, 10/03/21). This article gives some insight into who controls the financial decisions of the Crown and delves into the investments, earnings, and assets of the different members of the Royal Family.
- “King Charles and Queen Camilla are spoilt for choice with a 12-strong portfolio of palaces” (Article; The New Zealand Herald, 05/06/23). Gordon Raynor’s overview of the different estates and palaces which the King and Queen have at their disposal makes visible another dimension of the Royal Family’s wealth.
- “Cost of the Crown” series by The Guardian. This extensive investigation into the finances of the British Crown provides the reader with a wide range of resources (podcasts, articles, interviews etc.) in an attempt to disclose the extent of the Royal Family’s wealth and analyse some controversies surrounding their income.
- “Cost of the crown part 4: calculating the king’s wealth” (Podcast; The Guardian, 04/05/23). This podcast episode summarises The Guardian’s inquiry into the cost of the Crown and attempts to make an (unprecedented) estimate of the totality of the Crown’s wealth.
1.2 Cost vs. income for the United Kingdom
- “Royal Contribution to Charities” (Royal Declaration; Official Website of the Royal Family). This statement, in which Meghan and Harry explain that they prefer for their wedding guests to donate to charities instead of presenting them with personal gifts, epitomises the Royals’ contribution to charity work in the United Kingdom.
- “What the Royal Family Costs U.K. Taxpayers and How It’s Spent” (Video; Wall Street Journal, 19/09/23). The Wall Street Journal explains to what extent the Royal Family is financed by British taxpayers.
- “Here's What We Know About the Vast Cost of King Charles III's Coronation” (Article; Time, 28/04/23). This article investigates the cost of King Charles’s coronation amidst the ongoing economic crisis in the United Kingdom.
- “Does British tourism really need the Royal Family?” (Article; CNN, 15/03/23). This article investigates the extent to which the Royal Family attracts tourists to the United Kingdom and how much money they bring in.
- “The Queen Is Everywhere. What Will The Royal Makeover Cost?” (Article; The New York Times, 18/09/22). After the Queen’s death, the United Kingdom initiated the lengthy and costly process of replacing her initials and her portrait on post boxes, coins, stamps etc. with that of King Charles.
- “The Royal Wedding Cheers Up Everybody” (Cartoon; CartoonStock). This cartoon encourages the viewer to think of how the money spent on events such as the Royal wedding could be put to different (and perhaps better) use. While some parts of the population think of the Royal Family as entertaining, others may look at them as a distraction from socio-economic problems. In this cartoon, the sitting vs. standing position of the two individuals, their different facial expressions and physical appearances, as well as their utterances are striking as they draw attention to their different perspectives and backgrounds.
- “King's Coronation to Pay for" (Cartoon; CartoonStock). This cartoon hints at the tremendous cost of Royal events such as weddings, funeral, and coronations which the city of London has to partially finance as they need to pay for security, clean-up operations etc. Should the Royal Family be made to pay for these expenditures themselves?
1.3 The secrecy surrounding the Royal Family’s wealth
- “How the British Royal Family hides its wealth from public scrutiny” (Article; The Guardian, 05/04/23). The Royal Family refuses to disclose any information about their wealth. This article investigates how they may financially benefit from this lack of transparency
- “The Dark Secret Behind the Royal Family's Wealth” (Video; Vice, 07/10/22). This video attempts to provide viewers with an estimate of the wealth which the Royal Family has acquired over the years, thanks to their involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.
- “Five ways the monarchy has benefited from colonialism and slavery” (Article; The Conversation, 24/03/22). After the setback which the Prince and the Princess of Wales experienced during their tour in the Caribbean, Laura Clancey goes through the different links that the Royal Family has had to the transatlantic slave trade.
2. How is the Crown perceived in the United Kingdom and the former colonies?
2.1 Monarchists vs. Republicans
- “The Role of the Royal Family” (Royal Declaration; Official Website of the Royal Family). This official website gives insight into the roles of the members of the Royal Family and the various duties they perform.
- “In defence of Kings and Queens: why the monarch matters” (Article; BBC, 10/12/10). In this opinion piece, Phillip Blond contends that the role of the monarch matters to the political system of modern nations.
- “Who are the monarchists?” (Statistics; YouGov, 18/05/18). This article presents various statistics on the demographic, socio-economic and political backgrounds of British monarchists.
- “We Asked Some Young Royalists Why They Love the British Monarchy” (Article; Vice, 09/09/15). Statistics often show that the average British royalist is 50 years-old or older. Maya Oppenheim explores the relationship that younger monarchists have with the British Crown.
- “‘Like an appendix. We’ve long evolved past needing them’” (Video; Last Week Tonight, 14/11/22). In this 30-minute satiric video, John Oliver makes a case for the abolition of the Crown.
- “Clearly Britain loses more than it gains from the monarchy. Let us be brave and end it” (Opinion Piece; The Guardian, 17/02/22). Polly Toynbee explains why the Queen's Platinum Jubilee would have been the right moment for her to abdicate. The journalist presents her arguments against constitutional monarchy.
- “Anti-monarchists see an opportunity to prove their point in the coronation events” (Article; The New York Times, 06/05/23). After laying low during the time of national grief following the Queen’s death, the anti-monarchy movement is galvanised by the cost of King Charles’s coronation. Emma Bubola looks into the anti-royalist critique of the coronation.
- “A monarchist and a republican go head to head” (Video; The Economist, 22/07/16). In this discussion, a monarchist and a republican are asked to comment on key issues such as elitism, history, and identity with regard to the monarchy in the United Kingdom.
2.2 Dissent and protest against the monarchy is becoming increasingly difficult
- “When did the British become so uptight about mocking the monarch?” (Article; The Conversation, 07/10/2015). The historian David Francis Taylor presents an overview of British satire and comedy about the Royal Family of past centuries and demonstrates how they are increasingly scrutinised by the British public.
- “Why is parliament still banning itself from talking about the monarchy?” (Article; The Guardian, 25/01/22). Martin Kettle criticises the convention which forbids MPs to discuss or refer to Royal Family members in Parliament.
- “Politicians Who Oppose Monarchy Get 'Onslaught' Of Abuse And Death Threats, Says Labour MP” (Article; The Huffington Post, 19/05/18). This article sheds light on the challenges and dangers which MPs face when they publicly criticise the Royal Family.
- "‘I Was Arrested for Criticising the British Monarchy’" (Article; Vice, 13/09/22). Matthew Champion offers various examples to show how, since the Queen’s death, individuals have been arrested for holding up signs during peaceful protests in the street.
- “Arresting people for criticising the monarchy will only damage the monarchy itself” (Opinion Piece; The Daily Mail, 13/09/22). In this opinion piece, royalist Andrew Marr explains why the police’s severe handling of anti-monarchy protests harms the image of the Royal Family.
2.3 Voices from abroad: what does the Commonwealth (and former colonies) think of the Crown?
- “The Queen and the Commonwealth” (Royal Declaration; Official Website of the Royal Family). Queen Elizabeth’s reign is deeply associated with the political union of the Commonwealth. This website grants insights into their shared history.
- “Dismay over King Charles’s coronation raises questions about Canada’s ties to the monarchy” (Article; The Conversation, 09/05/23). This contrast between the British and Canadian political systems clarifies why some Canadians want to distance themselves from the British Crown.
- “There’s a strong case to be made for constitutional monarchies. But there’s no case for one in Australia” (Article; The Conversation, 02/09/21). Dennis Altmann explains why Australia has a less enthusiastic and nostalgic relationship to the British Crown than British society and why Australians should get rid of the British monarch as their official head of state.
- “The death of Queen Elizabeth II, and the uses (and abuses) of royalty” (Article; The Daily Maverick, 11/09/22). J. Brooks Spector presents the reader with a South African point of view on the question whether monarchies are still relevant today.
- “King Charles and the British Empire” (Cartoon; CartoonStock). In this cartoon, King Charles’s III frail sober little barge hidden behind the impressively decorated façade of a battleship and the oversized British flag allude to the continued shrinking in size and importance of the Commonwealth.
2.4 Charles III and the future of the monarchy
- “‘It’s not a good look.’ As the cost of living crisis bites, some Brits are questioning spending money on glitzy coronation” (Article; CNN, 02/05/23). Ivana Kottasová shows how the staggering cost of the coronation during a period of inflation damages the popularity of the Crown.
- “Coronation: How popular is the monarchy under King Charles?” (Article; BBC, 24/04/23). Since the death of Queen Elisabeth, the British monarchy finds itself in a period of transition. Jane Corbin & Sean Coughlan attempt to evaluate how the Crown’s popularity has been impacted by King Charles’s ascent to the throne.
- “'It's so boring!': Trooping the Colour fans say they MISSED seeing extended Royal Family on Buckingham Palace balcony after the King's decision to pare down the monarchy” (Article; The Daily Mail, 18/06/23). King Charles’s efforts to trim down the cost of the Crown are criticised by supporters of the monarchy.
- “General Survey on Popularity of Monarchs: where does public opinion stand on the monarchy ahead of the coronation?” (Statistics; YouGov, 03/05/23). This article analyses statistics on the popularity of the Royal Family.
- “Is the British Monarchy actually adapting to changing social norms?” (Article; The Conversation, 01/12/17). This article examines to what extent Meghan’s integration into the Royal Family was a sign of progress from archaic Royal etiquette.
- “What do ethnic minority Britons think of the monarchy and Royal Family?” (Statistics; YouGov, 03/05/23). Tanya Abraham offers an insightful analysis of surveys into the popularity of the Royal Family among British ethnic minorities.
- “'King Charles, Who?' How Gen Z Really Feels About A New Monarch” (Article; Huffington Post, 15/09/22). At the occasion of King Charles’s coronation, this article explores why younger generations dislike the British monarchy.
- “Monarchy and the British Political Elite: Closet Republicans in the House of Commons” (Research; JSTOR, January 2011). This research article analyses past efforts and campaigns by MPs to abolish or diminish the role of the Crown in the United Kingdom and explains why few politicians expect things to actually change in the foreseeable future.
- “Abolish the monarchy and replace the whole sordid crew with a marsupial!” (Cartoon; The Guardian, 23/09/22). The First Dog on the Moon offers humoristic guidelines for the abolition of the British monarchy.
- “In the Shadow of Queen Elizabeth” (Cartoon; Cartoon Movement, 12/09/22). The gigantic shadow of Queen Elisabeth looming over a small King Charles in this cartoon evokes the question of whether the King will manage to follow up on her popularity.
- "Coronation Meets Socioeconomic Crisis" (Cartoon; Cartoon Movement, 04/05/23). This cartoon draws attention to various socio-economic problems in the United Kingdom which have been deprived of media, public, and government attention due to King Charles’s coronation.
Pour citer cette ressource :
Annalena Geisler, "Question d'actualité - The Cost of the British Monarchy", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), juillet 2023. Consulté le 28/09/2023. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/civilisation/domaine-britannique/question-dactualite-the-cost-of-the-british-monarchy