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Question d'actualité - The Cost of the British Monarchy

Par Annalena Geisler : Étudiante en Master - ENS de Lyon
Publié par Annalena Geisler le 06/07/2023
The coronation of King Charles III on the 6th of May 2023 has provoked much debate in the United Kingdom: the cost of living crisis, worsened by inflation, has prompted many citizens to criticise the large sums spent on royal festivities. This points to growing scepticism regarding the cost and relevance of the Royal Family, especially since the death of Queen Elizabeth II. This page provides resources to help understand the cost and finances of the monarchy and the royalist and antiroyalist sentiments of the British people.

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).

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

  • 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

2.2 Dissent and protest against the monarchy is becoming increasingly difficult

2.3 Voices from abroad: what does the Commonwealth (and former colonies) think of the Crown?

2.4 Charles III and the future of the monarchy

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 22/02/2024. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/civilisation/domaine-britannique/question-dactualite-the-cost-of-the-british-monarchy