Note: This is a response to an article written by Brendan O’Neil, Editor of spiked. Often I’ll write out a lengthy and researched reply but never recieve a reply from the author. Rather then let the discussion be lost as it so often is, I’m hoping this new feature will help bring them to a wider audience.
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.
Kate’s baby and the myth of the monarchist masses
by Brendan O’Niel
You make a fair point Brendan, it is wrong of those who oppose the broad coverage of this event to look down upon those who do enjoy it. Arrogance is a terrible thing, regardless of if you are right or not. Another criticism you could make is that by writing about the royal birth these critics are increasing media coverage of the topic, and thereby directly attributing to what they supposedly despise. Both sides are playing to their readership. The birth is a hot topic, equally if you venerate or vindicate the royal family.
But by claiming that you know what “true” Republicanism means you are committing the same fallacy as those who you claim are “public-allergic republicans”. Namely, that you know better than those who should dare to mock the royal birth. A lot of these persons however are lower working class themselves. Your image of those who support the royal family and those who don’t is grossly inaccurate. Likewise, those who oppose the broad coverage of the royal birth have an equal right to share their reasons to why they oppose it, as those who follow it should be able to without obstruction. As you rightly stated, true republicanism is about what the people have to say. By standing up for one side, you ultimately do not stand for all people.
You also make the case that the royal family are nothing but celebrities, describing Kate as a “posh” Kim Kardashian. I must contend this notion. Queen Elizabeth II is a “constitutional monarch” meaning that she acts as head of state within the boundaries of a constitution. The royal family therefore have powers still enshrined in law, and are obligated to perform certain civic duties. If people enjoy them as celebrities, then they ought not to take any money from The Crown Estate and rescind these official duties. They should find ways to earn an income through the means that celebrities do, and not depend on profits from land passed down since the 11th century, land their ancestors claimed by supposed divine right.
These issues are increasingly important and unjustifiable in this age of austerity. If the average Joe has to incur cuts to the welfare estate, then so ought to the royal family, who increased their expenditure for three years in a row now. The royal’s use around £35 million of public money a year, profits from The Crown estate. This is excluding security services, which would put this total a lot higher. For instance, in 2012 The British government spent a grand total of $52 million on property upkeep, communication, security and travel expenses for The Queen.
This seems ludicrous when we consider that the cost of the controversial “Health Tourism” issue was estimated at only £30 million a year. What do you think brings more benefit to society; financing the royal family, or providing healthcare to those who need it? The government waged a successful war against providing free medical care to Non-EU citizens, an issue that is arguably incredibly important to tourism. Yet that same government argues the monarchy are necessary to tourism, hence we mustn’t stop funding them? What an utterly ridiculous and hypocritical contention.
The important question here is do we need an official constitutional monarchy? Honestly, probably not. Do I think people ought to be follow the lives of people that interest them? Of course, I’m not here to tell people what they can and cannot do with their free time. But this is under the condition that the royal family should be treated like normal celebrities and therefore normal citizens. They should not expect any special treatment from the government in the terms of financial assistance, and should rescind their official civic duties, titles, whilst operate using only their own income that is not from The Crown Estate.