Monarchy or a Republic?
What do you prefer?
By Ismail Veli……
The debate about the British Monarchy and its usefulness occasionally rears its head. There are many who consider the Royal family an expensive and outdated institution, while others see it as the continuity of a stable and proud tradition that keeps the country together.
I’m not a royalist in the true sense of the word. There are many countries who have Monarchies who interfere or even rule as they did hundreds of years ago, with an iron hand. The British monarchy on the other hand is unique and mostly respected. Though officially Head of State, we all know that Queen Elizabeth’s role is largely as a figurehead. British Parliamentary democracy, though not perfect, is as good as one could expect. So while I’m not a royalist, I have a great deal of respect for our Queen who happens to be the longest reigning monarch in British history. I would go as far as to claim that millions of tourists bringing billions of revenue are earned as a direct result of this amazing royal heritage in the UK. One only needs to visit Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle etc to see the immense number of people who flock to see Britain’s royal heritage.
Some complain that the royal family earns money simply because of their birthright. That may be true, but compare that to the infinite number of charities supported by many members of the family. I would not hesitate to say that the royal family probably earns a large number of business deals for the UK simply because of their positive contacts and efforts. So what’s the alternative? A President with a large political office, elections every 4-5 years and more bureaucracy and political propaganda with which we are often saturated, and simply fed up with. Who in their right mind wants more politicians promising the world and delivering little while we hear their endless excuses and ideological bickering on our TVs in never ending interviews. Thanks but no thanks…….
The debate about the costs or viability of the monarchy is nothing new. It may surprise people to know that in 1840 the House of Commons was so critical of the Royal expenses that they voted to reduce Prince Albert’s allowance by £20.000, Strangely the reduction itself was the same amount that Henry the VIII spent on the court per annum during his reign between 1491 and 1547. George III conscience of grumbling voices about the civil list expenses which had risen to £1.030.000 by 1730, proposed and made a deal with Parliament to cut the ‘Privy Purse’ budget which included salaries for Ambassadors and state officials in return for a much smaller but guaranteed annual income. Queen Victoria went further a hundred years later and renounced all hereditary revenues of the crown for a yearly payment of £385.000. These reforms paved the way for Crown lands to be used by the public. In fact many famous shops and theatres are built on crown land.
In more recent times in 1947, 165 Labour MP.s voted for an amendment to cut the allowances of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. This however was defeated in a House of Commons vote. In the 2012-2013 budget the Queen was given £31 million pounds for expenses. This may seem a massive amount, but at about 50 pence per person the Queen’s expenses include maintenance of royal estates, not to mention public engagements that amount to at least 400 a year.
On costs the British monarchy is much cheaper than the French Presidency whose expenses in 2015 amounted to £91 million (about £1.40p per person). As for Italy the budget was a whopping £181.5 million. (just over £3.00 per person) The recent building of the Turkish Presidential palace alone is estimated to have costs about £385 million. This amounts to at least 11 years of the UK royal budget. Let’s not forget that election expenses and campaigning by many candidates must surely increase these amounts as they are taken every 4-5 years. The Polish presidential expenses are closer to the Queens budget which comes out at £34 million, while Germany as usual is much more economical in its expenses at just under £31 million. This however is also deceptive as ex Presidents in Germany and other countries continue to receive annual salaries, this often amounts to millions of pounds due to the fact that 4-6 Presidents may be alive in their retirement at any one time.
Instead of looking at the negative aspects of the British monarchy, it may be well for us to ponder and look around the world and ask ourselves. How many other countries in the world have the continuity, stability and democracy that we enjoy in the UK? Not many I would dare to say. Who the hell wants a President (past or present) like Silvio Berlusconi, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Recep Tayip Erdogan, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Uhuru Kenyatta or perish the thought a Donald Trump.
As a cartoon character when accused used to say, ”uhh uh not me”.
In this short article I would like to share some known but also many rare photos of Queen Elizabeth and her family from my own personal collection. They are from the original ”Post Magazine” published on 23 February 1952, this was 17 days after she became Queen, and 4 months before her coronation. It covers her life since she was a child. We often forget that for all her poise and royal dignity on an official level, there is a real human being behind the lady. Her childhood photos in particular could to the unsuspecting eye be that of any ordinary child who enjoys fun, games and shops.