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Monarchy or a Republic, what do you prefer?

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 There are many who consider the Royal family an expensive and outdated institution, while others see it as the continuity of a stable and proud tradition that keeps the country together.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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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10 replies »

  1. Excellent summary; other hereditary monarchies in Europe – Belgium, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden – all pretty stable…
    God help us if we ever change to elected heads of state! (Presidents? You missed out George W. Bush….)

  2. Time we got rid of them all to the shores of Canada, Australia etc. I hate them and the whole system. Put them into USA. They love them

    • Despite your passionate arguments and statistics, Yusuf, there are thousands of people who, at this very moment, are prepared to risk their lives get out of the Republic of France and into the United Kingdom, having passed through several other republics on their way. Perhaps you should find a way of alerting them to what an awful place the UK is.

  3. Simon, using the word hate is a bit harsh. The wonderful thing about a true democracy is we can off-course write and exchange views without the fear of the police knocking on our door in the night.
    I take it you prefer a president and want more politicians, elections and just the same amount of expenses?

    • I agree wholeheartedly with Simon. İsmail, your perspective is outdated and ill-informed. Why did you not mention about how much money the ‘Queen’ makes on the other attributes:
      “Queen Elizabeth II will get a 5% raise next year thanks to record real estate profits. The Crown Estate is a public body that manages the royal property, and the queen gets a salary (known as the Privy Purse) based on 15% of the profit from two years before. This has been a practice since 1760 after King George III ran up a massive debt, and was forced to surrender his family’s inheritance rights to The Crown Estate in exchange for an annual allowance of $1.3 million. The Crown Estate made a profit of $387.2 million last year, which is up 5.2% from the year before. Based on these numbers, the Queen should make about $58 million next year. The Crown Royal Estate is not her private property, so she has no control over it, but the total assets of the organization right now are about $12.4 billion.

      Some of the real estate property included in the Crown Estate’s portfolio includes offshore wind farms, rural housing developments, and shops in downtown London. Regent Street in London has a lot of Crown Estate property, and rents out to stores like J. Crew, Apple, Banana Republic, and Anthropologie.”

      “Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the Monarchy’s value at that point to be in excess of £44 billion ($67 billion). Three years on, its value now rests around £57 billion ($87 billion).

      However, Brand Finance estimated that the Royal Family’s net contribution to the UK economy is around £1.155 billion ($1.8 billion) for this year.

      Basically, a bulk of the upside the Royal Family provides in tourism and sales is cancelled out when you take into account how much it costs to look after them.”

      http://uk.businessinsider.com/the-queen-and-the-uk-royal-family-contribution-to-the-uk-economy-2015-9

      “Queen Elizabeth II the largest landowner on Earth.”

      Queen Elizabeth II, head of state of the United Kingdom and of 31 other states and territories, is the legal owner of about 6,600 million acres of land, one sixth of the earth’s non ocean surface.

      She is the only person on earth who owns whole countries, and who owns countries that are not her own domestic territory. This land ownership is separate from her role as head of state and is different from other monarchies where no such claim is made – Norway, Belgium, Denmark etc.

      The value of her land holding. £17t

      http://www.whoownstheworld.com/about-the-book/largest-landowner/

      İsmail; Your ‘echo’ of “I’m not a monarchist seems contradictory”.

      http://www.owen.org/blog/414

  4. Perhaps it sounds contradictory Yusuf. I don’t consider myself as fanatically Monarchist but neither do I despise the monarchy. I certainly don’t admire many other countries form of governments. The UK is not perfect but compared to many countries in the world the UK is doing well for itself. Having had experience of lobbying in the UK I find that I can express my views without fear. Set up a business without giving bribes to local politicians etc etc.
    You give an impressive list of statistics which are off-course true, but none of us have truly calculated the immense benefits of the tourism that Royal estates bring to the UK. I happen to believe that they also influence many business deals with other countries.
    In the final analysis I understand we don’t live in an ideal world, but there are few countries in the world that I personally prefer over the UK. It has the stability that many countries aspire to but seldom reach. After everything is said and done the British have continued to support this form of government for centuries.
    We can off-course have differences of opinions, and I respect that. It would be a boring world if we all agreed on everything.

  5. Great to read opinions from both sides of the argument and both with strong and valid points, change is difficult and that, I believe, is the reason why we hold onto the monarchy not the fact that she provides income or status for the UK.
    The royal family get back much more then they put in individually and collectively.
    There is a better way it’s just having the strength and will.

    • Well she is there as a speechless puppet, just as a president is in many countries, whilst their PM’s just do what they like and like tell the Queen to sign this and that. Not that they need her to sign. So all bullshit. Question is. Do we need her? For me No as their are so many Royal estates and staff, whereas a president low key not like the US are cheaper.