Note: All Opinions Are My Own
This weekend in the United Kingdom, a king will be crowned. The coronation of Charles III will mark the first time in living memory that billions of people around the world will witness the public recognition of the legitimacy of a British head of state. Naturally then, this weekend will also represent an unprecedented level of scrutiny of the institution of monarchy more generally. Here, I intend to explain some common arguments around the British royal family, explain my own views on the subject, and hopefully convince you, dear reader, to think critically about the political system in the UK.
Before I proceed, I want to be absolutely crystal clear that I would not for a second suggest that someone who holds any of the beliefs laid out in this essay wrong, nor is that what I intend to do herein; I simply hope to present some logically backed arguments for consideration, and to stimulate healthy, considered discussion.
The first point I take issue with is that to many people across these isles, the Windsor family are the anthropomorphic embodiment of traditional British values. Furthermore, broadly speaking those same people are only too happy to call the head of the royal family their rightful head of state. This, I hope to persuade you, is a fallacy. On the first point of the Windsors representing British values, I would encourage you to reflect upon how many people in this country actually live as they do. The royal family are uniquely privileged, incomprehensibly wealthy, and despite what many people mistakenly believe, incredibly powerful. With this understanding established, I would then reflect on how they came to be in such an esteemed position. What attributes do the royal family possess which qualify them above all others to rule autocratically? How, indeed, did this family acquire such irreplicable traits? Well my confident view is that they aren’t unique in their ability to rule, nor do they possess any of the aforementioned traits. As far as I can discern, the Windsor family were simply in the right place at the right time several hundred years ago to seize power, and have firmly grasped onto it ever since. Hardly a basis for ultimate unquestioned power, wouldn’t you agree?
With a brief evaluation of the royal family’s qualifications set out, I would now like to turn to a more moral review of monarchy. One major point I take issue with is the royals’ incessant requirement of being referred to as “your royal highness”. This expression is, if you consider it, entirely relative. Who exactly do these people deem themselves to be higher than? I think the answer to this question is, quite uncontroversially, everyone. This self-established elite group of our fellow homo sapiens have seemingly without the input of any of those they deem “lower” than them decided amongst themselves that they are divinely superior. “Divinely”, incidentally, because if challenged on their superiority, the response is invariably that their position has been handed down from the heavens by a god who, alas, finds themself inflicted by the unfortunate hindrance of being entirely fictional. Religious or otherwise, nonetheless, I do hope that you understand the issues I have with the unreasonable requirements thrust nonconsensually upon us, their “subjects”, by these fellow human beings - our equals.
My final broad criticism of the British monarchy is a financial one. According to most media outlets, this weekend’s coronation ceremony will cost approximately £150m to the UK taxpayer, which during an unprecedented increase in the cost of living worldwide is, for me, a very difficult fact to comprehend. This is confounded by the fact that Charles III avoided paying significantly more than this amount in inheritance tax when his mother Elizabeth II died last year, entirely due to his position as “sovereign”. Additionally to this special expense, the British monarch receives an annual “sovereign grant” from the taxpayer, which in the financial year 2021-22 was worth £86.3m. The most common rebuttal to this is that the royal family bring in “far more” than they ever cost due to the tourism revenue they generate. However, this logic is flawed. As many people as do now would visit the royal residences and the UK more broadly each year whether the royal family existed or not. This country has a rich and fascinating history which is not at all predicated on the existence of an autocratic, unethical, immoral, and corrupt monarchy. Overall, I’d call this financial treatment unjustifiable at best, and grossly abusive to the British taxpayer at worst, especially when you consider that Charles III is among the wealthiest individuals on the planet, and is the single biggest landowner on the planet. Did I mention, by the way, that the British monarch doesn’t have to pay any tax at all? Oh, and also that they are completely exempt from adhering to the laws which govern the rest of them, giving them total immunity from justice?
To end this piece, I would like to reinforce that the United Kingdom is a great country which values equality, integrity, morality, and democracy, among countless other critical values. These values - particularly democracy - however, cannot be upheld to their fullest so long as a hereditary monarchy exists here. We, the British people, are ready for a republic, and the monarchy should prepare itself for condemnation to the only place it rightfully belongs: history.