Wednesday, 31 March 2010

TIME TO START MAKING CHANGES IN THE ROYAL FAMILY


The funding of the royal family, which raises its ugly head once every ten years, will be a thorn in the side of whoever is the next Prime Minister. Under the 10-year settlement, agreed between the palace and Mrs Thatcher, the Civil List will have to be renegotiated by the end of this year.

Like everyone else, the Queen wants more money, and like everyone else, except MPs and bankers, she will struggle to get it. And in any case before there is more money paid out to the royals it is important that we look at how they live in the changing world of recession-torn Britain.

In fairness to the Queen, during the 1990’s her accountants saved money from the Civil List to create a contingency fund, however, as time has gone on she has had to draw on that fund. By next year it will be gone. It’s also reasonable to remember that a lot of the Civil List goes to pay salaries and other employment costs of junior staff.

However, there are, within the current system, some startling wastes of money. While the Queen wants more public money to pay for the upkeep of her crumbling palaces she is allowing minor royals and courtiers to live in rent-free accommodation.

This blog believes that an independent Scotland should be a republic. It also accepts that at the moment we live in the United Kingdom, and that the Queen is head of state, but it thinks that it is high time that we brought royalty into the 21st century.

There are five palaces in London and a further one in Edinburgh. We allow Charles, Anne, Andrew, Edward, Kent, Gloucester, Alexandra, Michael, Beatrice, William and Harry....and their wives/husbands to live more of less free of charge. Additionally we provide free accommodation for a raft of senior courtiers, like the Keeper of the Queen’s Pictures and the Mistress of the Robes.

Enough!

We can’t afford all this. You don’t have to be republican to want value for money. The Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Belgian,
Luxembourg and Spanish royal families don’t live like this and don’t cost this kind of money.

Providing accommodation for, and extending security to, junior members of the family, as they try to live “normal” lives and undertake no royal duties, is ridiculous. Paying out money for the upkeep of six crumbling palaces, and providing day and night security for the whole family is now beyond our means. It simply must be slimmed down.

Unlike some republicans I can see that some royals do valuable work. Sometimes simply by being royal they can coax rich snobs to part with their money for a good cause, which without royal intervnetion would not happen. Some are genuinely very hard working, making a big difference to their chosen charities.

So let them work and liv
e in Buckingham Palace, which is big enough for all of them to have apartments for which they could pay rent. And let’s pay them a reasonable salary based on the amount of work they do. Everyone else has productivity targets, why not them?

If they don’t care for that they could get a job outside of royal duties and buy their own house. What’s wrong with that? They are no different from you and me and we manage to do it. We no longer believe that they have blue blood and are a different species.

There are likely to be big changes before the next ten-year settlement. Let’s start making the cuts now.


Pictures: State Apartments at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, Beatrice and Eugenie, Holyrood House.

40 comments:

  1. Firstly lets knock on the head all those airy fairy notions that royalist trot out about them being value for money, a tourist attraction, bringing in more than they cost etc. No they don’t. Not a single person actually comes to the UK, never mind Scotland, to see the Queen and her family in person. In actual fact even people who live here don’t know when they will make an appearance for security reasons. People come to see the trappings of monarchy as part, and only part, of the history of these nations. Such as the crown jewels, the Tower of London etc etc. These things would still be there without the need for a £40 million a year (plus security) royal family. People still trek to Versailles in their millions despite the fact that the French cut off Louis XVIs head long ago. And how many people go to Washington DC to see the White House and the US Capitol building and the trappings of a republic, millions?

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  2. Yes, I agree. With a very few exceptions, like Trooping the Colour or Opening of Parliament, the Queens visits are regional, or to a specific place in London.

    Tourists don't go to Bradford or Motherwell to see her there, and if she is visiting the Tate or the Stock Exchange it's all secret until she's inside the building...

    In any case, it certainly doesn't do Scotland any good and that's what I care about more than anything else.

    I'm not asking England to give up their Queen, I'm just saying that in a world where OAPs get a £1.75 a week rise in their pensions only to have it swallowed up by tax increases, it is time that we didn't spend £2 million doing up apartments in St James's Palace for a princess who never does public a engagement....

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  3. Let Engurland keep their queen but let Scotland free itself of this childish anachronistic nonsense. I remember as a kid being marched from school to a new building in the town centre the "Queen Mother" was opening. All the kids from every school were lined up along the route and given wee union jacks and told to wave and cheer as she drove past in her Rolls Royce.

    We should have been given stones and told when to start throwing.

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  4. Fer bein' a monarchy fer the better pairt o' the past 1160 years, Scotland's aye had a republican wink in her een. We've never subscribed tae this divine right tosh that the English enjoy. we didnae even always bother wi' the hereditary principle. The King, or Queen, cos we huv tae mind Mary, only ruled wi' the consent o' the nobles. Mind aw that bother when Charlie tried tae gie us a new prayer book an' we hud tae have a war tae stop him. Ah'm no sayin' ah wid throw ma stool at Elizabeth if she walked by, ah'm jist giein' her fair warnin'.

    Naw, if this is the 21st century like they say it is, then there should be nae hereditary powers period. An' if the royals are deprived o' thae powers, then there's nae mair reason fer us ta upkeep them.

    Ah wid gie the Queen Sandringham an' Balmoral as hers tae keep. (Ah know some folk'll say she owns them awready, but it's only oor money that George an' Victoria used tae build them in the first place.) We could open Windsor, Buck Hoose an' Holyroodhoose aw' year roon' an get mair money. The faimly wid be awright, Anne could get a job wi' horses, mibbe workin' in Ladbrokes shop, an' Beatrice could get a job oan the Heat magazine.

    Ah'll tell ye wan thing fer a start tho, we hud better get independence afore we get a republic. Ye know that every President o' Britain wid be English. We wid huv eedjits like Jonathon Ross or Boris Johnston you wait an' see.

    Sorry Munguin, takin' nuthin' awa' fae yer republican vision, it's independence first fer me.

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  5. Agreed Sophia.The english will never be parted from their beloved Royals, until the Scots show them the way...

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  6. Tris
    Serves you right if Her majesty ask you to leave her Kingdom..and you have to go of to France and become a Frenchman......Yuk!

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  7. Why can't everyone just leave the royals alone?

    They are very much value for money, the amount they have had to spend has dramatically fallen since the days of royal yaught Britannia, and the 1960s. Windsor [owned by the Govt incidently] is in a state of disrepair in parts. It is absolutely shocking that when we should all be in this together than some might [accidently] seek to utilise our economic and constitutional crises to further a republican agenda.

    God save the Queen. The best value for money since Cromwell!

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  8. conan he will have to be a Hun(asthey love hunting and caressing their big Handgun)

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  9. Ah'll tell ye whit republicanisms got gaun fer it Dean. Ye want yer country tae get the best oot o' its weans right? But how can ye truly get the best oot o' them when leadin' their very ain country is denied them, jist cos their mother hud tae go oot an' work fer her livin'?

    Ony American can aspire tae be President. Nae Scot can aspire tae be queen.

    There's nuthin' mair guaranteed tae get ma goat than a shut door.

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  10. Dean: I would happily leave them alone except for the fact that they cost us £40 million per annum and that does not include security. Oh and also they are unelected and a bastion of nepotistic privilege who by their very nature are considered to be better than normal.

    They also live in five palaces at our expense while there are people freezing, starving and homeless on our streets. That is not good value for money as far as I am concerned. I’m sorry Dean but this is after all a republican blog so you cannot blame us for forwarding a republican agenda from time to time now can you?

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  11. there are people freezing, starving and homeless on our streets...

    AND ALL ALEX CAN DO IS TAKE A £60000 ILLEGAL PAYOFF FROM WESTMONSTER........

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  12. Nikos

    Can you not slope off back to your cell?

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  13. scunnert: I understand that behind the professional smile that old lady was one nasty piece of work when she didn't get her way...

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  14. Tris - she was a belligerent drunk who liked to gamble with other folks money - the taxpayers!

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  15. Independence first here too, Sophia. The question of who is at the top is a small one, and a matter of principle only. We must have more democracy.

    But if we hang on to this lot they must be slimmed down. The older ones who no longer do anything have to be pensioned off like the rest of us, and live in reduced means.

    I have to laugh when people complain that the EU is undemocratic... not that I disagree, but with an hereditary head of state, a house of parliament that is appointed or hereditary and a house that is elected by a first past the post system... where more than half the seats never change hands and in some cases are hereditary too.... we can hardly talk. Furthermore if it suits a prime minister he can simply appoint people to the House of Lords and give them government portfolios, even if they have just been rejected by the people (Lynda Chalker!) Democracy in the UK.... don’t make me laugh.

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  16. Well Conan, after independence comes the opportunity for us to have a few referenda.... that one being at the top of the list, along with do we wish to stay in Europe....

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  17. Franchement Niko, ça m’est égal. Je peux vivre content et heureux soit en France, soit en Ecosse.

    Lorsque j’y pense, je croix que je préférerais la France où il fait si beau l’été, en particulier au sud où même l’hiver il fait doux.

    C’et un beau pays et au moins le président de la république est élu !

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  18. Dean,

    I think I gave them their place in my article. I respect your view on the royals of course, but I can't pretend for a second that I understand it. They are selfish, self important and past thier sell by date, and in my humble opinion, way too expensive for a broke country.

    I don't believe that they are huge tourist magnets, but if they are, how embarrassing is that? They are like acts on a stage or in a circus ring.... People come to marvel at the people who are of a different species....

    Sorry. I think it may be OK for London, but it's pout of place here.

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  19. Niko. It's not illegal for a starter. Otherwise he wouldn't get it. He will be using it to pay redundancy money to his staff, I imagine.

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  20. Lupus incomitatus: Welcome to Munguin's Republic. Nice to see you here...

    Niko is like a Jack in the Box with a defective spring sometimes.... but he's OK if you take him the right way.... namely by the scruff of the neck.... eh Niko. He misses the Spooky one!

    ....I see from your name that you aren't a joiner (as in joining things, as opposed to carpenter), but I hope you'll come back, if only to slap Niko down when he gets troubleson. :¬))

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  21. Scunnert: It seems you sum her up reasonably well.... Mind you, you have to say she could fairly pack away the booze...

    That would be an asset if she was out on the town in Dundee on a Saturday..... No wimps allowed!

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  22. Wolfy

    Its a hard life in me cell but someone has to do it


    http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/files/2009/02/img063.jpg

    Tris

    how many Gauloises do you want?

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  23. Niko: You look really good in that pic. The frock suits you...

    ....and you know I don't smoke since my poor old lung collapsed and I was tortured in the local....erm.....eh.... hospital.

    But, I'll have a nice wee Calvados from Normandy... if you're buying.

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  24. "EU is undemocratic"

    Yes Tris I hear that one from the eurosceptic 'little englanders' on the right on my Party all the time. It is a standard line, one which I too cannot help laughing at [internally, doing it to their face would be rude].

    The EU is in the finest traditions of UK style indirect democracy, and as a reader [and fan, in certain regards] of Bernard Shaw and his focus on capacity over populist governance; I happen to like the functionalism of EU institutions.

    However they could do with a little more scrutiny anyone think? I mean the whole auditors situation is simply embarrassing from an avowed pro-EU perspective.

    Dean

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  25. I agree that it is a nonsense that the books don't balance, and I too was shocked when I heard that they had never been signed off.... until I heard that neither had the books of the Home Office in London..

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  26. Can't they all go to Madame Tussauds permanently that will bring in income for a modest expenditure and they can be viewed like the dinasaurs they are. Problem solved now Westminster next.

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  27. We need to do something about that House of Lords CynicalHighhlander. A more useless waste of money it would be hard to find, and how come we need around 900 of them and teh USA can manage with only 100.... sheesh......

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  28. Tris....great pictures. The Queen has a nice house, if somewhat overdecorated. :-)

    Seriously, what you say makes sense. But if you no longer use the palaces as royal residences, what would you do with them? They are world cultural and historical treasures. They must be maintained. Surely even the most passionate republican would not tear them down or let them sink into decay. They can't be dumped on the real estate market. Maybe they could become museums, with an endowment and public tour fees paying for maintenance and upkeep.

    Seems to me I read once that Balmoral is privately owned by the House of Windsor....and that when George V died, it passed in his will to David, Prince of Wales. But his abdication as Edward VIII did not change the fact that he personally owned Balmoral. So George VI had to actually buy it from him so that it could remain a residence for the reigning monarch.

    Seems to me that I also read that the civil list has its origin with George III's surrender of the revenues of the Crown Estate to Parliament....and that, over the years, Parliament has gotten a much better financial deal from that than the royal family did.

    So I wonder if Parliament would be willing to surrender the Crown Estate revenues back to the royals in return for no more civil list outlays?

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  29. Yes Danny... I was going to have my front room done out like that but when we put the chandelier up the roof fell in..... ho hum.

    You’re right. Balmoral (where the Queen takes her summer holidays) is a privately owned residence as is Sandringham (where she spends Easter). That’s why I made no mention of them.

    The palaces I refer to are Buckingham, Kensington, St James’s, Holyrood (in Edinburgh), and Clarence House where The Duke of Rothsay and Mrs Parker Bowles live, and Windsor Castle, where the state dinners are held.

    I know that they are palaces. I think that St James would probably easily become a museum. I imagine that Buckingham would be used for those that want to work for the firm to live in (It has 300+ rooms, and there are only about 20-25 of them. That gives them 12-15 rooms per person. I’ve not got anything like that and I’m still here!!). Windsor Castle could be where they do the banquets and have visiting royalty to stay. Clarence House could be sold off, as could Kensington palace. There’s only so much in the way of museum space a broke little country with starving, freezing pensioners can afford. There are also all manner of little houses on the Windsor estate which could be sold off to pay for the upkeep of the museums. The Palace of Holyrood House could be given to the Scottish government to do with as it sees fit.

    You’re right too that the Civil List was given in return for the Crown Estates money and that that brings in more than what is paid out. Remember the Prince of Wales is also the Duke of Rothsay and the Duke of Cornwall. I think he’s got Earldoms and other things too... I bet he can’t remember them all. He has a vast income from the Duchy of Cornwall. I take your point, but I’d say in response.... where did the Crown get all the lands from in the first place?

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  30. Sorry to hear that your roof couldn't handle that chandelier Tris....LOL.

    I take your point about how the King got the Crown Estates in the first place. I guess that back in the day....WAYYYYY back in the day....the King owned everything. The peasants got to grow some crops, and eat just enough to stay alive to grow even more crops for the King. And the King gave some lands to his cronies the Barons in return for troops when he had a war to fight. Kinda cool being a King in the old days.....what with owning EVERYTHING in the realm. And BUMMER being a peasant.

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  31. You sussed it Danny.... and maybe, at least partly, that's why there's America.... well, not exactly of course because it would have been there anyway, it just wouldn't have been called America... although I can't guess what it would have been called.... Shush Tris

    Now I'm really blethering(talking rubbish)... I think I should go to bed!

    Night all....

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  32. I'm with you on this one Tris. Don't we spend £500,000 plus just 'guarding' Andrew's silly lassies?

    Can't fault anyone's opinion - even Dean's although I disagree with him.

    Night night.

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  33. Holyrood palace should be turned into a vast backpackers hostel to accommodate all those gap year kids i'm gonna take on tours of Scotland.

    On a camping trip near Balmoral, i once sent a postcard to a pal of the "queen mother" (irony). In the pic she had greener teeth than Johnny Rotten. It impressd me that she couldnae be arsed gettin them whitened. However, my uncle S was a gamekeeper at Balmoral and concurs with the notion that she was a bit of a harridan.

    Aller la belle republique!

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  35. LOL@Naldo:

    The complexities of the French verb in the Imperative Mood!

    In their favour it has to be remembered that they bring vast amounts of pleasure to people. There's an old lady I know who once met Princess Alexandra when she was visiting Ninewells Hospital. Alexandra only said a few words to her, but how it cheered the old soul, and how she talked about it.... Can you imagine how cheering that would be in a hospital ward?

    So they are not all bad, and the QM was particularly good at her job. She remembered people's names and a bit about them for long enough to make it look at least, as if she really cared. For some people that made a huge impression.

    So all criticism is mixed with a sneaking admiration. There are still some people who believe in the fairy tale, and for them the royals are still magical. But they are for most outdated and expensive. But the other European royals manage o be les regal and cheaper. Why can’t the Scottish ones?

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  36. LOL @ Jeff.... good luck to you in getting news about work from home here....

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  37. SR... yes that's right, although we have no real knowledge about the costs as they are top secret. I think that figure was based on a journalist’s calculations on probably costs, manpower etc.

    I also heard that when the older one wanted a bit of independence, they had a suite done up for her at St James's Palace, at a cost of £2 million.

    St James's is essentially a council house. I would imagine that as council houses go it is in fairly good nick, no graffiti on the wallpaper, no dubious stains on the floorboards, not a lot of damp in the walls.... but somehow they needed to spend £2 million doing it up so that her royal highness could live there. Why?

    When the QM died and Charlie got Clarence House, again a council house, he also got a one-off payment of £5 million to do it up. Clearly because the previous occupant had left it in a disreputable state? Here’s a man who gets £16 million a year from lands he receives from the state, and who then gets around £12 million to pay for his overseas visits and staffing from the Civil List and when he moves into a palace... he gets another £5 million to do it up, presumably because Mrs Parker-Bowles didn’t much like the fin de siècle decor!

    Are we mad? As I say, I doubt very much that the Europeans would put up with that from their royals.

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  38. "St James's is essentially a council house"

    I think thats a Facebook status right there Tris!

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