So, full disclosure as always, I'm a royalist. I know, it's mad. I've tried being a republican! I've gone through my political beliefs and found there is no sensible reason for me to be a royalist. I've told myself this in the sternest of words. But I just can't help myself. I have an irrational loyalty to Her Majesty. This reluctant royalism does mean I'm very sympathetic to republicans. I agree with you on the political, constitutional and democratic arguments. You win.
However after the (wonderful) news of Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton yesterday I saw so much stupid on Twitter that I feel compelled to correct some extremely loose understandings of this country's constitutional arrangements with regards to the Royal family's finances.
Don't think of this as some royalist argument in favour of keeping the Royal family, it's not. This is simply a post to put some facts straight. After you've read this, you can have no excuse for continuing to spread these lies.
Why are we paying for an over the top Royal wedding during this time of austerity?
Simple answer: we're not. As this article states (although ignore the bit at the end it's very misleading and I'll show why later), it's likely this money will come from the Civil List, Her Majesty's "reserve fund" (savings from previous Civil List payments) and/or Her Majesty's personal wealth. After the 1990s media disasters, the Palace has learnt it's lessons. It is unlikely to ask the Commons to approve any further spending during an austerity drive, as it has from time to time in the past.
What if it does and doesn't the Civil List get paid from our tax money? Why are we propping up these rich, unelected toffs??
This is a false presumption. I know, it's commonly said the Royal family "cost" every person in the country 50p (or more precisely now, 69p). This is not true. Certainly the "costs" that the Government pays are about £40 million. These come from grants for maintenance and from the Civil List. However, these costs don't come from our taxes! When George III ascended to the throne, it was decided that, in return for surrendering the Crown Estates to the Government, the Government would pay his personal living expenses through the Civil List. The profits the Government makes far exceed the amounts given in grants, through the Civil List and through security costs. So the Royal family is actually a profitable venture for us and they can, on the accession of a new monarch, change those arrangements. So it might be best we keep them on side during this age of cuts!
But hasn't the Civil List been stopped?
Yes. To make the historic arrangement more explicit, the Government will, from 2013,no longer be paying the Civil List or grants but instead pay a yearly one-off payment called the Sovereign Support Grant specifically from the profits of the Crown Estate. In the meantime, the Royal finances have been reduced greatly.
So. Please stop carping on about the costs of the monarchy. If you want to get rid of them, not only will we have to pay the costs of a President but we'd also lose our profits from the Crown Estate. We'd be looking at a couple of hundred million pounds lost to the Treasury. So remember that and stick to making sensible democratic arguments against the monarchy. Financial arguments make you look ridiculous.
No more "Stop the wedding, build a hospital instead" type tweets please. Deal?
If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist