Ken Loach’s film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ gives us, and it appears as clips are sub-titled on FaceBook others, an insight to life in this country in the same way as his ‘Cathy Come Home’ BBC production did all those years ago. But will his latest film have the same impact on society as his earlier one did. Recently we published an article about the demands of Prince Andrew for the ever put upon public to fund the lifestyle of his family. This is a family of immense wealth. That article was read by over 20,000 people directly from this site in less than 24 hours and received a large number of comments both directly on this site and on the various FaceBook pages that carried it. Although there were many supporting the theme of the article a reasonable number defended the royals for their attitude to their perceived rights and privileges. The royal family is by far undoubtable not the richest family in this country despite their total wealth being over a billion pounds. However, they are the only ones that received money from the taxpayers in order to fund their luxurious life style. So let’s look at the ‘social security’ payments the royals get and try to understand why it is that a billionaire family is deemed to deserve so much whilst so many members of the British public are happy to see and even support others living in the same country in the way portrayed in Ken Loach’s film
The Queen’s total income for 2015-16 was £54m, comprising £40.1m from the taxpayer and £13.9m generated from property rental and charges for using royal buildings and facilities for functions. It should be remembered that the majority of those buildings including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are not owned by the Royal family but are given, with others, for rent free occupation. And now we unpaid landlords face a constantly increasing repair bill that has now surpassed £150 million. Perhaps this could be a solution to that one. Now the argument is often put forward that the royals own the Crown Estates. in 1760, George III surrendered control over the Estate’s revenues to the treasury, thus relieving him of the responsibility of personally paying for the costs of the civil service, defence costs, the national debt, and his own personal debts. So basically he went bankrupt but unlike ‘ordinary citizens’ he and his dependants continue to profit hugely from what they no longer own. Not bad if you can pull it off.
Very few countries in the modern world now have an unelected Head of State. One that still has however is Denmark. However it is not just how they have used the vast wealth of North Sea oil for the good of the nation rather than give it out in huge tax reductions for the rich that separates Denmark’s philosophy from that of the UK. Buckingham palace has published its annual finance report for 2016 and campaign group Republic has called on MPs to follow the Danish example and cut all minor royals from public funding. Public funding for little known royals such as Princess Alexandra and Duchess of Kent has been called a ‘scandal’. Last month the Danish government said it would cut public funding for all minor royals, saying taxpayers were facing spiralling costs. Republic calls for an end to the monarchy but has said a significant cut in public subsidy would be a ‘step in the right direction’.
Graham Smith, Republic’s CEO, said today: “We do not owe the extended Windsor family a living. It is a scandal that the Queen allows her family to profit from their relationship with her. Why are we spending millions of pounds on Katherine Worsley or Marie von Reibnitz when public services are being squeezed and cut? Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and their families should also be told to pay their own way. We should immediately end state funding for their security, accommodation, travel and all other expenses. Denmark has helped lead the way, we should follow their example. Of course we need wider cuts, while the monarchy lasts only the monarch should be funded. But this is a good step in the right direction. The public are with us on this. A poll carried out last year shows a clear majority wanting minor royals to lose their public funding.”
The total annual cost of the monarchy is estimated to be £334m, not the £40m plus claimed by the palace. That includes the Sovereign Grant which is paid directly by the taxpayer as well as the estimated £100m security bill. Even travelling around costs the tax payer vast amounts. Figures released by Buckingham Palace showed that the most expensive journey by a member of the Royal family last year was the Prince of Wales’s visit to the Balkans in March with the Duchess of Cornwall by charter flight, which cost £94,409. The Prince also took a charter flight to Turkey to attend the battle of Gallipoli centenary, which cost £74,500. So why chartered flights, well if you yourself aren’t paying for it why not. The Prince of Wales’s income (benefits) rose by 3.1 per cent as his aides admitted the effects of Brexit could affect his Duchy of Cornwall income in future years. So it’s rises for the haves and cuts for the poor as their benefits are cut. Interestingly despite the fact that it must be obvious that the royals have a spare bedroom or two they are exempt from the Spare Room Tax the Tories love so much.
So we have an extremely wealthy family sitting in a position of privilege and entitlement. But the argument goes we have a Royal family with over a thousand years of glorious history. Well firstly they were not put there by God but by their conniving, brutal and often murderous forefathers. We cannot of course put the sins of the father on to the son but let’s be clear of just how ‘great’ this families history is. Reflect for a moment on how you would be viewed if your forefathers had committed just a small proportion of the murderous deaths, wars and back-stabbings those people did to gain power for themselves. This billionaire family are now receiving vast amounts of ‘handouts’ from the British taxpayers and a good proportion of those same taxpayers feel they are entitled to it whilst enthusiastically supporting the stories published in our right-wing press advocating the taking away or reducing any financial lifeline of some of the poorest in our society. It’s a funny old world isn’t it. Below is a reprint of what makes up the Royal Finances. This is a list of facts rather than the usual spin by establishment mouthpieces like the BBC and right-wing press.
Royal funding gets very confusing thanks to spin and claims by the royals and their supporters. Here are a few facts to remember:
- The figures published by the palace relate to the spending of the Sovereign Grant, which replaced the Civil List five years ago.
- The grant is paid to the royals directly from the Treasury – it is funded entirely by the taxpayer.
- The level of the grant is calculated by a formula that is pegged to the income of the Crown Estate. The Crown Estate does not pay the grant. The deal struck between the government and palace means the
grant can never fall below the level it was at the previous year – but it can keep rising regardless of need.
- The Crown Estate is a publicly owned and managed property portfolio. It doesn’t belong to the royal family and – crucially – if the monarchy were abolished it would still be publicly owned.
- The Sovereign Grant has risen 18% since 2011, to £42.8m – which represents a fraction of the total annual cost of the royals.
- A more accurate annual cost of the monarchy is £334m. That includes many hidden costs such as security, costs met by local councils, unpaid taxes and revenue from the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster.#
- With 18 so-called working royals, each royal costs an average of £18.5m a year. This includes the likes of Princess Alexandra and the Duchess of Kent, who most people wouldn’t recognise and haven’t heard of. Although not officially counted as working royals Prince Andrew’s daughters Eugenie and Beatrice also bill the taxpayer for travel, accommodation and security
- It is wrong to claim the monarchy costs just a few pence per person. That claim, usually quoted as 56p each, is spin made up by Buckingham Palace. The figure divides the official cost by every person in the country. More importantly no other public spending is dismissed in this way. £334m – or even £42m – is a lot of money. The higher figure would pay for 15,000 new nurses or police officers.
- It is wrong to claim the monarchy is good for the British economy. Despite some spurious reports to the contrary there is no evidence to support claims about tourism or trade. Tourists would continue to flock to Britain if there was no monarchy and our history, heritage and palaces would still be there for people to visit.