A campaign called ‘Clean for The Queen’ has been set up, calling on people to pick up litter and tidy the streets before the Queen’s 90th birthday, officially celebrated in June. While I am not against volunteers helping to make the streets tidier for all, asking people to do it for the Queen is as patronising and deferential as it gets!
The Queen has been funded through the Sovereign Grant since 2011, is pegged at 15% of the profits from the Crown Estate and currently stands at £42.8 million for the year (although the pressure group Republic, which campaigns for a democratic alternative to the monarchy and publishes an annual report on the true cost, believes it to be over £300 million per year). This cannot legally be less than the previous year.
At a time of sweeping public cuts, when some councils have been forced to cut street cleaning budgets up to 80% and in a time where there is open vilification of benefit claimants and migrants, Britain’s most expensive benefit claimant has had a 38% increase since 2011. The current Tory government believes that she deserves our upmost respect and gratitude, but I don’t think so. No other area of the public sector is funded this way and there is no legitimate reason for this funding structure.
As a Republican (not the American kind I hastily add), I believe that Britain should have a directly elected Head of State who is accountable to the people and whose political views are known. The secrecy surrounding the monarchy is astonishing and cannot be justified in the 21st century, in what is supposed to be a functioning democracy. This would allow Buckingham Palace, and the other estates, to be opened up for tours and events which would help generate the income for their upkeep; they’re currently in a woeful condition but the tax payer shouldn’t write a blank check for their repairs.
As the Queen approaches her 90th birthday, she should thank the British taxpayer for the life of extreme privilege she has had and the privilege her family will continue to have when she’s no longer around. If you decide to volunteer to clean up litter, do so for yourselves and the people in your community, not for a woman who wears a diamond encrusted hat and lives in a palace behind armed police and a large wall.
*For full disclosure, I am a member of the pressure group Republic
Main image from Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Flickr