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Can anyone argue that there is nothing more British than Queen Elizabeth II or her main residence, Buckingham Palace? Both sell the UK overseas to our friends and neighbours and act as magnets for overseas and local tourists. But behind the beautiful and imposing façade, Buckingham Palace is falling apart. Ten months ago the British Government announced that the palace was in dire need of work. The cost of which, a staggering £370 million, was to be paid for by the taxpayer over the next ten years. In a time of crippling austerity in Britain with public sector pay freezes and a crumbling NHS this has led to countless organisations, including several left wing political parties asking, why does the Queen get so much money?
British Republicans make up around 22% of the population and have always asked why we as a nation pay for a head of state none of us elected, none of us chose and who seems to do little for the nation she represents.
While I, as a monarchist, take exception to the idea that the Queen does nothing but lounge around all day in her 700 room palace, drinking gin and playing with the corgis, I have always wanted to know how much do we pay for the queen?
Well according to recent statistics the Queen costs the nation £40 million per year. That’s only 65p per person in the UK. In contrast president Obama’s security alone cost the US taxpayer $4.30 per year or £3.32 in 2016. When looked at like this the Queen may seem like a bargain. But there is a bit more to the story than just these figures.
The £40 million the Queen receives from the government comes from the civil list. This was formed as part of an agreement between Parliament and King George III. He owned large tracts of land in the UK but the profits from that land weren’t covering his expenses and the crown was incurring large sums of debt. So then King decided to do a deal with Parliament. From then on the profits from these lands would go to the state and Parliament would pay a fixed term sum to the crown while at the same time wipe off the Kings debt. In the present day the profits from this land come to £200 million. As a result the UK government every year actually makes a profit of £160 million from the Queen. When this is broken down for the average UK taxpayer it comes to a tax deduction of £2.60. So instead of being out of pocket by 65p British taxpayers are actually £2.60 better off because of the Queen. This means you can go into Costa Coffee once a year and have a free cup of tea on the queen and still have enough left over for half a cookie.
But it doesn’t stop there. If you thought that this was a good deal it is not the half of it. The Royal Family is also the source of a huge income from tourism. This number is harder to calculate than the £200 million in revenue and sure, some tourists who come to the UK don’t just come to see the Queen or her London pad. In 2016, 12 million tourists came to the UK spending an estimated £7 billion of which 11.5 million were in London clogging up the tube, refusing to stand on the right on escalators and spent most of their free time annoying the palace guards. Sadly this £7 billion isn’t deducted from our taxes. If it were the average UK citizen would be £112.90 better off. That’s 68 cups of tea!
So we’re better off and the Queen gets to live in her fancy house. So why are so many people getting irate about this, saying I’d rather spend the money on the NHS? It probably comes down to the fact that the Queen still holds some minor powers that people have a problem with. The right to dissolve Parliament whenever she wants and the right to declare war. The armed forces swear loyalty to her not the Prime Minister and the government serves at her will. But these powers have never been abused and this little old lady still has the ability to pull the country together when we are embattled and divided.
And for those of you who are still thinking, “She pays £200 million but the refurbishment will cost £370 million, why should I pay for the £160 million”, remember this. Here is a woman who has served our nation for 65 years. Who has devoted herself to this country. And who pays 85% tax without complaining. Personally I see no problem with paying the £160 million to preserve not just her home but one of our nation’s treasures. Especially when the bill to refurbish parliament is going to cost us £4 billion. When looked at it like this the palace refurbishment is a bargain. And while you think over these figures I’m goanna go get my free cuppa.