This month has seen two damning headline stories for the Royal family. The first story concerned the Queen’s offshore investment, as revealed in the Paradise Papers, and the second detailed Prince Charles’ lobbying on political interests. In light of these recent revelations, this article makes the case for the abolishment of the Monarchy. The argument is separated into three points: the principled point, the political point and the economic point.
The principled point
The principled point against the Monarchy is the most compelling: it is out of line with progressive and liberal values to retain an unelected Head of State, appointed by virtue of birth status. Additionally, the excessive wealth of the Royals is – at its mildest – distasteful. Should we really accept a state of affairs where the Queen is preaching about austerity in the House of Commons, whilst draped in an excess of jewels? Is it fair that whilst there are cuts for the public sector, the Royal family get a pay rise of millions of pounds?
Moreover, issue can be taken with the idea that the Crown should be retained as it is “traditional” and represents the country. Firstly, it is no argument to retain something because it is “traditional”, without further exploring the merits of this tradition. Secondly, on the point about the symbolic significance of the Royals, we should think deeper about what the Crown represents. The Royal honours take the titles of, for instance, “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” or “Commander of the Order of the British Empire”. Britain’s history of colonialism oversaw atrocities such as massacring and the establishment of concentration camps; the country’s honours system should not be harking back to the Empire.
The political point
Regarding the constitutional role of the Monarch, it is often said that the Queen’s “political neutrality” undermines any fear of the Crown being involved in the political process. However, it is untrue to say that the Crown has no influence on the legislative process. The recent headlines, as already referred to, demonstrate the point. At the beginning of November it was reported that Prince Charles campaigned to alter climate-change agreements in a way that would benefit a Bermuda company in which his estate had invested. The claim of the Royals’ political neutrality is thus hard to maintain.
The economic point
Finally, supporters of the Royal family argue that the Monarchy is economically beneficial for the country because of the tourism that it brings in. However, such supporters presuppose that all of this tourism would be lost if the Monarchy was abolished. This is difficult to believe – indeed, last year around 7.4 million people visited Le Louvre (where the French monarchy used to reside) and this site continues to be one of the most famous in the world.