May 19 — the 139th day of the year (140th for leap years), 226 days left on the calendar, a Taurus birth date for individuals such as Malcolm X and Andre the Giant. It also happens to be the date of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding, raising the question: why should we care? The simple answer? We shouldn’t.
The Declaration of Independence was signed in July 1776 —242 years ago — as Americans declared their independence from the oppression of the British monarch. After winning a hard-fought revolution, America established itself as a free nation and a democracy. The idea that it would celebrate the affairs of the British monarchy is ludicrous, even if said monarchy is limited and constitutional.
As a constitutional monarchy, the Sovereign is the Head of State, but the ability to make and pass legislation falls upon an elected Parliament official. With all respect to England’s rich history, the current monarchy is nothing more than a collection of outrageously rich individuals who are inexplicably worshipped by a public who helps to fuel their lifestyle. (Meanwhile, we just have the Kardashians.)
Ready for some stats? Business Insider estimates that it costs roughly 368 million U.S. dollars a year to run the British monarchy. The January 2017 article states that while a portion of the funds come from Queen Elizabeth’s private investments, a cool 48 million in 2016 came from the British government. Aren’t you proud to be an American?
The article states that despite not having the power to affect legislation, the Queen receives the Sovereign Grant each year, which the BBC credits with coming from the treasury and being funded by taxpayers. This covers the family’s palace upkeep, travel, utilities and royal employee payroll. Meanwhile the Queen’s “Privy Purse” of private income comes from an enormous portfolio known as the Duchy of Lancaster that her family claimed thousands of years ago. These funds cover costs such as royal ceremonies and security. And through landownership and estates, the Queen has several hundred million dollars of personal funds to fall back on should the taxpayers ever get stingy.
Such funds make events such as Harry and Meghan’s outrageously priced wedding possible. Though The Guardian reports that roughly 1 in every 200 — an estimated 300,000 — people in Britain a year are homeless or inadequately sheltered, at least the wedding made for some buzz-worthy television that allowed the impoverished the chance to glimpse the spending of enough funds that could have, oh I don’t know, went towards national food, shelter, medication, education or a number of other less-exciting causes.
Graham Smith stated his argument for rejecting the monarchy in spectacular fashion in an article for CNN back in 2012, in wake of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s equally extravagant and buzzed-about matrimony.
“Our cause is simple: it’s about democratic reform and a rejection of inherited power and privilege,” the article reads. “The case for Britain becoming a republic is threefold: the monarchy is wrong in principle, in practice and it is wrong politically.”
Continuing his statement, Smith writes, “We’re supposed to be a democratic society, which means we should cherish and value democratic values, such as equality of citizenship, freedom to participate in government, accountability and transparency. In a democratic society there is no room for a head of state who is put there for life and by birth. A hereditary monarch has no place in a society that believes ‘we the people’ should be in charge. The principled objection is unanswerable.”
Let’s circle back to the article’s catalyst. The wedding itself is not the issue — rather it is a byproduct of a far larger problem. With the television viewing drawing in a staggering number of views, the screening of the royal affair proves to be a popular way to live out a fantasy on a lazy Saturday. There is nothing inherently wrong with this.
But the bigger picture is this: the monarch shouldn’t be worshipped. Such outrageous funds shouldn’t be gifted to those fortunate enough to be born into a “royal” bloodline that was earned with blood. Respect and attention should be paid toward elected officials, while taxpayers’ dollars should fuel causes that serve the betterment of the nation. To be living in such advanced and enlightened times and still be worshiping and funding a failed and dated system is simply bollocks.
Emma Polini is the managing editor of the Van Alstyne Leader, Anna-Melissa Tribune and Prosper Press. What do you want in your paper? Email her at email@example.com to let her know.