At an estimated cost of £202 million a year the British monarchy is the most expensive in Europe and is more than double the cost of the Dutch monarchy. £202.4 million is equivalent to the cost of 9,560 nurses, 8,200 police officers and more than the total annual Ministry of Defence spending on food (Royal Finances, 2012). What we really have to question is, is it worth it? What do we, as British citizens, gain from paying for such an expensive monarchy when the money could be spent on nursing, policing or the Ministry of Defence? Many believe that the monarchy has run its course and is no longer beneficial to our modern day society; whilst others feel that the monarchy is a symbol of Britain and our patriotic pride. Supporters of the monarchy would argue that the monarchy is one of Britain’s key features to its tourism industry, with nearly four million people visiting the palaces last year, supplying many citizens with temporary seasonal jobs to meet their demands (should Britain scrap the monarchy, 2012).
However 2010 online statistics from Visit Britain reveal there are no monarchy related attractions in Britain’s top ten tourist attractions (top 10 English tourist attractions, 2010). This suggests that the British tourism industry could survive without the monarchy and possibly even increase as tourists would be granted full access to Buckingham palace. Currently Buckingham palace is not open to tourists all year round, and when it is the public are only allowed to see a few of the rooms. Therefore if the palace was open all year round, tourist visits could potentially increase. This could generate more revenue and potentially create jobs which may help our country out of the recession (Tourism, 2010). To further support the case that tourism may not be affected, we only have to look at other countries throughout the world.
From the 2011 data found by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, we can see that out of the five most visited countries in the world – which are France, USA, China, Spain and Italy – only Spain has a monarchy (Rosenberg, 2011). For that reason alone we could argue that having no monarchy might not affect our tourism revenue in a negative manner at all, it just further highlights the unnecessary cost of maintaining British monarchy. Without the monarchy in place we would become a republican nation with a president in power. Statistics have revealed that the British monarchy is nearly 112 times more expensive to run than the Irish presidential system and more than twice as expensive as the French semi-presidential system (Royal finances, 2012).
This is perhaps further evidence to illustrate that the monarchy is an unnecessary expense, and we should possibly head towards becoming a republican nation with a president who has earned the right to be there; and not just had the power handed to them through hereditary links. Graham Smith (2010), the chief executive of “Republic”, which campaigns for a democratic alternative to the monarchy believes that the monarchy should be abolished, as hereditary links to the throne are not justifiable. He said in an article online at CNN. “We’re supposed to be a democratic society, 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.” Power is something that should be earned and whoever is in charge should have the right credentials to exercise power.
If power is just handed down to somebody how do we know they are capable of the task in hand? Our current system with a monarchy in place is very out-dated and many other commonwealth countries, for example Australia, are now looking at abolishing the monarchy and becoming a republican nation. The argument here is perhaps it is time for us to look at doing the same and hand over the power to an individual who has earned the right to be there. Many people are strongly of the belief that the monarchy should be abolished and Graham Smith (2010) of the ‘Republic’ asks a very good question “After 60 years who can quote a famous speech or point to a moment of crisis or celebration when the queen offered leadership and inspiration?” This is the question many people may be asking, and using to question why the monarchy should not be abolished.
Although republicans will point towards this to back the abolishment of the monarchy there are many reasons to support the monarchy and not abolish it. The monarchy is a symbol of Britain and with this comes a feeling of great pride and history. In a BBC poll in 2007 80% of people said they wanted to retain the monarchy. This shows how much the monarchy really means to Britain as a nation and symbolises the pride the nation feels towards the monarchy (Should Britain scrap the monarchy, 2012). The monarchy is not just symbolised across Britain, the British monarchy has a world-wide respected status of authority and symbolises nationhood and stability. Without the monarchy in place many monarchists would argue that the country would lose some of its pride and respect throughout the world; they question whether a president would really command the same respect as the royal family? The respect the monarchy has throughout the world creates good relations with other countries through state visits.
This is vital in many of our country’s business deals and probably would not be possible with a president in place (Should Britain scrap the monarchy, 2012). The British public have a low perception of and a general disliking for politicians and this would be a disadvantage of a presidential system. The general view of monarchists on politicians is that they have one path minds, their way is always correct and they are only interested in their own personal gains (Heffer, 2011). However, the queen is viewed as a neutral figurehead and brings a level of balance and equality into society where the democratic aspects appear corrupt and full of scandal. We only have to look at the recent expense scandals that tarnished the government to see this. From this we can question: is this really how we want our country run? I imagine the majority of people would answer this with a “no”.
Although there are many good points from tourism statistics that back the abolition, there are also statistics that are in favour of the monarchy, in relation to tourism. Perhaps the country would increase its revenue from tourist attractions alone without a monarchy. However, those statistics do not take into account the royal events that bring millions of pounds into the British economy. The royal wedding in 2011 generated an approximate revenue of £1-2 billion, and with over two billion estimated television viewers worldwide it shows the popularity of our monarchy throughout the world (Impact on British economy, 2011). With a president in place it is unlikely that you would achieve figures like this for a “president’s wedding”, it doesn’t have the same appeal.
The queen’s diamond jubilee also had a massive boost on the UK economy with a boost of £409 million. Monarchists would argue that these figures alone are enough to keep the monarchy in place as it out-weighs the counter argument provided by republicans. Overall, after viewing arguments for and against the abolishment of the monarchy, I believe the monarchy should not be abolished. I believe this because without it the country would lose a lot of its worldwide respect. The queen is a symbol of our authority throughout history and commands respect which I feel could not be achieved with a president in place. Whilst everything in society appears corrupt why should we trust a democratic system that would have a president with his own interests at heart?
Throughout all of the government’s recent scandals the monarchy has remained a figure of respect and portrays this image across the world. I do agree with some of the arguments to abolish the monarchy, for example power should be earned not passed down through hereditary links. Nevertheless even though the throne is handed down to them, royalty spend all their lives preparing for the tasks they are required to do. With the inheritance of the throne they also inherit the worldwide respect and I believe that could not be earned by a president. Taking these views into consideration I believe the monarchy should remain intact, and should do for a long time to come.