This article appeared in The Herald
Like many people, I was once rather convinced of the merits of republicanism. After being hectored by faux-proletarian Trotskyite agitprop vendors outside Glasgow University library every day for four years, however, the condition eased.
Those who would have done with constitutional hereditary monarchy seem disinclined to acknowledge that revolution never spared France or Russia from despotism, that Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a sociopath, that banishing Constantine II in 1974 hasn’t done Greece much good or that 69p per citizen per year is excellent value for the entertainment Prince Philip alone provides.
That said, it seems only right – in a democratic age – that as we brace ourselves for years of strikes and potholes and libraries closing down, the Queen should also draw in her horns, so to speak. To that end, George Osborne announced this week there will be no rise on the £7.9m the royals receive each year through the Civil List.
Of course, the Queen does surrender the revenue from royal property held by the Crown Estate – believed to be upwards of £200m every year – and is loved by all foreigners, even the French, Russians and Greeks, thus swelling the coffers of UK plc via tourism and helping to fund history lessons in our schools about the evils of her forebears and the hereditary principle in general. But, still, maybe the royals could do a bit more to help reduce the deficit.
Even before she was caught offering industrialists access to her ex-husband Prince Andrew for £500,000, the palace thought Sarah Ferguson unspeakably common, but what if she was on to something? If people exist who believe access to Prince Andrew might be of any use whatsoever, what harm punting his services by the hour for the country?
In a similar vein, if Phil agreed to make a donation to the Exchequer every time he offended a foreigner, those tours of the Commonwealth might pay for themselves. Charles, meanwhile, might simply be given some gentle encouragement to stop talking about homeopathy, Gaia and so on.
The point here is that there is time for the royal family to save the country from itself and thesselves from the gibbet. The alternatives are unthinkable: either we’d have to elect a career politician head of state or we’d end up at the mercy of quangocrats or J K Rowling or Ant and Dec.