I remember silver. The Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” took first place despite the BBC’s ban. The students organized marches “Start the jubilee”. The air was filled with rebellion and rebellion.
Ironically, Republicans seem to be less active now. Perhaps in part because of the way the Queen ran her household during the turbulent decades. She tried to modernize the royal family, emphasized a civic role, and kept some distance from the political leadership.
Undoubtedly a job well done. But as the talk of succession intensifies, is it wrong to ask how many more monarchs and anniversaries a country should have if it seeks the moniker of modern and democratic?
In most countries of the world, people are used to electing their own heads of state, and yet in the UK, many people not only support the monarchy, but also find it outrageous that someone says it’s time to move on.
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Its reputation has been hurt by misguided members, whether it’s Andrew’s friendship with pedophile Jeffrey Epstein or Harry and Meghan pretending to be ordinary people to claim celebrity rights.
Spending £200m on a new royal yacht won’t help either. But ironically, there is no concerted effort to reform or replace the institution.
It doesn’t help that issues related to the role, organization and funding of the monarchy are incredibly opaque.
The royal finances, generally speaking, come from three sources: private assets; a sovereign grant linked to Crown Estate profits; and the Privy Purse, profits from an estate called the Duchy of Lancaster.
Aside from the wealth tax dispute, there isn’t much to say about the Queen’s considerable personal wealth. But the other two are entirely made up of money we have accumulated.
Last year, the Sovereign Grant amounted to nearly £86 million. It finances the civic role of the monarchy, is fairly public and well-reviewed. But even with the presence of kings and queens, it is quite expensive. Ten times more than in Spain, 12 times more than in Sweden.
The Duchy of Lancaster fills the Privy Purse with farms, land and real estate, as well as several industrial offshoots. The duchy was founded in 1399, but its ownership passes to each new monarch – it comes with the office.
Income is considered public enough, not private, to be tax-free. Prime ministers even appoint one of their ministers as chairman of the governing body. However, it cannot be considered by Parliament and is not subject to freedom of information law.
To find out if the money helped finance Prince Andrew’s lawsuit and his recent sexual settlement, as many have suggested, I tried to question the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a cabinet minister. But to no avail. Now I’m taking the matter directly to the royal court.
At the current state of affairs, Prince George is likely to become king in 40-50 years. Could it be right that we now know who will rule the people who have not yet been born? This is just one of many arguments for a fundamental change in how we are governed.
Tommy Sheppard is the SNP MP for Edinburgh East.