Opinion

The British Monarchy: politics or heritage?

Written by Joshua Nichols

Never before has the subject of politics been more divisive than today. No matter if you are a right wing Conservative or a left wing Labour supporter, there is one person that has been, and will be for the foreseeable future, in the political elite: the monarch. Although Britain has had a monarch since 827 AD with King Egbert, there is a huge divide between people as to whether or not the monarch represents modern politics or dying heritage.

First of all, it is important to understand what the Queen does in our modern society. Britain as it stands is a constitutional monarchy. This means that the Queen is head of state and can technically veto Parliament bills. Apart from veto power, the Queen has more of a ceremonial role in today’s society than a political role. Some of these roles include:

  • Opening the Houses of Parliament
  • Addressing the nation on Christmas Day
  • Organising state visits for other world leaders

There is a large debate over whether or not the monarchy is still necessary. There are two sides to the argument:

  1. We should not have a monarch as it is not a modern representation of Britain as a society, as well as costing taxpayers’ money to fund her extravagant lifestyle.
  2. We should have a monarch as it represents Britain and is something that people can relate themselves with.

There is an often unseen point that may sway some people in one direction rather than the other.

Tourism.

With the UK tourist industry worth $121 billion (7% of our GDP) and 10% of all working adults working in the tourist industry, it is no joke when I say, as a UK citizen I am thankful of tourism.

People need a reason to come to the UK otherwise they will take their business elsewhere, decreasing the amount of VAT the UK can claim and in turn decreasing the amount of money our councils can spend on making our lives better (yes, even road works).

Even if you were to not include the assets owned by the Royal Family (such as the crown jewels and Buckingham Palace), you would still account for the fact that the Royal Family is responsible for generating £535 million purely from tourism alone – money that we would struggle to live without.

So this brings us nicely to our conclusion. Although the Queen may not be as important as she once would have been, she still plays a role (if indirect) in today’s society by increasing the total income of the tourist industry and also (for some) giving a reason to be British and a representation of our past which is always important to honour.

I cannot tell you if the British monarchy is politics or heritage but I can tell you that it plays a role in our society in many aspects that we would be hard pressed without.

About the author

Joshua Nichols

2 Comments

  • Personally, I have always believed that we should keep the monarchy, even if it is for no reason other than the income that they generate. The royal family currently pays the government 200 million pounds per year in revenue from renting the lands they own; surely, given the state of our economy, this is money we cannot live without.

  • But we don’t actually need the monarchy for tourism. We just need the buildings. For example, the Palace of Versailles in France has the most visitors per year in all of Europe yet France doesn’t have a monarchy. And think how much more money we could get if we could put the Queen’s extensive art collection in a gallery, or if tourists could explore every nook and cranny of Buckingham Palace. At the end of the day, if it comes down to democracy or money, I know which side I’m on.

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