COVID-19 and the Monarchy

There are 10 monarchies left in Europe, 7 of which have populations over 1 million: UK, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. There are 35 countries in Europe that have more than a million inhabitants.

It seems reasonable to only count countries with populations over 1 million since small countries tend to be tax heavens and as such have an extra source of income. Bigger countries could not afford to be run that way as these have to maintain a lot of schools, large infrastructure, defence, etc… and by becoming a tax heaven, they are in effect cutting tax collection within themselves. Essentially, I am saying it is very viable for a small country to be a tax heaven and suck wealth and tax avoiders from elsewhere. For a big country, this is suicidal as cannot pay for own needs by doing so. It is also true that small countries have limited control over Covid-19 spread. There is nothing they can do to stop Coronavirus contamination outside their borders and shutting themselves down is not an option, being a very small country. San Marino and Andorra have been extremely badly hit mainly because of how their immediate neighbours handled Covid-19.

The ranking of recorded COVID-19 deaths per million inhabitants for monarchies with population over 1million is acrimonious: within Europe, Belgium has top position, followed by Spain and UK. Sweden is in 5th position and Netherlands was in 7th position out of 35 countries. Only Denmark and Norway are in the middle of the pack. Recently, the Netherlands has been overtaken by North Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czechia and Moldova at time of writing this. These are all comparatively poorer countries.

The UK was in fact in 2nd position but approximately 5000 deaths vanished in August, because it was decided that if you did not die of COVID-19 within 28 days, then you were not counted. This is because you might have died in a car crash as I read in an article. I found this strange. Surely you recover or die of COVID-19? Most countries have a record of recoveries and active cases. However, a few don’t. These are UK, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands. All monarchies!!! I guess on the 29th day of sickness of someone with coronavirus, you can safely turn the ventilator off. Phew!!! You are safe. Death won’t be counted as COVID-19.

I have spoken so far of recorded cases. If you look at the excess deaths, the situation is even more disastrous: an estimated 60,000 excess deaths in UK. Figure varies depending on time lapse used.

By way of comparison, in five and a half years war 1939-1945, 67200 British civilians lost their lives in WWII. This includes bombing raids from the Luftwaffe and V1 and V2 missile attacks.

I wonder why the death rate has been so high in monarchies. After all, these are all in the richer half of European nations. One possibility is that royals consider themselves superior to other mortals so might have insisted on getting COVID-19 tests first, instead of key NHS staff. This is speculation. Obviously people in regular contact with a lot of other people, especially the sick and elderly should be given absolute first priority.

With this information, my opinion is irrevocable: the monarchy should be abolished and Great Britain should become a republic.

This is easily said and convincing others is an altogether more challenging task.

If you look at remaining monarchies, with the exception of Spain, these are all within countries where Germanic culture has most influence. Yes, even Belgium is Germanic dominant. It has more Flemish speakers than French speakers and Northern France is known to be strongly influenced by Flanders. Only Spain is Latin. Spain had become a republic and then it had the civil war 1936-1939. Unfortunately dictator Francisco Franco with the help of the Nazis and the Fascists was able to defeat the republicans.

People of Germanic culture love to stick to traditions. A pub in England does not usually change name in hundreds of years. The equivalent café in France changes name with every new owner. If Germany and Austria had not lost the Great War, they might still be monarchies now even though the German Emperor was not popular in many parts of Germany, being seen as a Prussian bully. It is curious Germany still called itself “Deutsch Reich” (German Kingdom) in the 1920s. Technically it was a republic.

Because of this love of tradition, it is extremely difficult to convince people the monarchy should be abolished. All the evidence points towards huge benefits of becoming a republic. Even speaking of traditions, we will preserve more of these by changing and reforming our institutions to make these work more efficiently and more effectively. A monarchy is an anachronism, a relic of the 19th century and before. It represents privilege and servitude. We need to move to the 21st century towards a society that is more meritocratic. We need a country where talent, hard work, skill and initiative are rewarded. The monarchy with all its strings attached is holding us back. I have some hope: at the time of the Reformation, Germanic countries became predominantly protestant, whereas Latin countries stayed catholic. Perhaps the domino effect dear to Kissinger might take effect?

I have made some investigation by reading republican literature and I confess I am shocked. I did not realize the situation was quite that bad.

The problem with republicans is that they are like a woman who has been beaten and cheated by her husband. She goes to court, enumerates how horrible her husband has been, all the nasty things he has done. She gets upset, shouts, screams and howls. Before she knows what she has done, the judge gets bored and she has lost the case. The judge here is the British public.

Having said this, I will nevertheless give a quick summary of British monarchy here.

In 1760, King George III agreed to surrender the Crown Estate to the government in exchange for the Civil List. This meant government gets income from Crown Estate, but also has to pay salaries and pensions of ministers, judges and those in the civil service and the costs of the armed forces and secret services too.

The Crown Estate excludes the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster. Prince Charles has all income generated by the Duchy of Cornwall and the Queen similarly for the Duchy of Lancaster.

This has lead to absurd and archaic rules: if someone dies without a will or a company is dissolved, all relevant assets go to Prince Charles for Duchy of Cornwall or the Queen for Duchy of Lancaster. Prince Charles has just pocketed one million pounds from people dying interstate in Cornwall. King George VI did same for WWII personnel who were resident on Duchy of Lancaster and were killed in the war having forgotten to make a will.

The rules regulating the monarchy are in large part either absent or hidden. We do not know the cost of security of royals. The royals confuse public and private ownership or travel expense and use whatever suits them. For instance, Buckingham Palace is public when it comes to repairs and the taxpayer has to pay. When it comes to ticket receipts from visitors, it is private and the Queen pockets the money.

Only the Queen has a constitutional role, yet the taxpayer is paying an absolute fortune for the upkeep of royals. Even minor ones will request expensive security protection all at taxpayers’ expense. All royals have privileged access to Crown Estate prime property often at very low rent. They also have access to pictures and art from Royal Collection, which actually belongs to the state, not the Queen personally.

Nepotism is rife: the Queen has given lots of undeserved medals and titles to her family. Prince Charles has 31 medals in all. He also has a 4 star rank in each of the armed services: General in Army, an Admiral in Navy and an air field marshal in RAF. There is the “Order of Merit” medal given to “exceptionally meritorious services to the art and science”. 24 members in all, all decided by the Queen. Tim Berner-Lees of internet fame is a holder. So is Prince Charles and Prince Phillip. For non royals, there is a limit of 6 medals that can be won, but Royal Family has more than a hundred medals between them. In 2011, Prince Andrew had been messing around with Jeffrey Epstein and was criticized for that. What does the Queen do? She gives him “Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order” medal.

William is now Commodore in Chief of the submarine service.

We as taxpayers have been paying an absolute fortune in travelling costs for Royals. The royals love to travel by helicopter, which is an extremely expensive, fuel inefficient means of transport. Not only that, royals use helicopter travel paid for by taxpayer for private, non official travel so Prince Andrew can play golf for instance. Princess Ann used a helicopter to get to a pony meeting. It seems royals use helicopters to travel between their residences. Every helicopter trip costs several thousand pounds and it all adds up.

The royals will charter a plane for their sole use at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds per trip.

Then there is the Royal Train, which is slow and inefficient. A whole train for a royal and his or her servants is absurd. Fortunately only Prince Charles and the Queen use it and not very often.

Finally, we had the Royal Yacht Britannia, which has now luckily been retired. It has sucked an absolute fortune in taxpayers’ money. Originally it was intended to also be used as a hospital ship in a time of crisis at least officially. However, at the same time until near its retirement, it could not have fitted into Navy fleet because it ran on a different fuel so engine was quieter for royals’ comfort.

I will talk now about amount of money we are paying into Royal Family. Prior to 2012, the UK had the Civil List, Grant In Aid and other grants for upkeep of monarchy. The Civil List was only £7.1 million per annum for years 2001-2011. In 2012, all this was replaced by the Sovereign Grant which has gone from £31 million per annum in 2012 to £82.8 million pa in 2018-2019 and a similar figure in 2020. It is either 15% of Crown Estate or at least amount of previous year, whichever is greatest. It cannot go down.

On top of that, Prince Charles gets additional income from Duchy of Cornwall (£21.7m in 2017–18) and similarly for the Queen with Duchy of Lancaster (£23,244,000 in 2019/2020), all tax free.

All these costs exclude security for royals. This cost is a secret and is hidden because we are told divulging it would help terrorists.

This is a short synopsis of current situation. I will not describe here environmental damage and damage to the diplomatic reputation of the UK the Royals have done, all at great cost to the taxpayer.

Metaphorically speaking, the situation is like this: the monarchy steals the cake and this is is all hushed up. In return, the monarchy gives back a few crumbs. This is well publicized and the royals are portrayed as very generous. It is infuriating most people are so gullible.

The literature I have read complains of excessive deference by successive governments towards Royals. What comes across to me is successive governments are worried about spending too much time dealing with Monarchy and also concerned about getting re-elected so don’t want to antagonize the Queen.

So we are effectively investing several hundred million pounds every year in our past instead of investing in the future. We should be investing more in education, new technologies, infrastructure as well as in deprived areas of UK. Instead, we are spending the money for the upkeep of a single family. We are paying for servants to get Prince Charles’ morning egg absolutely right. An example amongst perhaps thousands of completely redundant jobs.

What are the advantages of the Monarchy?

The answer is none whatsoever. All money spent on them has just gone down the drain.

Essentially, the Queen is popular because of a carefully choreographed media. The Palace decides exactly how the Royals should be presented. This is what you have in dictatorships, not in democracies. We are made to believe the Royals work really hard and are very decent and nice and deserving people. This is of course utter complete fabrication. We are thus unaware we are living in a dictatorship. A mediatic dictatorship when you are free to vote and make a decision but where your access to information is carefully controlled and any undesirable information is filtered out.

I will now examine two myths the media have perpetrated on behalf of the Royal family. It is perceived the monarchy does a lot for charity and helps tourism. None of these notions are correct.

Talking about charities generally, it is a very good means for the donor to feel good and portrait a good image of him or herself while not really doing any good at all. For instance, the very wealthy will give a lot of money to Royal charities but save vastly more in tax dodging. Personally, I want to feel that the state is taking charge of those in need. I do not want to speculate myself on who needs help most. I will donate blood as this is organized by the NHS and I can be confident that it is put to good use. I want to do actual good, not feel good. Charities, including Royal charities spend huge amounts of money in administrative costs and in promoting themselves. Sometimes most of the money that has been raised has gone in administering the charity and only a small percentage in actual help. It is known Prince Charles went to the States to raise money for charity and most money raised was spent on parties and other costs. Prince Charles’ travel expenses paid for by the taxpayer of course just in case you didn’t know.

Concerning tourist revenues, it is simply not true that Royal family is good for tourism. Tourism income has actually gone down in years there has been a Royal wedding. Tourists come to visit Great Britain and Northern Ireland, not to see the Queen. France is a republic and vastly more people visit the Palace of Versailles than any British Royal palace. Furthermore, most Royal palaces are closed to the public and only a tiny percentage of Royal Collection can be seen by tourists and I must not forget to mention entry fee is expensive and each picture praises the Queen for her generosity in allowing paying visitors the privilege of seeing works of art. Most of Royal collection is state property and does not belong to Queen personally. In any case, a country such as Britain should not rely on tourism income for its running. It should be seen as handy additional pocket money, nothing more.

Many people voted leave because they felt the EU was harming the UK. In reality, it is the Monarchy that is doing huge amount of harm to Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is one of the culprits, but not the only culprit. We have a culture of tax avoidance and big money paid to political parties. We have a media that is controlled by media barons keen on avoiding tax. The electoral First Past The Post system is yet another problem. Worst of all, we allow liars in politics and lies to be used in elections and referendums. That is the mediatic dictatorship where you are allowed to vote but are misled and those who mislead do so with almost complete impunity.

Unfortunately, the approach now is to write petition after petition and hope these will have an effect let alone be approved. There are far too many petitions we needs to write that most voters won’t understand anyway.

Do you build a car by writing petitions? Of course not, you go to drawing board and design one.

We have to go real: the UK is one of few countries in Europe that has not undergone a change of regime in 20th century. That is precisely what this country needs: new institutions and a constitution put in place preferably strongly inspired by systems that work such as Germany’s.

We also need to reform our media so it is trusted by the public. Right now we don’t need to worry about fake news from Russia as part of media is doing the job already.

It is intellectually dishonest to reproach leavers for having been mislead while at the same time turning a blind eye to the utter greed of the Royals including the Queen. It insults my probity to see the very wealthy increase their wealth through tax avoidance while there are so many deprived and left out areas in Britain.

Sadly we are divided, but we should be united. United against lies. No I don’t think Scottish independence is going to sort out their problems. We are better fighting united.

An estimated sixty thousand people have died in UK because of bad handling of Covid. Hopefully this will get the right reaction from the general public and part of the establishment.

We need a change of regime. That is a monumental task but we need to focus on that and the future, instead of looking for blame. Boris Johnson is just a product of a failed system.

Sadly, I fear most British people are looking back at a golden age and glorious past. To leavers, it is before we joined the EU. To remainers, it is before the 2016 referendum. To Prince Charles, it is before 1760.

Christopher Camacho

11th November 2020

Sources:

Worldometers - Coronavirus

Wikipedia - Financial and social rakings of sovereign states in Europe

Wikipedia - World War II casualties

BBC - Coronavirus: England death count review reduces UK toll by 5,000

...And What do you do? - Norman Baker - ISBN 978-1-78590-491-2

Living off the state - John Temple - ISBN 978-0-9558311-1-9

Royal Legacy - David McClure - ISBN 978-1-910198-65-0