Royal finances – our money and theirs

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL February 18, 2022

Some angry British taxpayers are using the term “crowdfunding” to explain their view of how the royal family is funded. This is in the context of growing public disgust at the thought the Queen might help Prince Andrew pay off Virginia Giuffre, a woman he claimed never to have met.

Check out this tweet railing against “the most abhorrent crowdfunder I never asked to be part of”.

The funny bit in that tweet is the terminology, fusing the 21st century with a bygone era. Today’s crowdfunder was yesterday’s royal right. Once upon a time, a hereditary monarchy provided stability in a settled form of government. In return, the monarch was able to levy a tax on their subjects, which was paid in grain, farm products, services and suchlike.

The question to ask is not about the Queen’s alleged decision to spend or not to spend, but why are we still part of this crowdfunder? Why are we still plouging a path not taken by any other country in Europe?

After the second world war, European kings and queens either became one of the people, or largely irrelevant to affairs of state.  As a British commentator once pointed out, some of Europe’s most progressive democracies have titular monarchs and they are  mostly anonymous men and women, whose families too remain pretty unknown.

Not so the British royal family, which is unique in taking the route to A-list celebrity, with all the inherent risks that come when one of its members steps out of line.

But a hereditary monarchy can only work in a democracy if it retains public support. Crowdfunders to pay off the excesses of princes lessen public support. That said, in the royal purse, public and private finances are dreadfully commingled.

Next: Royal finances – our money is theirs and vice versa