What is the fiscal relationship between the Royal Family of the United Kingdom and its taxpayers? I have no idea.
U.K. readers, what say you? (Transcript after the jump.)
Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Look. At. That.
What a waste. That queen, living it off the government in her castles with her corgis. (and gin) Just how much does this cost to maintain?
The answer: 40 million pounds.
That’s about 65 pence per person per year of tax money going to the royal family.
Sure, It’s still twenty-three pence short of a complete shield, but it might be more than you want to pay.
Any after all, those are your coins. Why does the queen get to steal them?
Well, it’s a little complicated.
The story starts with this guy: King George the third, most well known as the monarch who lost the United States for the Empire.
Less well known – but far more interesting – is he likely suffered from a mental illness called Porphyria which has the unusual side effect of transforming your poop from it’s normal boring brown to a delightful shade of purple.
But I digress – back to the the reason the Royals get tax money.
King George was having trouble paying his bills and had racked up debt.
While he did own huge tracts of land, the profit from their rental was too small to cover his expenses.
He offered a deal to parliament: for the rest of his life he would surrender the profits from the rents on his land in exchange for getting a fixed annual salary and having his debts removed.
Parliament took him up on the deal, guessing that the profits from the rents would pay off long-term.
Just how well did parliament do? Back to the present let’s compare their profits and losses by using a tenner to represent 10 million pounds.
The cost to maintain the royal family today is 40 million pounds per year.
But the revenue paid to the UK from the royal lands is 200 million.
200 million in revenue subtract 40 million in salary costs equals 160 million pounds in profit.
That’s right: The United Kingdom earns 160 million pounds in profit, every year from the Royal Family.
So stop all your moaning about the Royal family and how much they cost and how worthless they are. The Royal Family is Great for Great Britain.
Doing the individual’s math again:
160 million pounds divided by 62 million people is about 2 pounds and 60 pence.
Because of the Royal Family, your taxes are actually 2 pounds and 60 pence cheaper each year than they would otherwise be.
But perhaps that’s not enough for you because you’re a real greedy geezer. Why not kick they royals out and keep 100% of the revenue.
Because it’s still their land. King George the crazy wasn’t crazy enough to give up everything, just the profits.
But it wasn’t only him: every Monarch since King George the third has voluntarily turned over the profits from their land to the United Kingdom. Again: Voluntarily.
If the government stopped paying the Royal Family’s living and state expenses the Royals would be forced to take back the profits from their land. And your taxes, dear Monarchy-haters, would go UP not DOWN.
Plus 160 million is just the easily measurable money the United Kingdom makes from the royal family.
Don’t forget their huge indirect golden goose: tourists.
Annoying though they might be to the locals by blocking the tube and refusing to stand on the right, they dump buckets of money on the UK to see the sights, travel ludicrously short distances by public transport, and generally act silly a long way from home.
Sure not everything they come to see is royal, but the most expensive stuff is.
And who are the biggest spenders? The Yanks.
After they’ve finished buying maple syrup & cheap, pharmaceuticals, Tijuanaian professional services & illegal pharmaceuticals, where do they go next?
The United Kingdom.
Americans fly across an ocean to see a land filled with Castles that aren’t plastic.
And why do the Americans think Frances castles are so boring and stinky and the UK’s castles so awesome? Because real monarchs still use them.
The tower of London is so stunning to visitors because the Royal Crest on the Yeomen Warders Uniform is real. It’s not a lame historical re-enactment or modern LARPing.
It’s the embodiment of the living, breathing queen.
Everywhere you look she’s sprinkled fairy dust on banal objects to make them magically attractive to tourists.
12 million of whom visit every year spending 7,000 million pounds.
Which suddenly makes those direct profits look like rather small change.
But perhaps you don’t care than the monarchs are a perpetual GOLD MINE for the UK. You’re a Republican and you dislike like the royal family because of their political power. After all, the government gets all its right to rule through the crown, not the people.
And yes, I’ll grant you that back in the head-choppy days of yore, this was a legitimate concern, but the modern queen isn’t a dangerous political lion but a declawed kitten.
Her powers are limited to a kabuki theater act of approving what parliament wants to do anyway.
Remove the royal family from government and fundamentally nothing would be different except now you wouldn’t live in the magical United Kingdom but the rather dull United Republic of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A.K.A URESWNI for short. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
But, maybe I’m wrong – perhaps the queen is a political ticking time bomb, just waiting for her chance to declare random wars and devolve parliaments for the lulz.
But until that day comes.
God save the queen.