June 28

Still an extraordinary bargain


For many years now this column has been arguing – consistently – that the monarchy represents an extraordinary bargain. This is especially so for the British. This is because The Queen has handed over her personal income from the Crown Estate to the government in return for the Civil List and other grants made to cover various head of state costs, including the buildings which are the heritage of the nation.

Every monarch since George III has done this. But given the way the politicians have behaved, it is appropriate that in the next reign the agreement be reversed. The Sovereign could first fund the head of state costs and then hand over any surplus at the end of each year. 


…no salary, superannuation or golden handshake…

It is important to understand that no salary as such is paid to The Queen. The payments are made only to provide – grossly inadequately – for the costs of being the head of state of the United Kingdom. It is also important to understand that Her Majesty has never been paid for being Queen of Australia in both its federal and state  manifestations, as well as Queen of Canada, New Zealand and her other Realms, nor as Head of the Commonwealth.

Nor is provision made for any superannuation or a golden handshake on retirement, which is not on the agenda anyway. The Queen regards her Oath to serve as binding for life.   As far as we can see, this site has been alone in the world in so consistently making the point that the monarchy is an extraordinary bargain. In fact we have reiterated that point fifteen times over the last few years. We have done this because of the constant untruths spread by republicans over the so called cost of the Royal Family.

We assume, charitably, that the republicans are just ill-informed and are not deliberately misrepresenting the true position.

…low cost monarchy… 

And that cost is low. Last year the Civil List and grants totalled £35.1 million. The Crown Estate handed over to the Treasury the British government’s extraordinary profit on the Royal Family of £226.5 million. In the meantime the government refuses to adequately maintain the heritage buildings which are falling into a state of disrepair. The Civil List has been frozen for an unbelievable 21 years.

it was encouraging then to see Gerald Warner making the same point in the London Daily Telegraph (“Royal family is a bargain for Britain,” 23/6)

Pointing out the monarchy costs 69p a year for every person in Britain, or £1.33 per taxpayer, Mr. Warner says that claims  a republican head of state would be less costly are absurd.

“The German presidency costs about the same as the Queen, but how many tourists line the streets of Berlin to catch a glimpse of – er – what is his name? In France, Nicolas Sarkozy set an annual budget for his establishment at the Elysée of 110 million euros (£90 million)."

" Last year, the French head of state's expenses were audited for the first time since the reign of Louis XVI; it revealed a flower bill of 275,809 euros and 3,000 euros in fines for late payment of electricity and gas, ” he writes.

..true worth priceless…

“Although the monarchy undoubtedly represents value for money, its true worth cannot be expressed in financial terms,” he warns. Apart from her ceremonial role the Crown is, constitutionally, the guarantor of stability  and the central institution which ensures continuity.”

Just imagine if the Australian people had agreed to hand over all power to the politicians in 1999. Since then prominent republicans have admitted the 1999 model was as flawed as the No case argued.“She also gives authority a human face. In other countries, how many hospital wards are significantly cheered by the visit of a republican head of state, usually a political retread with partisan baggage?”

Mr. Warner points to that additional advantage of a Royal Family is that  with several members carrying out official duties, many more engagements can be accommodated than any single president could ever perform. That is true too of Australia.

Mr. Warner concluded: “In faithful fulfilment of the promise she made on her accession to the throne, the Queen has served her people with total dedication. May she do so for years to come.”  We heartily agree, and we are sure, so do most Australians. 



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