I’m sure many people around the world can attest to the fact that the monarchy has always been a topic of interest and debate. As an American, I am often drawn to the history, traditions, and iconic figures of the British royal family. Whether it’s following the latest news about Prince William and Kate Middleton, or binge-watching historical dramas like “The Crown,” I can’t help but be captivated by the unique world of the British royals.
The recent coronation of King Charles III has only exacerbated this international fascination, with people from all over the world tuning in to watch the spectacle. But as the confetti settles and the hype dies down, it’s important to ask ourselves some critical questions about the place of the monarchy in modern society.
As the UK struggles with a housing crisis, rising inflation, and worker strikes, it is hard to justify spending over $125 million on a coronation. Like many others, I find the most concerning issue is the amount of taxpayer money spent annually on maintaining the royal family’s lavish lifestyle. Indeed, the taxpayer-funded payment known as the Sovereign Grant that goes towards supporting their lifestyle totaled to a whopping $108 million in 2021-2022.
But the controversy surrounding the monarchy goes beyond financial concerns. Many view it as an outdated symbol of privilege and elitism, while others argue that the monarchy is undemocratic because it is based on hereditary succession rather than merit or election. Though opinions may differ on the legitimacy of the British monarchy, it is clear that these royal titles also come with flagrant royal privilege — the royals are exempt from income taxes, inheritance taxes, and even the law.
And yet, despite these concerns, the monarchy still holds a special place in the hearts of many Britons. For some, it represents a sense of national pride and identity. The fabulous lives of the royals also serve as a means of extreme fascination, interest, and escape for many regular citizens. According to a recent YouGov poll, more than half of Britons (54%) still believe that the royal family represents good value for money.
However, the popularity of the monarchy has been decreasing, particularly among the younger generation of British citizens. Currently, only 36% of British citizens aged 18-24 years old support the monarchy, according to a poll by Statista. In a 2021 poll by British Social Attitudes, 55% agreed that the monarchy is ‘very’ or ‘quite’ important for Britain, which is the lowest figure recorded. It’s clear that the younger generation has a different perspective on the monarchy than their parents or grandparents.
The future of the British monarchy in today’s society remains uncertain, with arguments for and against its continued existence. As our society evolves, so too must our institutions. The question remains: can the monarchy adapt to these changes and continue to justify its existence?