Graham Charles Lear
16 min readMay 20, 2018

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The British Monarchy

Today I would like to address the British Monarchy and put a few misconceptions to bed.

We have had a Monarchy of some sorts for the last 12/15 hundred years with a small period of time when we went full Republic on the 30 January 1649, when we executed King Charles 1 until we put his son Charles 11 back on the throne on the 29 May 1660.

King Charles 1
King Charles 11

Since then with a few ups and downs the British Monarchy has survived.

Our latest Monarch is now in the record books as being our longest serving Monarch. Queen Elizabeth 11 first came to the Throne on the 6 February 1952 when her father died and is still Monarch as I write this on the 19 May 2018.

Much has changed in that time. When Elizabeth first sat on the throne Britain still had an Empire although at that point in time we had started to give back countrys their Independence. The Queen also paid no taxes on her vast fortune that was left to her by her father King George VI the king who never wanted to be king.

It took a long time for the Queen to pay a tax. The Empire though was soon no more the last countrie to be given their Independence back was Brunei 1 January 1984

The British Monarchy holds a huge amount of historic property in the UK, which is managed by the Crown Estate. Under current arrangements, the Queen receives 25% of the Crown Estate’s revenues in the form of a Sovereign Grant, which is used to fund her official work and the upkeep of her residences.

She pays around £450 million a year in tax making her the UK largest payer of tax and has been paying tax since 1992 when she decided that it was unfair not to pay tax on her income.

Although The British Monarchy owns a vast amount of land its held in a sort of trust called the Crown Estate

This how it works

The Crown Estate belongs to the reigning monarch ‘in right of The Crown’, that is, it is owned by the monarch for the duration of their reign, by virtue of their accession to the throne. But it is not the private property of the monarch — it cannot be sold by the monarch. In other words Elizabeth 11 can't just say I want to sell a portion of it.

The Government also does not own The Crown Estate. It is managed by an independent organisation — established by statute — headed by a Board (also known as The Crown Estate Commissioners), and the surplus revenue from the estate is paid each year to the Treasury for the benefit of the nation’s finances.

Although the ownership of some property can be traced back to Edward the Confessor, the estate as a whole essentially dates from the time of the Norman Conquest.

In 1760, George III reached an agreement with the Government over the estate. The Crown Lands would be managed on behalf of the Government and the surplus revenue would go to the Treasury. In return the King would receive a fixed annual payment — what later became known as the Civil List.

Today, The Crown Estate operates under the auspices of the Crown Estate Act of 1961, which declares that the estate shall be managed by a Board who have a duty to maintain and enhance the value of the estate and the return obtained from it, but with due regard to the requirements of good management.

The British Treasury are effectively the principal Government stakeholder for The Crown Estate. They are kept informed of the estate’s overall business plans and strategies, although responsibility for the management of the estate rests with the Board.

The Crown Estate is formally accountable to Parliament to which it reports annually.

The working relationship between The Crown Estate and the Treasury is described in a framework document which is updated annually or as occasion require.

Many people think the Monarchy leeches off the people in the form of being taxed. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's true we British are taxed a little. That is for the upkeep of the Protection of the Monarch and her offsprings and the cost to everyone who pays tax is just 65p per week.

As I have said Queen is paid 25% of the Crown Estate’s revenues in the form of a Sovereign Grant which amounts to £35 million a year. Many people think that amount goes into the bank account of the Queen. It does not. In fact the Queen herself is not paid one penny for the work she does. That 35 million pays for the State visits garden parties the upkeep of the Royal residence which is owned by the State NOT the Queen and pays the salaries of every member of her staff that she has to have.

The Queen has private residences those are Balmoral estate in Scotland and Sandringham in Norfolk England. Those residences are her own and are not owned by the State. Both have been passed down by past Queens and Kings. Balmoral estate was first brought by Queen Victoria as a holiday home where she and her family could go in the summer months away from London.

Balmoral Castle has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852, having been first leased in 1848.

In the autumn of 1842, two and a half years after her marriage to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria paid her first visit to Scotland. They were so struck with the Highlands that they resolved to return. A further visit to Perthshire and then Ardverikie encouraged them to seize the opportunity to purchase Balmoral.

Balmoral Castle

After searching enquiries they bought the estate on the 17th February 1848 and on 8th September 1848 they arrived to take possession of a property they had never seen, but to which they had committed themselves for many years to come. They were not disappointed and when they returned South they opened negotiations for the purchase of the land on which Balmoral stood.

These protracted negotiations were completed on 22nd June 1852, when the fee simple of Balmoral was purchased by Prince Albert. Once the land was purchased they decided to rebuild as the building was no longer adequate for their needs. The architect selected was William Smith, City Architect of Aberdeen. Soon after the family arrived at the Castle, Mr Smith was summoned from Aberdeen on 8th September 1852.

Prince Albert decided to build a new Castle as the current one was considered not large enough for the Royal Family. A new site was chosen, 100 yards to the North West of the building, so that they could continue to occupy the old house while the new Castle was under construction.

The foundation stone for Balmoral Castle was laid by Queen Victoria on 28th September 1853 and can be found at the foot of the wall adjacent to the West face of the entrance porch. Before the foundation stone was placed in position Queen Victoria signed a parchment recording the date. This parchment, together with an example of each of the current coins of the realm, was then placed in a bottle, inserted into a cavity below the site prepared for the stone.

The Castle was completed in 1856 and the old building was then demolished. This building is commemorated by a stone which is located on the front lawn at a point opposite the tower and about 100 yards from the path. This stone marks the position of the front door to the demolished castle.

When Queen Victoria died in 1901 Balmoral Estates passed, under the terms of her will, to King Edward VII, and from him to each of his successors. Balmoral Estates has been more than just a favourite home to successive generations of the Royal Family.

Although it remains largely the same as it was in Queen Victoria’s reign, successive Royal owners have followed the initiative of Prince Albert in making improvements to the estate.

Sandringham in Norfolk England was also brought by Queen Victoria not for herself but for her eldest son Albert Edward, Prince of Wales. In the spring of 1862, Sandringham House with its estate at the time of 2,800 hectares was bought from the Cowper family as a country home for Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, who had just turned 21. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had decided that he should move from the family home to a house of his own. His principal residence was to be Marlborough House in London but it was felt that he should also have a private house well away from town so that he would be able to escape when duty permitted and enjoy the benefits of a healthy country life. Many properties were inspected and the search was still in train when the tragic and premature death of the Prince Consort brought it to an abrupt halt. However, Queen Victoria decided that everything must go on as her husband would have wished and so the Prince of Wales prepared for a visit to Sandringham. On inspection, the property was decided to be most suitable and so the purchase was concluded a few days later.

The Prince made the old house habitable and moved in with his new wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, three weeks after their marriage in 1863. It soon became evident that the old house was too cramped for the Prince’s growing family; it was demolished to make way for a new house, designed by a Norwich architect, AJ Humbert and built by Goggs Brothers of Swaffham. The main house was completed in 1870; a ballroom was added in 1881 and a new guest accommodation wing in the 1890s.

After King Edward VII’s death in 1910, one of his friends wrote, “Up to the last year of his life he was continually improving his domain, repairing churches, spending money on the place in one way or another.” His son, King George V, wrote, “Dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world,” and his grandson, King George VI, wrote “I have always been happy here and I love the place.”. It is evident from the amount of time that the Queen and her family spend ther that this affection continues as strongly as ever.

The gardens at Sandringham were first opened to the public by King Edward VII in 1908, and in 1930 the Museum was opened with an admission charge of 3d. Her Majesty the Queen opened the House itself to the public in her Silver Jubilee year, 1977.

Sandringham Estate is The Queen’s private estate and The Duke of Edinburgh took on overall responsibility for its management at the start of Her Majesty’s reign in 1952. One of His Royal Highness’s principles has been to maintain the estate for future generations, so conservation has always been an important part of the Estate’s management practices. Over five thousand trees and several miles of hedges are planted each year, ten wetland areas have been created, sympathetic farming practices encourage many different species of wildlife, and food waste, glass, metals, plastic, cardboard and paper are all recycled.

Over 200 people gain their living from the Estate, including farmers, foresters, gamekeepers and gardeners, as well as in the visitor business and at the sawmill and the apple juice pressing plant. In addition to the activities of the Estate itself, tenants of Estate land and properties run businesses ranging from arable and stock farming to property companies and building design. The Estate works hard to help local farms and businesses maximise their opportunities and to help sustain the local rural economy through diversification and co-operation.

There is a Royal household who work for the Royal Family

There are five main Departments of the Royal Household, who work collaboratively to ensure the aims and objectives of the organisation are achieved.

Some of the Staff of the Royal Household relaxing

The Private Secretary’s Office supports The Queen in her crucial constitutional, governmental and political duties as Head of State. Organising domestic and overseas official programmes, they also advise on constitutional matters, and take responsibility for everything from speeches and correspondence, to official presents and congratulatory messages to members of the public.

The Privy Purse and Treasurer’s Office enables the Household to operate as a business. This includes vital support functions such as Finance, HR, IT and Telecoms, Internal Audit and Property Services. Many of the team hold professional qualifications in their field, and collaboration is at the heart of all that they do.

The Master of the Household’s Department handles everything involved in the official and private entertaining across all the Royal residences. Their remit spans hospitality, catering and housekeeping arrangements. As such, their diverse team includes everyone from florists and upholsterers to specialist craftspeople and caterers.

The Lord Chamberlain’s Office is responsible for organising those elements of The Queen’s programme that involve ceremonial activity or public facing events. These range from garden parties and state visits, to royal weddings and the State Opening of Parliament. They also handle the Royal Mews and Royal Travel, as well as the biannual awarding of honours.

Royal Collection Trust is responsible for the care and presentation of the Royal Collection, and manages the public opening of the official residences of Her Majesty The Queen and of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

The Queen has ruled for longer than any other Monarch in British history, becoming a much loved and respected figure across the globe. Her extraordinary reign has seen her travel more widely than any other monarch, undertaking many historic overseas visits. Known for her sense of duty and her devotion to a life of service, she has been an important figurehead for the UK and the Commonwealth during times of enormous social change.

Her Majesty continues to carry out a full programme of engagements, from visits to charities and schools, to hosting visiting Heads of State, to leading the nation in Remembrance and celebratory events — all supported by other members of the Royal Family.

The Queen sees public and voluntary service as one of the most important elements of her work. The Queen has links — as Royal Patron or President — with over 600 charities, military associations, professional bodies and public service organisations. These vary from well-established international charities to smaller bodies working in a specialist area or on a local basis only.

Her patronages and charities cover a wide range of issues, from opportunities for young people, to the preservation of wildlife and the environment. Having Her Majesty as Royal patron or president provides vital publicity for the work of these organisations, and allows their enormous achievements and contributions to society to be recognised.

As Sovereign, The Queen is Head of the Armed Forces, and is also the wife, mother and grandmother of individuals having served in the Forces.

The Queen’s relationship with the Armed Forces began when, as Princess Elizabeth, she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in 1945, becoming the first female member of the Royal Family to join the Armed Services as a full-time active member. During her time in the ATS, the Princess learnt to drive and to maintain vehicles. Since then, The Queen has maintained a close relationship with the Armed Forces through regular visits to service establishments and ships. She holds many military appointments and honorary ranks.

As is the tradition for the monarch’s birthday, The Queen’s birthday is celebrated every year with the great military display of Trooping of the Colour. For many years, The Queen attended Trooping on horseback and dressed in military uniform.

The Queen also spends much time meeting servicemen and women of all ranks, and their families, both at home and on overseas trips.

In addition to awarding various military honours at investitures, The Queen also introduced the Elizabeth Cross. The first medal to which The Queen put her name, this was instituted in 2009 to give special recognition to the families of those who have died on military operations, or as a result of terrorism, since 1948. In addition to honours, The Queen also leads the nation each year in paying respects to the fallen each year on Remembrance Sunday.

Now that we know a little about the British Monarchy let's look at cost and see if its worth having a Monarchy or a Republic in monetary terms. The best way to do that is to look at Republican Nations such as France the US, Germany and a few other nations that do not have a Monarchy.

The British Monarchy costs just £35 million a year plus the cost of protection which costs just 65p per working person in the UK. As we have seen that 35 million is given back from the £450 million a year that the crown estates pay in tax in other words the Queen paying tax on her investments held in her name by the Crown Estate Commissioners.

Let's look at France.

France is a Republic as such Frances head of State is a President. Due to the abolishment of France's Monarchy in the French Revolution there is no royal estates. The President of France, whose role is very similar to that of Her Majesty, it costs the French taxpayers a whopping £91 million. For the privilege of paying almost three times as much as the UK, France gets to forgo the pageantry and ceremonies, engagements and grand receptions that come with Monarchy, and they get a politician too.

The total cost works out at £1.43 per person in France. Still a good deal?

A little further south and we find the Italian Republic. Its president performs almost exactly the same constitutional function as The Queen, bar a few political powers, It costs the Italians £181.5m per year! That’s £3.08 for every Italian! Yet again, no pageantry, no state celebrations and no apolitical, uniting national figure in their leader either.

Coming in almost identical in cost with the British Monarchy is the Polish presidency,costing the Polish people £34 million a year. Giving extra consideration to the smaller population of Poland and comparing once again to the British Monarchy, costing a fraction more, it’s clear where the value for money lies once again.

Additionally, if one were to go down the route of an executive president, the figures can reach eye-watering sums, with the estimated cost of the American presidency reportedly going into billions, it’s no surprise this is the model British republicans try to distance themselves from.

Judging by these figures it appears that some of the most similar countries to the UK are actually paying all the costs they would for a Monarchy (and then some), without actually having the colour, spectacle and other benefits that comes with one! Indeed, there is a fascination with the British Monarchy in many republics around the world. 9.9m German tuning into the Royal Wedding of Prince William in 2011 is just one example of this, yet they still pay over £30m for their own presidency (which, interestingly, there’s a push by some to abolish). They also like the Americans have to pay for their past Presidents. The Germans pay £4.8m per year to their past Presidents.

Each former US president receives the same salary as a current member of the Presidential Cabinet. For 2017, the amount was $207,800 per year. This number does not take into account the extras the former leader is entitled to including payroll for office staff and free postage for life. The former president is granted a host of benefits that often add up to more than the pension payment itself. For example, ex-presidents are allowed office space and communications systems paid for by taxpayers. Fiscal year 2018 budget requests for the former presidents include $536,000 for office space for former President Barack Obama and $68,000 for travel for George H.W. Bush. Should the former president be survived by a spouse, the spouse is granted a pension of $20,000 for life, as well as a free postage benefit. On top of all these pension payments and benefits come the expenses involved with the personal protection of each former president and his family. In total the amount spent on a former president can reach into the millions of dollars per year. In 2015, former president Jimmy Carter accounted for over $200,000 in additional costs while expenses for George W. Bush reached $800,000. Budget requests for former President Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama in 2018 exceed $1 million each, including pension costs.

There’s one other benefit of Monarchy that THE uk enjoys too, and it’s one republicans will dismiss at the first opportunity. That’s its economic benefit. They would of course say there isn’t one. I’m telling you, however, as a matter of fact, that there is. For the following, I’ve carefully selected my evidence, owing to republicans’ insatiable desire to point out that a lot of the documentary evidence about the economic benefit of Monarchy are predictions rather than post-event measurements.

The birth of Prince George, a new future heir to the throne, back in 2013 was a cause for great national celebration. It was also a cause for great economic celebration as the birth of the Prince causedan extra £247 million to be injected into the British economy from everything from royal baby themed merchandise to extra consumption of food and alcohol to celebrate the occasion.

Its estimated that the British Monarchy brings in a £2 billion a year in turist trade. Take a visit to London and look in the many gift shops around Westminster and you will see merchandise attributed to the Monarchy where willing tourists from all over the world can be seen buying mugs with the faces of the Queen and her family imprinted on them, pens with the same books about the Queen, books about Charles, William, Harry. The late Princess Diana, small flags with the emblem and crest of the Royal family and many many more items. Tourists flock to London to try and catch a glimpse of the Queen or one of the Royal family they all have to be put up in hotels and other establishments which costs a small fortune in the Capital.

When you look at the cost in the cold light of day and have the evidence in front of your eyes. We British get a very good deal indead for having a Monarchy.

Will it last I think it will. When the present monarch dies Charles will become King. He is 70 years of age that means he might be king for just 20 years depending of course when his mother dies and how long he lives. When Charles dies we have a more modern man who will become King. Prince William who is will be around 50 years of age when he becomes King.

William is a man of the people. He understands what people want in life. He will be a good king like his Grandmother was a good Queen. We will survive Charles pedantic ways. He is slowly changing his attitude. He, at last is being dragged perhaps kicking and screaming into a modern world.

It's going to be an interesting next 50 years, a mear blink of an eye in the previous 12/15 hundred years of the English then British Monarchy.

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Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.