I was very happy to see that the majority of Scots want a referendum on keeping the monarchy after an independence vote.
I was also happy to see the continuation of the general trend that things that seem to worry the Daily Express make me quite happy. I’ll let go the slightly weighted headline of the story for the moment in favour of saying simply that for some inexplicable reason I was particularly amused by this line…
“…our poll shows that repeated demands for an independent Scotland to become a republic have obviously shaken confidence in the Windsors north of the Border“.
It gave me a visual image of people walking around visibly distressed because they were no longer confident that the monarchy were fulfilling their role.
And that will be the point of this little series – to take a look at what the hell their role is supposed to be, and can it be justified in the modern age?
I’ll try to do it point by point and I’ll start with an easy one that we’ve all heard and it is…
“They bring in tourists”
We can start therefore, by looking at the top 20 list of most visited countries in the world…
I won’t bore you with the details but that equates to a 15/5 or 14/6 split in favour of NOT having a monarchy, depending where you put Canada. None out of the top 3 and only one out of the top 6 have a monarch – and he is an arsehole.
That however, is just a very simplistic point and doesn’t take in reasons, so I’d just like to take a couple of examples from around the world.
Various monarchists have suggested that the monarchy brings £500 million in tourist money to the UK every year (not a lot of that would ever reach Scotland and that’s another important point, but not for today). Are they really suggesting that France, the USA and China would be doing £500 million more if they still had a monarchy to push up the figures?
Of course they aren’t, that would be absurd. Would you decide not to go to the Great Wall of China because the dynasty that built it is over? Would you decide not to go to the Taj Mahal because the Mughal Empire is over?
No, they are silly arguments, but arguments that nonetheless help to illuminate the sleight of hand being employed here.
When this figure of £500 million is worked out, it is calculated using funds generated by all the buildings currently owned by the crown, and this shows a major flaw in the logic – would people stop going to Buckingham Palace if there was no monarchy? What if it became a museum? The Louvre is the most popular museum in the world these days. Did you know it used to be the property of the French Monarchy? Did everyone stop going when it became public?
The “brings in tourism” argument is flaky at best and in itself tourism is no reason for the continuation of an anachronistic system that tries to hide the fact that it’s unelected heads are still meddling in its governance.