The political pandemic that plagues our democracy

How the Monarchy handled the COVID-19 pandemic

Photo: WPA Pool Getty Images

Let’s face it; we are far from the United Kingdom. 2020 was a year plagued by indecisiveness, division and isolation. Like most societies, in times of crisis, we always turn to our leadership for support during times of need. However, whatever side of the political spectrum you lean, I think we can all compromise and agree on the statement that there were a lot of decisions last year that should not have been made. Whether we question the time it took our government to enforce a lockdown back in March, or argue that we should not have been taken out of lockdown so soon, we can agree that there were some blatant public spending missteps. For example, Boris Johnson shouldn’t have spent £900,000 of taxpayer money on repainting his plane.

Despite this, there is one part of the leadership and public spending in this country that I find that failed us miserably not only in the last year, but has been for centuries. I’m talking of course about Britain’s favourite fetish, the monarchy. The British monarchy is estimated to be worth over £70 billion with the UK taxpayers granting them £67 million of that between 2018-2019. Whilst the monarchy seemingly have been getting away with this for centuries relatively unquestioned, I cannot see a better time than now than to ask the question. Why do we still have a monarchy? Last year, the United Kingdom was pushed to its limits. Over 90,000 people have died from COVID-19, the NHS moved into its highest alert level and UNICEF launched a domestic emergency response to help feed children in London. Whilst the nation was starving, suffering and dying, our queen and her family bunkered down in their palaces of luxury that we paid for and waited for it all to blow over. I hope the queen remembers her own words when she said in her patronising speech to the nation ‘I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge’. Will she be able to take pride in how she responded to the challenge? Whilst the nation had to make sacrifices, they were merely inconvenienced by the halting of their £369 million renovations of Buckingham Palace. It is often quite a harsh taboo in this country to question the existence of the monarchy. The fact remains that it is still technically illegal to want to abolish the monarchy under the Treason Felony Act of 1848. 

However, it cannot be ignored that they did nothing to help us as citizens of their nation and it has never been clearer that the continued institution of the monarchy is an insult to equality and progressive thinking. The fact is that in 2021, we have in our country a ruler that is undemocratically elected, that cannot legally be challenged and has a system of funding that cannot be opted out from. This is a disease that plagues our democracy. It borders upon being insultingly hilarious how little the monarchy is questioned or criticised by the general public or the media. 

Photo: News Licensing / MEGA

This in conjunction with the revelations of the Paradise Papers, the suppressed links the Winsor family had to the Nazi regime and the Prince Andrew connections to Jeffrey Epstein make for an interesting accumulation of issues.  This all seemingly begs the question that a conversation as to the relevancy of maintaining the monarchy is needed sooner rather than later. They are the embodiment of the reverse Robin Hood; taking from the poor and giving it to themselves. The fact that we live under such a system that masks political influence, unchallengeable power and a clear lack of a connection to their kingdom by the grandeur and the odd public appearance is a disgrace to our nation. 

We have made great strides this year towards equality in Britain. The Black Lives Matter movement helped spread awareness of racial inequality throughout the western world. Furthermore, in Britain, we all rallied behind food banks making charitable donations and signed petitions against the government's initial refusal to provide free school meals during half term. This shows a clear precedent for how we as the British people no longer idly wait for our government to make changes, nor will we remain compliant to failures by our supposed superiors. Rather, we are willing to take our destiny into our hands and force the changes we want to occur. However, I do not see a path to true equality amongst the citizens of our nation unless the unelected system of the monarchy is not challenged. They are the echoes of our past and maintained by attaching it onto the imagined reality of our national identity which ultimately wastes vital public spending funds on luxuries that benefit no one but the already extremely wealthy. They are the blistering example that people can be born better than others in a time where we should be striving towards greater equality for all. I am not arguing that if we did not have the monarchy the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic would not have been as severe. Rather, the lack of empathy and support our ‘royal’ family gave to the citizens of our nation is another precedent in the long line of them for the questioning of their continued funding and place of power.

In addition to this, I am not arguing that this is the most pressing issue of our time. Many other worthwhile causes deserve our undivided attention amid a global pandemic that has hit our country at its core. However, I do see this as a hurdle that must be tackled someday soon. We cannot continue to strive for equality and unity without tackling the institution that personifies everything we are fighting against. We are after all, history writing itself and I believe we can no longer let such an institution go unchallenged and unquestioned.

Article by Luke Croft-Faulkner

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