The Queen and the Royal Family cost the taxpayer 62p per person - a drop of 7p...I gleaned this information from a report in the Daily Telegraph. I don't know why the Royal Family costs us anything. It's not like they need 62p more than I do. I can only guess at how rich the Queen is, but I think with some judicious sales of assets and better investment advice she could probably plug the £7.9 million gap in funding which British taxpayers provide for the Civil List. In any case, do we agree that we need everything that is paid for from the Civil List? Wikipedia says it covers
some expenses associated with the Sovereign performing his or her state duties, including those for staffing, state visits, public engagements, ceremonial functions and the upkeep of the Royal Households.And, besides the Civil List, the Royal Family get further money from the state:
The cost of transport and security for the Royal Family, together with property maintenance and other sundry expenses, are covered by separate grants from individual Government Departments.With everything else I do, I don't have time to be a boned-up republican, but I shall certainly spend time this year paying more attention to this area of national life.
It's not the angle I would choose to moan about, but the Daily Telegraph today has a story about business worries that the Royal wedding on Friday 29 April will cost the country £6 billion in lost productivity, as workers enjoy extra holidays. Only £1 billion will be generated by additional tourism and sales of commemorative knick-knacks.
And then we have to go through the whole rigmarole again, to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, in 2012. David Cameron couldn't ask for a more timely gift.
I remember the Golden Jubilee in 2002. People made a great fuss of the Queen allowing pop stars to posture on the roof of Buckingham Palace and the projection of pictures onto the front of the building. The whole thing was really tacky and didn't cost her a thing, except in lost dignity - which mostly went years ago. In return, she and her brood get to live the life they love and play a murky constitutional role upholding the power of the super-rich in this country and around the world.
Oh, yes, and hold a cherished place in the hearts of most of the citizens of the UK and many further afield.
For years, naturally, I was one of those loyal subjects. The first thing I saw on television (the set belonged to a woman my mother cleaned for in Finchley) was the investiture of Prince Charles in 1969.
When they got married in 1973 I had a poster of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips on my bedroom wall.
In 1977 a friend and I celebrated the Queen's Silver Jubilee with a tea party for our toys.
In 1981, when Diana and Charles wed, I was on an archaeological dig in Gloucestershire run by republicans. My friends and I smuggled a radio in to listen to the wedding in secret. I was in London on the day in 1986 when Fergie and Andrew married and I actually waved at her carriage - shameful!
And, the thing I feel most ambivalent about, I was sad when Diana died in 1997, and went for a morose walk around Peckham Rye to share in the general mourning. (A dark period in my life in many respects.)
And now? I still feel that tug on my emotions; I still worry that there is something puritanical and miserabilist about thinking that I'd rather my 62p a year were spent on maintaining our public services. Or that the relationship of Wills and Kate ought to affect me not at all. Or that the Queen and her family should give up all their wealth in order to live like normal folk. They could donate it all to meeting some of the needs of the desperately poor around the world, like the people of Togo being treated by the Africa Mercy medical ship I saw on a television programme the other night.
It's shaping up to be a year for resisting those sort of sentimental pressures and cleaving to what you think is right.