For those of us who live in Republics - or just like the efficiency of a guillotine in the kitchen - there comes a time when the cost, if not the ethics, of having a royal family comes to mind. Having a lot of castles and horses and banqueting rooms costs a lot to run and there are moments when the average person is looking at their energy bill and thinking ‘can I heat, eat and have a Queen too?’.
A report in 2019 revealed that Queen Elizabeth II and her family cost the British people £67m during the previous year. In mid-2019, the population of the UK reached an estimated 66.8 million, which is all very convenient in terms of maths. So the royals cost every one of us around £1 per year. You’re picking up the tab for the non taxpayers, by the way.
But are we getting good value for that pound? Depending on your appetite for gossip, pretty much. The traditional argument put forward is that they attract overseas visitors. When Prince William married Kate Middleton in April 2011, the UK’s Association of Leading Visitor Attractions claimed it led to an additional 600,000 people come to London for the weekend, 60% from UK, 40% from overseas, spending £107m. So they more than covered their costs that year.
But then Versailles gets over 10 million visits per year, 80% of whom have come from overseas. And the security detail is significantly cheaper than the royal family because, well, the accidents have already happened.
But the good news is that this year and for the next month, the debate will be off. The Jubilee means bank holidays on top of May’s already Monday-free timetable, alongside a strong chance that the weather will be good.
All in all, after a disappointing Spring Statement, this is just the fillip the sector needs. If only we could all be King for a day and spread it out all year.