by Ari Rutenberg
Every year, the British Royal Family reports their income and expenditures publicly. And every year when that happens their are cries of "their stealing our taxes" and such from all corners of the UK. Even the vaunted BBC, which I generally have a lot of respect for, has not once pointed out the fundamental fallacy of this particular criticism.
In a recent article called 'Royals 'cost the taxpayer £40m'' the BBC reported that the total cost of the Civil List, property allowances, and other disbursements to the Royal family were on the order of £40m in 2007. They then went on to quote a member of a group called Republic which advocates abolishing the monarchy (which is a legitimate point of view) discussing his views on the matter. The problem is that the BBC, as do almost all other news organizations, reported uncritically that "as Britons were being told to tighten their belts because of the credit crunch, "the Windsor family digs deeper into the taxpayers' pockets"." This is simply wrong. Under a 250 year old arrangement the Royal family transfers its income from the Crown Estate to HM Treasury every year, from which the Civil List and other official expenses, like repairing the roof at Windsor Castle which the government would pay for even if the monarchy was abolished, are then drawn. In 2006, according to HM Treasury, the Crown Estate transferred about £190 million. This means that the Royal family is actually a net contributor to the tune of £150 million per year. And please keep in mind that if this arrangement did not exist, the Royals would keep their whole £190 million. That means it would actually cost the taxpayer to stop paying the Civil List.
This is not to say I have a contention with those who believe the British Monarchy should be abolished, though at this point I'm not sure a republic is any better. But it really bothers me that just to make snide political point and justify complaints from all sides, no one ever reports this story accurately. It would be nice if just once in a while people would take time off being indignant at the sum of money given and look at the whole picture.