Republicanism is an issue that often tends to unite libertarians and socialists alike. Yet as an anarcho-capitalist I cannot bring myself to share this passionate hatred for an institution which is so quaint and benign in our country. I often think that if all British republicans shared the same feelings towards government as they did towards the monarchy this country might be a better place. In actual fact, the monarchy is not only harmless but is in many ways as much a victim of the state as the rest of us.
Firstly there’s the obvious fact that a constitutional monarchy does not in practice have any power over us. Although the Queen has the power to block laws, if she ever exercised this right there would quite understandably be uproar in the country; this instance hasn’t occurred since 1708 and I would fairly confidently place a large amount of money on it never happening again. The power does serve as a useful safeguard against a tyrannical government – in fact, if Elizabeth would block a few more state laws (all of them perhaps?) the UK would probably be better off for it. The government, which actively controls, steals and aggresses against us, is where the libertarian’s anger should be directed towards, not a harmless old lady who has never drawn up a tax in her life.
Ah, but the argument goes, don’t the Royal family voluntarily live off taxpayer’s money – much like benefit claimants? Well, actually, no. The Royal family’s allowance is calculated as a percentage of the revenue of the Crown Estate, which is essentially their private land. In the financial year 2007-8, the Crown Estate produced £200 million. This is taken by the state and a small sum is given back, which this year amounted to £31 million. This is 18.05%, making taxes on the Royal family stand at 81.95%. Unless you believe that the Crown Estate’s (or any) income should automatically go to government – to which I may humbly suggest that you may not be an anarcho-capitalist at the very least – then this actually makes the Royal family taxpayers at around the same rate as the richest were before Margaret Thatcher.
Now, this argument naturally only stands if you believe that the Crown Estate should rightfully belong to the Windsor family. There are two fairly compelling reasons to suggest that this may not be the case; firstly that the Royal family may secretly be reptiles and thus ineligible to hold property, secondly that their property was acquired by the use of force and therefore cannot rightfully be theirs. I will dismiss the first until better evidence has been put forward, but the second one certainly has some merit. Indeed, the Crown Estates were taken by force and should this have happened in the present day or even recent memory the monarchy would be getting no defence from me; the Windsors would be no different to the government or common criminal. However, many non-royal aristocratic lands were originally taken by the same unjust use of force. We could, of course, go around seizing these lands off of people and offering them up for homesteading, but this action seems impractical and ultimately, quite pointless. If there is nobody alive to rightfully claim these lands back, I see no point in punishing families for the actions of their distant ancestors. There has to be some kind of statute of limitation on punishment, and I would say that a few hundred years is perfectly fair. As anarcho-capitalists we have to be practical; just as we would not be locking up our neighbours next door for having a cigarette and introducing toxic fumes that aggress against us into the atmosphere, we should equally not be going around yoinking land off people because their distant ancestors acquired it unjustly many centuries ago.
Of course, this is where our defence of monarchy has to end. Naturally I am not in favour of the Queen being head of the state, because I don’t believe there should be a state to be a head of. I simply believe that the Queen and her family should be allowed to live peacefully off of the revenue of their own lands in an anarchist society. Many Brits may still follow the lives of the Royal family and consider themselves ‘subjects’; many may not. Voluntary association at its finest. Mind you, any more invading other people’s land and it’s straight to the Tower of London with you, Queenie.