Does Anybody Really Care About The Royal Jaunt?

Get passed the media fawning, and it’s difficult to see what all the fuss is about.

The media has been in a frenzy over the Royal tour of New Zealand and Australia this month. Morning, lunchtime and evening news bulletins have been filled with gushing segments on Wills, Kate and baby George’s trip to the Commonwealth states. But do the public really care about the Duchess struggling on the beach in wedges, or what toy Prince George didn’t like to play with?

Online sources have also been filled with Royal hysteria and every day each new report brings more irrelevant information; what animals George saw at the zoo or Kate pulling silly faces at someone’s child in the crowd.  Kate’s outfits are yet again a focal point at every visit, a twitter search of “royal tour” comes up with endless articles about the “Duchess’s style and fashion” and her “best looks from the tour.” One website even letting you rate or slate her outfit of choice for each day, charming.

Elsewhere in the world a brutal civil war is being waged in Syria, Russia is flexing its military muscles in Ukraine and hundreds are still missing from a sunken cruise ship in South Korea. Whilst back in the UK The Trussell Trust, Britain’s biggest food bank charity, has said it has given out 913,000 food parcels in the last year, 347,000 more from the previous year.  It seems bizarre that the media deem the Cambridge’s jolly down under as news worthy in comparison.

It cannot be doubted the Royal family do bring in revenue through tourism to the UK and this tour will boost the Royal image abroad to some extent, but the actual figures speak for themselves. According to the Guardian visitors to Buckingham Palace only brought in £9.3 million in 2012, whereas the Telegraph reported that the total Royal expenditure for the 2012/13 financial year amounted to £33.3 million. The Duke and Duchess’s tour of south east Asia and the South Pacific last summer cost almost £370,000 to the British taxpayer, but did Britain really benefit from this exotic Royal holiday?

The BBC has commented on the Royal couple being treated like “celebrities” and the trip has been a “royal love-fest.” But reports from theNew Zealand Herald and Australia’s One News both contradict this assumption with anguish over the tour costing $100,000 a day to host the couple. Who is really benefiting from these expensive royal excursions? Britain, the host country or the royal couple who have spent time in aluxury lodge in New Zealand which cost £207 per person per night?

Is this not a classic example of the Kings New Clothes? The media continues to tell us how fabulous the royal family are and babble about the great things they are doing for the Britain at home and abroad. Whilst at the same time Princess Anne wants to controversially “gas all the badgers” and the Queen and Prince Charles still are still asked for consent on numerous government bills, exercising the power of veto at their discretion. Why are these unelected individuals still exerting power over our democratic society? As Peter Hitchens said on Question Time “Thank Heaven we are not a democracy.”

But what does the British public really think of the royals? Numerous opinion polls from before the Jubilee in June 2012 demonstrate a high level of support for the monarchy, with 73-82% supporting keeping the monarchy and 76-86% thinking the Queen has done a good job. But admiration is not universal for the Windsor’s, 40-48% think the throne should be passed to Prince William after the Queen dies and skip Prince Charles altogether. Surely this indicates how William’s modern, celebrity style media status has boosted his popularity, compared to his father who is often perceived badly in the press.

A ComRes poll in 2013 revealed 56% of 18-24 year olds polled disagreed that the Royal family is worth the cost, could this be a sign that Royal popularity will diminish with time? For now the media looks set to continue bombarding the public with cooing front page splashes of baby George’s facial expressions and hysteria over Kate’s latest high street dresses. But try to remember that in 2013 the royals spent £200,000 on train service, £2.7m on helicopter maintenance, £2.1m on utility bills, £1.4m on food and drink and £500,000 on printing, postage and stationary. I wonder how many pens you could buy with £500,000?


  1. You clearly cared enough to write this lengthy article about how much you don’t care…so, yeah, clearly it does matter on some level otherwise it wouldn’t irritate republicans so mightily.

    Several observations. Firstly, it is perfectly possible for the print and broadcast media to cover more than one story at a time. The civil war in Syria, the Russian shenanigans in the Ukraine and the South Korean cruise ship didn’t all stop happening because of the royal visit but, then, nor did reporting on the royal visit mean those things went unreported. I’ve just nipped onto the BBC website and their top story is the current situation in the Ukraine. Sky’s top story is children carrying weapons in schools. Both news outlets, incidentally, are running as their second runner-up story – the sacking of some football chappie by the name of Moyes. So, please, do get over yourself. As for food banks – I refer you to the “Backbencher” article by your colleague Old Holborn.

    This story doesn’t matter, you tell us, yet you seem to have expended some effort in playing around with some concocted numbers. Buckingham Palace only brought in £9m but the Queen costs £33.3m? Wow. I guess that’d be quite a scoop…if visitors to Buckingham Palace were the ONLY source of income and the hereditary royal revenues of the Crown Estate didn’t yield £240.2m, the bulk of which goes to the Exchequer for the benefit of taxpayers, whilst 15% goes to the monarch in the form of the Sovereign Grant to cover the Queen’s expenses as Head of State.

    Oh, I do just want to quickly pull you up on one of the latest entirely untrue republican canards that I’m seeing regularly trotted out. The Queen and the Prince of Wales do not enjoy a royal “veto” that they can use “at their discretion”. Queen’s and Prince’s Consent is a parliamentary mechanism and, like most royal prerogatives, is only exercised on the basis of ministerial advice. It is not used at the individual discretion of the Sovereign or the Prince of Wales but is only withheld when the Gov’t formally advise that consent be withheld.

    Republicans have confidently been predicting diminishing support for the monarchy for generations now. Yet British republicanism remains singularly the most consistently unsuccessful movement in history. Long may it remain so.

    • haha evidently you’re a royals fan eh….to be fair i wouldn’t even say i would want to get rid of the royal family. i just think the endless reports about their pointless foreign excursions is ridiculous and that taxpayers money can be spent in a lot better ways than helicopter maintenance. also if you click on the hyperlinks you’ll see i don’t just have concocted numbers, they come from official sources. how can you still support a mechanism of government where the monarch can technically override the elected people?? its just archaic. and also prince Charles does sign off on any bills which will directly affect the royal family, I’d say that is a pretty large hinderance to democracy….

      • I am, like most of the population, a monarchist, yes.

        Why do you suppose the Foreign Office send them on all these jaunts, unless they ultimately benefit British interests? Do you really think it’s just borne out of an obsessive need by FCO mandarins to provide the Windsors with free holidays? No, it’s because these visits cement relations, build alliances and grease the wheels of international diplomacy. Indeed, one of the great shames of the last century was that HMY Britannia was scrapped and never replaced. More vital diplomatic work was done aboard a single dinner aboard the royal yacht than all the international summits and conferences the Diplomatic Corps can muster.

        That the lighthearted reports of the Cambridges comings and goings in the Antipodes, and footage of a little baby being all squidgy and cute, are irksome to you says rather more about you – and the mean-spiritedness of republicans generally – than it does about the state of British journalism.

        I generally find arguments that revolve around the alleged ‘cost’ of this that and the other are the last refuge of the scoundrel. It’s a straw man. Presumably, it would be just as expensive – if not more so – to send a team of MPs or diplomats to undertake a foreign trip that would receive almost no coverage whatsoever!

        Your numbers were concocted insofar as they were partial and incomplete and you connived to cobble them together to present an image of a monarchy that costs a lot more money than it brings in when, in reality, the opposite is true.

        Finally, to answer your question as to how I can continue to support the mechanism of monarchy, the answer is simple. It’s tried and tested. The monarch is the ultimate guarantor of our ancient rights and liberties, providing a check on elected politicians. I note with interest your strategic deployment of the word ‘technically’. She can ‘technically’ override the elected people. Indeed, She can. But, generally, She doesn’t. Still, I personally find it comforting to know that, should a Gov’t one day decide to indefinitely prolong its life without calling a General Election or should someone attempt to install a military dictatorship, the Queen is there to withhold her consent if needs be. Anyone who thinks such a mechanism is unnecessary clearly has more faith in elected politicians than I would have though recent parliamentary history would cause to be placed in them.

        Oh, and NO, the Prince DOESN’T ‘sign off’ on Bills affecting the Royal Family. The Prince is consulted, as a matter of course, on any Bills relating to the interests of the Duchy of Cornwall and his consent is withheld only if he receives ministerial advice advising him to withhold it. I can find no example of Prince’s Consent being refused in living memory and only three occasions in the last two and a half decades in which Queen’s Consent has been withheld (on all three occasions, on the advice of the Gov’t). The idea this is a “pretty large hinderance [sic] to democracy” is just facile tosh.


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