As people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain mourn their beloved queen, many are aware of the fact that the state funeral planned for September 19 at Westminster Abbey will wipe out 9 million dollars from the British taxpayers’ pockets. If high inflation and soaring energy prices weren’t urgent matters to deal with, the two-week-old Liz Truss government has been repeatedly warned by the Bank of England that the country is heading towards a long recession early next year.
The current economic weather of the country weakened its GDP in July and is likely to drop further in September due to a bank holiday for the Queen’s funeral. Economists say that public money spent on vigils, rituals and elaborate processions of the Queen could result in a technical recession as early as next month.
The Pomp Doesn’t Match Ground Reality
A monarchy that over the years has been stripped of all its powers thrives solely on the idea of binding Britons together. The same ideology now threatens to worsen the country’s economic crisis. Just like this one, state funerals are an expensive public affair and most often British taxpayers have little or no idea about the exact expenditure. Few examples could serve as a great reminder of how the country’s urgent economic interventions are taking a backseat. According to a report submitted in the House of Commons, in 2002, Queen Mother’s funeral cost around £5.4 million, while Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997 was between £3 million and £5 million.
The news of the Queen’s deteriorating health and subsequent death came as a rude shock when Britain’s parliamentarians were debating the energy crisis and UK’s stagnant economy in the House of Commons. Last month, 89 per cent of adults in Great Britain reported an increase in cost of living. The annual inflation rate was the highest it has ever been in the last four decades, corroding money that was supposed to be spent on goods and services.
The new Prime minister (third one to be elected in the last four years) is expected to address pressing issues like domestic gas prices increasing by 96 per cent and domestic electricity prices by 54 per cent. Liz Truss’ energy bailout package is set to cost a hundred and fifty billion pounds of taxpayers’ money and roughly 7 per cent of Britain’s GDP.
While the country gears up for an extravaganza and willingly empties its coffers for this grand event, more than 2 million adults in the UK were without food for a whole day just a few months ago. The number of people struggling to buy food has gone up by 57 per cent, one in seven households either cut back on food or skipped meals.
Queen’s Mourners Are Confused
Britain continues to be divided between two groups, one that pours immense affection for the Windsors and the other which demands that monarchy should be abolished. Some mourners were pink-eyed, others brought beer waiting for more urgent issues to take center stage on telly. Last year, the Royal family cost the British people £102.4 million, and as the lengthy period of mourning goes on, £34.5 million is being spent on reservicing Buckingham Palace alone.
This is the royal expenditure of a country where more than 14.5 million people (more than 22 per cent UK population) are living in poverty. To make matters worse, child poverty is on the rise too, almost one in three (roughly 31 per cent of children in the UK) are living in poverty.
‘Monarchy Is A Holiday From Rationality’
Let’s not forget, King Charles III will pay zero euros on whatever he inherits from his mother and neither will his siblings. With little to no reforms in sight, opaque financial arrangements between the British government and the Royal family, allows the Windsors to avail huge tax advantages till date. Moreover, the Sovereign Grant report (money the palace receives from the government) revealed that the royal expenditure rose by 17 per cent compared to the previous fiscal year and £1.29 per British taxpayer still funds brand monarchy.
In this dire economic crisis, PM Lizz Truss will have to decide as to who deserves these bizarre financial, legal and constitutional privileges. The average British taxpayer who is struggling to make ends meet or the centuries-long theatre of Britain’s monarchy?
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