British Royal Family – Value for Money? I Think Not
SGUK Ep 118
Hello everyone. Welcome. I just wanted to say here that this podcast and article was written and uploaded ready to be published next Sunday, however, because of recent developments I felt that I needed to make a few amendments here and there, and add an extra section in this Introduction and also in my closing remarks at the end of the podcast, due to the news release regarding the health of King Charles, and Kate the Princess of Wales and as if to add to this unfolding tale of health woes, William the Prince of Wales appears to have questionable health too. With that in mind, I wanted to change my wording here and there, but my concerns about behaviours and topics remain unchanged. I wanted to lighten my descriptions of certain things out of respect for all those concerned and family members who may be worried in their position as a family member as opposed to their position in The Firm. That being said, these very issues heighten and strengthen my observations relating to Value for Money in terms of any Monarchy, and it can only deteriorate over the next decade or so in the UK.
How can we measure Value for Money?
There are four key terms that are used by agencies in defining VFM (Economy, Efficiency, Effectiveness and Equity). Here is a definition of each term: as stated on the website of Better Evaluation. You will see these 4 headings of similar, when it comes to giving a framework to describe how to arrive at VFM. Better Evaluation organisation is one of many. The full details of their assessment and measuring tools are listed in the Reference Sources.
Value for money development should be economic: inputs have been procured at the least cost for the relevant level of quality.
Value for money development should be efficient: Some define efficiency as the value of outcomes in relation to the total cost of inputs.
Value for money development should be effective: achieving program outcomes in relation to the total cost of inputs (sometimes equity considerations are factored in here).
Value for money development should be equitable: ensuring that benefits are distributed fairly. It is important to note that not all agencies use all terms
Financial Reports 2022/3– Taken from the Royal Family website
The key financial details reported today are:
- The total Sovereign Grant for 2022-23, amounted to £86.3 million (2021-22: £86.3 million), which is made up of a core grant of £51.8 million which funds official travel, property maintenance and the operating costs of The Sovereign’s household. The core grant equates to 77p per person in the UK.
- The Sovereign Grant for 2022-23 includes an additional dedicated amount for Reservicing of £34.5 million.
- The total Sovereign Grant for 2022-23 of £86.3 million, which remains unchanged from last year is equivalent to £1.29 per person in the UK.
- Income earned to supplement the Sovereign Grant was £9.8 million, a decrease of 1% from £9.9 million (2021-22). The figure is less than 50% of pre-pandemic levels.
- Official expenditure was more than the Sovereign Grant and the supplementary income earned, with net expenditure of £107.5 million, a 5% increase on the previous year due to significant work relating to the Reservicing of Buckingham Palace and the costs associated with the change of Reign, as well as the impact of the Consumer Price Index rising by 10.1%.
- These costs saw the Sovereign Grant reserve reduce by £20.7 million in the year 2022-23.
Other details in the 2022-23 report include:
- Members of the Royal Family undertook over 2,700 engagements across the United Kingdom and overseas, with Their Majesties travelling to Germany for the first State Visit of The King’s reign.
- Over 95,000 guests were welcomed to the Official Residences in recognition for their contribution to society, attending over 330 events including Receptions, Investitures and Garden Parties.
- Targeted initiatives across the Occupied Royal Palaces have resulted in a 19% decrease in natural gas and heating emissions.
- The Reservicing Programme continued at pace at Buckingham Palace, which has played a central role in the events of the last twelve months. Significant work that has been completed includes key operational spaces in the West Wing and the West Gallery, as well as two new lift shafts and guest WCs in the East Wing, which will help make the Palace more accessible.
- 2022-23 marked the busiest year on record for incoming post, with Buckingham Palace receiving 183,207 items of correspondence.
Reflecting on the year 2022-23, the Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Michael Stevens, said:
“The year covered in today’s report represents an exceptional period of transition for the Royal Household. As we look back on those twelve months, we reflect on how the nation came together to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June, and to mourn Her Late Majesty in September while marking the Accession of The King, as well as the months of preparation leading up to Their Majesties’ Coronation.
“In addition to these historically significant moments, this year saw the return of many events that had been missing from the calendar throughout the pandemic, including Garden Parties, Maundy, Garter, and of course the first inward and outward State Visits of The King’s reign. More widely, the Household has adjusted to supporting the full and busy programmes of Their Majesties, following a period during which in-person engagements were not possible.
“Like other organisations, the Royal Household has not been immune to the impacts of the joint challenges of the pandemic and inflationary pressures, which have resulted in a flat Sovereign Grant. The figure for the year remained unchanged at £86.3 million, with a significant proportion funding the Reservicing of Buckingham Palace, which is now in its seventh year. This figure will remain unchanged at £86.3 million for the year 2023-24.”
1) The Sovereign Grant Act 2011 came into effect from 1 April 2012 and consolidated the funding provided to support the official duties of The Sovereign and maintain the Occupied Royal Palaces. Until 31 March 2012, funding had been provided under the Civil List and the Grants-in-aid for the Maintenance of the Occupied Royal Palaces, Royal Travel and Communications and Information.
2) The Sovereign’s official expenditure is met from public funds in exchange for the surrender by The Sovereign of the revenue from the Crown Estate. The core Sovereign Grant is calculated based on 15% of the income account net surplus of the Crown Estate for the financial year two years previous. The Crown Estate surplus for the financial year 2020-21 amounted to £269.3 million, thereby producing a core Sovereign Grant of £51.8 million for 2022-23.
3) In November 2016 the Royal Trustees agreed that from 2017-18, the Sovereign Grant would be calculated based on 25% of the income account net surplus of the Crown Estate for the financial year two years previous, with the additional 10% to be used to fund the Reservicing of Buckingham Palace over a period of ten years. This recommendation was approved by Parliament in March 2017.
How much money does the monarchy bring to the UK? Some £1.7bn a year…
Criticism and praise for the monarchy has heightened following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Her funeral cost UK taxpayers millions, but the royal institution brings in far greater sums each year.
After 70 years of reign, the death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8th September 2022 has generated considerable public interest and has reignited debates on the value of the monarchy. This podcast looks at the impact of the royal family on UK including tourism.
Some of the reference sources refer to combined work on Royal Tourism we have noted direct, explicit and indirect, implicit relationships between royalty and tourism in contemporary and historic UK and international contexts. Whilst one reference source has acknowledged symbolic and cultural functions of monarchies, they have observed difficulties in fully grasping the extent of the UK monarchy’s economic influence due to the multifarious nature of their influence on society. Additionally, we have highlighted how problematic it is to rigorously measure the economic impact of tourism. Recent attempts to measure the size of the impact of the royal family on UK tourism have estimated the capital value of UK monarchy as a business to be £67.5 billion (up from £44 billion in 2012) and the annual contribution to the UK economy to be £1.766 billion. These estimates included indirect economic effects on tourism, trade, media and arts.
Number of admissions to the Royal Estate in the United Kingdom (UK) from 2019 to 2023, by establishment
Tourism in France
Tourism in France directly contributed 79.8 billion euros to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, 30% of which comes from international visitors and 70% from domestic tourism spending. The total contribution of travel and tourism represents 9.7% of GDP and supports 2.9 million jobs (10.9% of employment) in the country. Tourism contributes significantly to the balance of payments.
France has 45 sites inscribed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List and features cities or sites of high cultural interest (Paris being the foremost, but also Loire Valley, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon and others), beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, as well as rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquility (green tourism). Small and picturesque French villages of quality heritage (such as Collonges-la-Rouge, Locronan, or Montsoreau) are promoted through the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (literally “The Most Beautiful Villages of France”). The “Remarkable Gardens” label is a list of the over two hundred gardens classified by the Ministry of Culture. This label is intended to protect and promote remarkable gardens and parks.
Most tourists arriving to France in 2018 came from the following countries or territories:
In 2019, tourists from the following countries spent the most nights in France:
Do Royals Bring in the Tourists of is the Historical & Stately Buildings?
in 2022 Visit Britain found that history and heritage was the biggest pull factor to tourists.
And while the international perception of Britain is certainly intertwined with the royal family, this does not tell us whether a reigning royal family is necessary for tourism. After all, the history surrounding the monarchy and places associated with them would still be here even if the royal family was not. Ottoman palaces of Istanbul remain wildly popular attractions 100 years since the collapse of the caliphate, as are the royal châteaus of France or imperial palaces of China.
Lack of royalty does not seem to have affected these countries’ appeal, each of which attract more tourists annually than the UK.
Does British tourism really need the royal family?
Even though royal places are popular, they are far from the UK’s most popular attractions. Of Britain’s 10 most visited free and paid-for attractions in 2021, none were royal attractions. The highest ranking royal attraction was the Tower of London, making only 17th on the list.
Typically, Chester Zoo attracts more visitors than Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace, although these statistics do not differentiate between domestic and international tourists. In the most recent Windsor visitor survey, the majority of its tourists came from overseas.
Anti-monarchy group Republic has disputed the widely cited figure that the monarchy generates £500 million in tourism income for the UK annually – which itself would be only a small fraction of Britain’s £127 billion tourism economy.
The group also questions why royalty barely features on British tourism campaigns or advertisements, if it’s so vital to the tourism economy.
It is impossible to deny that royalty adds to the UK’s appeal as a tourist destination – the history and associated heritage is famous worldwide. However, what is questionable is whether a reigning monarchy is necessary for this attractiveness to continue.
A YouGov poll, carried out on Monday and Tuesday this week, shows just 45% prefer the monarchy over an elected head of state, which is only 14 points behind, on 31%.
This is the first time YouGov has asked this question, but comes a week after a similar Savanta poll put the monarchy on 48%.
As with last week’s Savanta poll there are a growing number of ‘Don’t knows’ (YouGov: 24%), underlining the need for greater public debate and better informed coverage from the BBC and other broadcasters.
Speaking for campaign group Republic, who commissioned the poll, Graham Smith said today:
“Clearly the spell is broken, the public are rapidly losing interest in the royals and support for the monarchy is collapsing year on year. While this poll is a one-off snapshot, the pattern across polls suggests support for the monarchy is collapsing.”
“This poll supports the Savanta poll we commissioned last week, which put the monarchy on 48%.”
“The monarchy no longer commands the support of the British people. It’s time it went, it’s time for that serious public debate about the democratic alternative.”
“To broadcasters and the wider media, we need to have that informed debate, where people can make a clearer choice. To our politicians, the monarchy is no longer a settled issue. Now is the time the institution must face scrutiny and accountability.”
“That democratic alternative, far from being unknown and untested, is common across Europe. A parliamentary democracy similar to what we have today, but transformed into a political system that is principled, genuinely democratic throughout, transparent and accountable.”
“It is a system that in places like Ireland, Iceland, Germany and Finland has provided not only stable and effective government, but also some exceptional and inspiring heads of state.”
“Yet this isn’t about importing ideas from abroad, but about learning from Britain’s own political experience and traditions and creating a republic we all have a stake in.”
“The country desperately needs to renew our democratic institutions, this is a good place to start.”
SEE THE POLL DATA on Republic’s website
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,089 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th – 16th January 2024. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
It’s simple: Hereditary public office goes against every democratic principle.
And because we can’t hold the King and his family to account at the ballot box, there’s nothing to stop them abusing their privilege, misusing their influence or simply wasting our money.
The monarchy is a broken institution. A head of state that’s chosen by us could really represent our hopes and aspirations – and help us keep politicians in check.
Conclusions and Aspirations
As someone who has spent the last two decades working in Policy and Strategy, and in the last decade of working life focused on Workforce Planning and Strategy – including Succession Planning. I am not a monarchist but simply looking at the UK Monarchy as a business entity, it was very obvious that the UK Royal family was a ‘house of cards’. A structure that may look attractive to some, but in reality, it was smoke and mirrors. The removal of a card, immediately weakened the structure. It was sheer luck that it had not crumbled there and then, but with each passing day, week, month and year, that structure’s risk assessment was increasing in terms of collapse. Every passing breeze was a demolition waiting to happen. SGUK did a podcast about a House of Cards and I doubt the Royalists who love to listen to Sussex podcasts in order to earn their coins by creating hateful content in their productions for the coming month, even had a moments thought as to how fragile their favourite Firm was/is and the risks building in terms of their future.
There have been many reiterations of a type of Royal Family Avengers group, who between them would be able to do everything required of a Monarchy in the UK. Some partnerships comprised of couples and as each one did not quite make the muster, a new dynamic duo was brought into the fold. The Royal Avengers has taken many forms in the last few years, but in the end they settled for the Magnificent 7 and hailed themselves protectors and commanders of the reputation of the Monarchy.
Jealousy and fragile egos took up the time of far too many members of that group of 7, which as the world has come to know now, resulted in one couple and their baby escaping from the poison arrows being sent their way and the amateur Mafioso type activity that was sanctioned by the family and carried out or commissioned by tabloid media litter tray liners masquerading as newspapers. The ratio of output that added value to the UK and Value For Money of the Magnificant 7 and the ever growing tentacles of their blood line and ‘married ins’ that the taxpayer was providing funding for was beyond outrageous. The 7 Senior Royals fell short by a long way in terms of VFM. 5 out of the 7 were beyond retirement age, and the remaining had nothing to show for their 20 years waiting for the ‘top Job’. No completed projects. No obvious competencies. No desire to be competent in anything because the job would be theirs on the passing of the King. In effect this future King and his wife ticked the box in terms of being under the age of retirement but nothing else. No one in Royal circles seemed to be concerned about this ticking time bomb, and government ministers were busy playing the equivalent of Super Mario games with contract processes and knew they would be personally fine regardless of outcome. It appears that if scrutiny took place between Monarchy and Government, it was a token gesture each time, because look at where we are now I terms of both groups.
The Monarchy family made life difficult for two people who would have been assets to this fragile group of Royal Avengers, but instead UK media told them every day to leave the UK, and when they did in 2020, they continued the harassment with the intention that they would fail and return to the abuse that they had experienced since 2016. The couple did not return, and became very successful in their first 6 months, and have continued on that trajectory. The next in line has devoted most of his time it appears in trying to match the projects and outcomes of the two who got away. None of it in any way benefiting time or effort or relevance to aims and objectives of the Magnificent 7. Travelling to other continents became vanity projects not business orientated at all and the people of the UK had no say in the matter and no opportunity to give feedback.
The 5 senior members worked hard, one in particular, works hard and produces the statistics, and has done all her adult life, but the fact remains ,in the real world of business, there would have been more scrutiny about the actual aims and objectives, and the measurable outcomes from all 7, in terms of their ribbon cutting and smile offensive and the obligatory royal wave. Cant really blame any individual, because there was never a requirement to act any other way.
The King whilst waiting to become the Monarch, did put together a range of projects, and they were measurable, and some have been and continue to be extremely successful. Others in that group are pleasant enough, but both failed outside of the protective wing of the Royal family, and now they are beyond retirement age, so there is not much point trying to do too much, if anything differently. The youngest couple in the equation, who have squandered 20 years of non achievement, are the next in line, and whilst they are more popular than the current King, they don’t have much going for them as they should. Most Royalists think they should be in the role, because they are the youngest of the 7. That is not VFM. It is a continuation of the common practice in UK monarchy to infantalise the adult males and treat them like wayward toddlers, but still bow and curtsy to them like they did from when they were toddlers. That type of behaviour around impressionable adults, leads to the adult tantrums and the like, that we have now when they do not get their own way. The females in that family are meant to have no ideas of their own, no independent thought, and basically to be walking clothes hanger – the embodiment of a Stepford wife. The UK is becoming a laughing stock globally, but on the island, the top societal groups think we are fab and if for any reason it all goes belly up, those societal groups will be fine. Eg none of the owners of the tabloids live or pay taxes here in the UK, and the MPs are in power (on the whole it appears) to feather their retirement years, and take the public to be fools or can do nothing about their actions anyway. The government chooses when to call an Election, and surprisingly enough they have had 5 changes of Leader in 5 years, without having to ask the people of the UK for their thoughts, and with the calamities of each of the 5, and the poverty that has ensued, and the poor sanitation in our waterways, and a failing NHS, and people dying in corridors or coming close, whilst waiting several hours to be seen by a medic of any kind. I don’t think the people of the UK feel like they are receiving VFM for their financial contributions which are taken at source without hesitation. The fantasy of a figurehead family at the helm of the rocky boat of UK seems to be regarded as a steady hand in a sea of uncertainty.
Royalists feel safe as long as there is a Monarchy in existence. They believe that the Monarchy is there by the will of a spiritual deity that exists in their heads. They bow and curtsy because they feel they should when they stand in their presence. The infantilisation of the male children from birth to end of life, is very real to them. They have no interest in whether their activity is necessary or done well. As long as the females dress in luxurious things, it makes their fantasy real by living through these people who on the whole don’t give a second thought as to whether they can afford to eat, or whether there is heat in their homes. The Royals believe a smile and a wave make the member of the public feel better and to be fair, Royalists do feel better. They happily sit out in all weathers just to get a glimpse of a Royal, and if they get a smile or a wave, they day and even life is made.
I am glad that that most Royalist are the same age as the King, or older. Ie mid 70s, which means that that kind of worship and ‘touching the forelock’ practices will reduce by natural processes. The most recent poll shows the support for a Monarchy has fallen below 50% to 48%. It is happening.
In recent weeks we have The Princess of Wales admitted to hospital for stomach surgery. There are differences of opinion as to when that occurred, but what is fact is the last time the Princess was seen was on Christmas Day. A few days ago it was reported that the Princess would not be seen in public before Easter, and then in the last couple of days, it has been reported in the Uk tabloids that she could be away from view until the Autumn of this year. Tabloids only print stories that the Monarchy has asked them print, in whatever style they wish, but the heart of the message always comes from the Royal Family. Less than a week, the Uk public is informed that the King himself will be undergoing surgery, and he will be in the same medical facility as the Princess. Next report issued that both will be leaving the medical facility on the same day. The King is seen waving as he gets ito his transport, with his wife, and is taken away. A blacked out vehicle left the hospital earlier in the day, claiming to be transporting the Princess of Wales. No one could see inside, and there are doubts that she was at the hospital on that day anyway, but whatever, she clearly is not well, and we wish both of them a smooth recovery. On paper at this point, there were still 5 people left who could carry out duties and pick up any slack in the duties of the other two. We then hear that The King has cancer. So healthwise, things have taken a difficult turn. Two more people that are part of the 7, also declared that Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh is unwell and he will need to take time off. To be fair, he has not looked well for months, so there is no great surprise, just sorrow really. Sophie, the Duchess will also be spending time with her husband. The Prince of Wales had already declared he would be spending time with his seemingly very poorly wife, and then following the announcement of the Kings cancer, (not related to what he was admitted to hospital for in the first place, but discovered whilst undergoing a series of tests) the Prince of Wales said that he would resume work and try to help his father the King, because at this rate, there was only his Aunt Princess Anne, and him left standing. The Prince of Wales undertook two engagements, and it is safe to say, that he looked far from well. He has lost a lot of weight, and I am guessing that there are worried courtiers behind closed doors right now. So, in effect there is Princess Anne only out of the 7 who is currently fulfilling her engagements.
As a non Royalist, I am of the opinion that the UK is still functioning to the standard it has been for the last few years under the current government. The world has not stopped spinning. I have quoted figures in this podcast and there are plenty more in the article. Despite what we have been told for as long as I can remember, most of the tourist that visit the UK do indeed like to visit stately homes and famous buildings in the country. Whilst Royal buildings do receive a fair amount of visitors each year (apart from the covid years as one would expect the figures to be extremely low) as shown on the slides and in more detail in the article, None of the Royal buildings are anywhere near the top of the list of popular destinations of tourists. Buckingham Palace, which is currently having telephone size numbers of taxpaper funds spent on it each year, is not even close to the top Royal attraction in the UK which is Windsor and Frogmore House – and neither or those are anywhere near the top of the list of buildings visited each year by tourists, as shown on the earlier charts above.
France does not have a Monarchy, and 70% of the tourist attractions in France come from the French residents, and 30 % by tourists. The income generated is much much higher than the UK. To bring this podcast to a close, I don’t consider the presence of a Monarchy family in the UK to be anything but a figurehead, that brings pleasure to an ever decreasing age group of the population. I have yet to be convinced when there was a larger group of working Royals going out and cutting ribbons and smiling and waving, that whilst it may have given comfort to many during war time, we are long past the age and society expectations, of needing a figurehead family to convince us and our allies that we were more than ok, and that we had a wealthy family to be in newspapers and magazines during troubled times, selling the notion that the public were doing well, and the country was strong etc. Younger people no longer need that from a figurehead family or group. Maybe that only worked in war time. Hope we never find out again.
I wasn’t raised to bow and scrape to anyone. I don’t believe that anyone is better than anyone else, purely by the birth canal by which they entered this world. They may be lucky but they are not better then. Never go through life feeling less worthy. Value yourself at all times. Having a Monarchy is not VFM – economically or otherwise. Their influence during times of war I can understand, but not in current times. I believe that all Monarchy structures and ways of life will cease to exist in the future. A Head of State of some kind is worth exploring. They would be voted in and removed by the people. The current set up of the top societal groups, which include the Royal Family, Aristocrats, Media Barons, including printed and televised, Police, currently look after each other as priority above the general public. The UK is not receiving VFM from any main pillar of society. Things have to change.
11th February 2024