Queen Elizabeth’s funeral draws attention to royal spending

Many Britons feel poor all the time. But their royal family is already very rich.

Now that the movie scene for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral is over, and the bout of national mourning over the death of a beloved king is beginning to subside, attention is turning to the royal coffers – which, for a certain segment of the British public, is a perpetual sore point.

As at state funerals, British taxpayers will pay the as-yet-undisclosed bill for 10 days of lavish, lavish festivities culminating in Monday’s funeral, three elaborate ceremonies that ended with the Queen’s burial at Windsor Castle.

With hundreds of world leaders including President Biden in attendance, and a miles-long queue of the Queen’s subjects patiently waiting for a chance to watch her lay in state, police officers blanketed London in what authorities described as the largest-ever security operation in the country.

As the British public and the millions watching around the world have learned the meaning of words like “catafalque”, “cortege” and “Crossifer”, the government says the cost of the funeral will be revealed “in due course”.

Obviously, in the eyes of some, even referring to a check is a heresy.

“May one ask who is paying for all this, or will he be arrested?” David Baddel, the 58-year-old comedian inquired in a tweet that led to an angry pile on the internet.

Clearly, all this splendor and splendor did not come for cheap.

Some estimates put the total cost — the funeral, along with the coronation of the upcoming King Charles, an accompanying holiday feast, and the cost of having to switch currency to the ornate image of a new sovereign — at more than $6 billion.

This level of spending leads to a paradoxical juxtaposition, with a raft of cost-of-living increases set to plunge more Britons into poverty than ever before.

The country is already facing an inflation rate of 8.6% in the CPI. In October, gas bills will rise by about a third, following the government’s cap on energy prices.

Surveys have shown that at least 5.6 million people have been forced to skip a meal in the past three months, and nearly 8 million have sold personal belongings to cover the cost of living. The Small Business Consortium, a business lobbying organization, says more than half of small businesses expect to stagnate, downsize or simply close next year; Even hospitals and schools will struggle to keep their doors open.

In addition to funeral costs, whatever they may be, the British government funds the so-called Sovereign Grant, an annual payment given to the royal family for official travel, property maintenance and operating costs for the King’s family.

This year, it amounted to nearly $100 million, and included additional funds for the restoration of Buckingham Palace. Security costs are not included in this calculation, but are paid by the government and kept confidential.

As in other parts of the Commonwealth and the UK itself, this has all galvanized anti-monarchies and those calling for a reconsideration of how much British people should pay for their hereditary bloodline.

“We give royals a lot of money every year,” said Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, a group that – as its name suggests – is campaigning for the UK to abolish its monarchy and for a republic to replace it. with an elected head of state.

Smith noted that Charles, under an agreement with the government in 1993, would not have to pay inheritance tax, unlike citizens who are charged a 40% tax on any part of property worth more than 325,000 pounds, or nearly $370,000 .

So, although state funerals are an acceptable taxpayer expense, “It would be beneficial if [Charles] He was willing to make some compensation for this enormous cost, given that we are struggling to pay for hospitals, police and schools,” Smith said.

Another sore point for anti-royalists is the sprawling holdings of the royal family. The main money maker is the late Queen’s Duchy of Lancaster, which according to recent financial statements is worth about $740 million and generated more than $27 million in profit; This now passes to Charles exempt from taxes, depriving the Treasury, or treasury, of billions in revenue.

Another more lucrative possession is the $1.3 billion Duchy of Cornwall whose ownership automatically passed to Prince William as soon as Charles took the throne, without paying corporate taxes. This is all in addition to other properties owned by the Crown but cannot be sold, including Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and the two Crown Estates.

Other personal assets passed down from the late Queen to Charles include her investments, art collections, rare jewelry and stamps, as well as Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The total wealth is estimated at about 28 billion dollars.

However, the monarchs point out that the royal family is an important attraction for UK tourism and that the sovereign fund costs less than $1.50 per subject per year – an amount that is not a problem for such a soft power token.

“I don’t really care how much any of these costs,” tweeted Isabelle Oakshott, a journalist and editor for Britain’s Talk TV. “I can’t think of a better use of our taxes right now. It’s simply who we are.”

She wrote that the funeral and the events associated with it served as a reminder of all that was great about Britain. Normal life will be back tomorrow, with all its crippled bills, NHS queues and late-running trains, but we can stick with that.”

The monarchy remains very popular among Britons, with a recent survey showing that 68% have a positive opinion of the institution. However, the young are less enthusiastic than the elderly, with less than half of 18-24-year-olds saying Britain should continue the monarchy, compared to 86% of those over 65.

You can’t get around the fact that property deposits are expensive. Princess Diana’s 1997 funeral cost between £3 million and £5 million in 1997, or $7-8 million when adjusted for inflation. In 2002, the Queen Mother cost nearly $10 million in today’s dollars, mostly for security.

But all that pales in comparison to the expenses related to the funeral of Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, who ruled the country for 70 years and 214 days.

In addition to the tab for more than 10,000 police officers, 1,500 army personnel, and thousands of guards and volunteers for the funeral alone, not to mention an elite British Special Air Service unit on standby in the event of terrorist attacks, there was another associated cost: the bank holiday the day of the funeral.

Most of the companies were closed, along with the London Stock Exchange. For comparison, government data estimated that a June bank holiday to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee caused a 0.6% drop in the country’s gross domestic product.

“It has cost a lot of people a lot of money, especially small businesses,” Smith said. He added that although public holidays could be linked to increased spending in restaurants and hotels, that was not the case here, as massive crowds made commuting very difficult.

Sure enough, several sellers accepted the idea of ​​closing for the day, including Brick Lane clothing salesman Ryan Boyle.

“Listen, I’m Irish, but I can’t stand it,” said the 59-year-old. “She’s dead, and I’m not. I’m grateful for that and don’t mind closing out of respect.”

Others seemed less optimistic. Beau, a tailor in Soho who did not want his full name to be used for privacy reasons and to avoid alienating loyal royal clients, grumbled about having to give his staff a day off to attend the funeral.

“I paid for it,” he said.

The new king spoke of a diminutive royal family, and also of a less costly coronation for himself, when it would take place next spring or summer. But Smith said the total costs of a royal transition – the funeral, a weekend in banks, the coronation and the new currency – “could save us 13 million nurses”.

“It’s very much a one-way street, in terms of what we give and take,” he said of the royal family.

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