King Charles has been widely quoted as saying he wanted to see a slimmer monarchy.
He is wise – because he will know that the sheer wealth of the Royal Family, and even more so the amount it gets from the taxpayer, is its ultimate weakness.
For all the talk of a smaller, more compact Coronation, I’m not sure Charles has gotten off to a good start.
Despite the guest list being cut back, the latest estimates are that it cost £250m, all at public expense.
Even if the cost of security is deducted, the remaining £100m is still more than double the cost of his mother’s coronation in 1952, and £47m at 2023 prices.
The cost of royal events – for taxpayers – has risen dramatically since Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981
The cost of the cut promised for the coronation of King Charles (pictured) is estimated at around £250 million
Pictured: A carriage outside Westminster Abbey awaiting the departure of King Charles III
This is a lot of money.
It is interesting to note that no other European monarchy is interested in coronations. The last one was in Spain, for example, in 1555.
Even the £250m figure may be an underestimate. The cost of the Queen’s funeral was announced last year at £8m.
It was revealed last week that the final cost to taxpayers was £161.7m.
Then there were the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations last year. The bill for that came to £28m.
So that’s a cost to the taxpayer in just over a year of nearly £450m, just for those three events. That’s on top of the £86.3m annual sum for the monarch (up from £7.9m in 2011).
A strange—and disturbing—thing, as our analysis here shows, is the steady rise in overheads on these events over time.
Charles and Diana’s wedding is valued at £1.8 million in today’s prices – and this was in 1981, a time when the IRA was active and security costs were expected to be high.
Moreover, a YouGov poll conducted just before the coronation ceremony showed that 51 percent believed that the coronation should not be publicly funded at all.
Prince Harry’s stunning 2018 wedding to Meghan Markle cost the taxpayer an estimated £32m (£39m in today’s money).
And where Harry led, Princess Eugenie had to follow. Her carriage procession through Windsor in the same year incurred a bill of nearly two million pounds.
Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle in May 2018 cost taxpayers more than £30m
Princess Eugenie’s carriage procession through Windsor has billed nearly £2m for her wedding to Jack Brooksbank in October 2018
The Queen’s funeral (pictured) last year cost the taxpayer £161.7m
But why should the public pay for these expeditions?
Some argue that the cost to the public treasury is outweighed by the increase in tourism and the sale of television rights. The latter of course benefits individual broadcasters, not public money.
There is no question of reputational gains of some sort, but, in short, Britain presents itself to the world in a positive light.
As for tourism, there is no doubt that there is a benefit, although it is exaggerated. A few days before the coronation I had managed to secure a room for the night in a decent West End hotel for just £43 and there was still a ‘vacancies’ sign hanging up the next day when I left. This does not indicate a massive flow.
Furthermore, official government estimates suggest that each bank holiday – and special holidays have been introduced for coronations and jubilee celebrations – costs the country £1.36 billion in lost productivity, so the gains are certainly not one way, although you’ll find a bit of an argument against More days off.
Princess Beatrice’s wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi was paid for privately by their families
Do we really want our constitutional arrangements to be based on what tourists like?
Let’s not forget the King’s other unique tax arrangements, such as exemption from death charges on a private inheritance from his mother – no tax paid on series racehorses, valuable paintings, Faberge eggs, and £100m. Stamps Collecting.
The most recent calculations put Charles’ personal wealth at least £1.8 billion, which isn’t a good look when so many people are struggling to pay energy bills and put food on the table, and when you’re asking the public to foot a huge bill for royal events. – And in the case of the whole coronation.
Anyone who expects him to use his massive income to pay off taxpayers may be waiting too long, unfortunately.
King Charles needs to be careful.
While a clear majority of the British population still favors a monarchy, those who opt for a republic now make up nearly 28 per cent, the highest number since the royal meltdown of 1992, the “terrifying anniversary” of the queen.
Among young people, support for the monarchy and the republic is equally divided.
Keeping Andrew, Harry and Meghan off the palace balcony does not constitute a weak monarchy.
And in my opinion, a little more pomp and blessing at public expense, while Charles sits on his £1.8 billion fortune, is a surefire way to push that figure 28 per cent higher.