Thursday, 27 June 2013


Much to the chagrin of many of my friends, I will admit to being something of a Royalist. Not completely I must add, though I'll get to that momentarily.

Yes, it is archaic, and when one really thinks about it, having an inherited Head of State is as completely ludicrous as it has always been since the times of Ancient Rome, given that their personality, morals et al are as unpredictable through birth as any such occurrence is.

However, I'm rather fond of our Queen. I can't deny that some of that credit would have to go to Helen Mirren, much like Meryl Streep gave a touch of genteel humanity to  Thatcher in the on-set of dementia, so one could argue that my warmth is inspired purely by fiction as much as fact.

But I also like her for being such a constant. In this ever-changing, seemingly ever-faster World, she is etched and stitched into the fabric of all our years alive. As a child, to me and my family The Queen was as much the 25th of December as Father Christmas himself was. My Grandmother 'knew' her, thus so my Mother , and so in some small way I do too. There is, I believe, something soothing in that continuity. For over half a century she has stood as a through-line connecting every Prime Minister from Churchill to this day, a rarity of which the relevance should not be dismissed.

It cannot be denied, whatever one's thoughts on the matter, that she has undertaken her duty as Monarch with diligent dignity, grace and an unwavering commitment that few could match or let alone surpass in a lesser role. And though she has undoubtedly lived a life of immense privilege, one far removed from that of the Common People, there are a countless many who have been personally touched by but a moment of her personal focus and attention.

So for me, I'm quite patriotic in my thought of 'God Save The Queen'.

On the flip-side, in the majority the rest of them I could happily do without. I'm somewhat charmed by William and Harry I suppose, much as I was beguiled by Diana, but then we live, more than ever, in an age that is beholden to 'The Cult of Celebrity'. And there is Anne, who is truly a toff but a hard-working one at best. But yes, the likes of Beatrice and Eugenie irk considerably, and when we come to one such as the Princess Michael of Kent I swing closer to being a gun-toting Revolutionary.

That particular rather loathsome jade is not, however, to be confused with the more elegant and most 'ordinary' Katharine, Duchess of Kent, who has in many ways forgone her 'Royal' status, including most secretly taking up the decade-long role of a Primary School music teacher in Kingston upon Hull known as plain Ms.Kent, along with her tireless charitable work with the likes of UNICEF and The Samaritans; I like Katherine Kent very much.

Is it ridiculous that our taxes pay for The Queen? I won't try to dispute that. But then the Queen herself favours a gradual shrinking of the Civil List as she tries to trim the cost of the Royal family to satisfy public opinion; and Charles too has long believed that the Royal Family has to be leaner and more cost effective, although his own spending of around £15million a year makes you wonder what he actually means by lean (the Queen is famously - and relatively - thrifty in comparison).

Besides, our taxes also pay for every M.P. to have two homes when most of us cannot afford one, our taxes have paid millions towards the comfort of a hate preacher, our taxes are misused far more frequently and fundamentally poorly than on dear old Elizabeth II, and that remains a discussion for another day entirely. Furthermore, whilst it isn't happening fast enough (such things rarely do) the current centuries old system of grants and Civil List funding is being replaced by an all-in-one payment called the Sovereign Support Grant, paid for entirely by the Crown Estate.

Yes. I'm vehemently against the aforementioned likes of toilet-lid-wearing Beatrice and Eugenie being kept on the Civil List and similar funding, or even having taxpayer-funded royalty protection officers, which apparently for the most part (upon revelation it was costing us £500,000 a year) has now ceased. So yes, things are gradually changing, with their no-doubt disgruntled playboy dad Andrew now having to pay their rent of £30,000 a year. But for a four-bedroom 'flat' in the area of St.James' Palace, I'd say that comes at a snip.

Their cousins William and Harry may be required to have protection, but then they also fulfil their military duties, whilst Peter and Zara Phillips, though unquestionably gifted by the silver spoon, have both built up impressive independent CVs and, significantly, neither of them have police protection, or carry a title.

But here, today, this is where I'm cross as I catch this evening's headline:

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s refurbishments cost taxpayer £1m

This is the cost of converting the late party girl Princess Margaret's 'Apartment 1A' at Kensington Palace ready for them and their new born sometime in the Autumn, after the renovation and redecoration is complete. Oh, so after £1m it still isn't finished yet? And the name 'Apartment 1A' is also a little misleading, seeing as it consists of 57 rooms. Admittedly, it has been stated that all the interior decorating costs are being paid for out of the Royal family’s private income. So what has the £1m gone on then? Roof tiles, re-wiring and asbestos clearance apparently.

Which makes me wonder, is the Royal Household that out of touch, because they're being taken for one hell of a scam with that bill. It smells like a dodgy contractor to me. Someone really needs to call Esther Rantzen, Gloria Hunniford or Angela Rippon on their behalf, because clearly, even The Crown is open to a clever con.