With Brexit looming at the end of the month, British politics seems to be growing increasingly problematic. Of course, I am referring to Boris Johnson’s attempt to prorogue parliament, forcing the Queen into politics. This caused a severe backlash with several Tory MPs voting against the party and losing the whip. The Queen received criticism for not refusing Boris Johnson. However, as dictated by tradition, she is meant to act purely on the advice of the Prime Minister.
This begs the question: how much does the United Kingdom still need a monarchy? The sovereign is expected to play a purely symbolic role, without any political interference. The Queen’s role as a figurehead is consequently outdated and although she is far from being powerless, she regularly has no say in matters of genuine importance.
On the one hand, the monarchy is considered to be extremely beneficial for international relations and maintaining links with Commonwealth countries. However, the royal family represent a colonial past which many would prefer to distance the UK from. Every year, the royal family receives a sovereign grant funded by tax-payers, a sum which has increased every year by several million pounds. This grant is used for official duties, such as “opening buildings, chairing charities, hosting garden parties, travelling the country and abroad”. Their annual grant has increased from £76.1m to £82.2m in the past year. Many royalists argue that the monarchy does not actually cost much per year, although when compared to other government funded institutions, such as schools or the NHS – both of which are currently underfunded – it seems like an enormous waste of money. According to The Royal, the Queen represents “national identity, unity and pride”. How can she possibly represent unity or national identity when the royal family is receiving enormous benefits for extravagant parties and private jets, and yet more than four million people are currently living in poverty in the UK?
The monarchy is an outdated political tradition which represents colonisation and oppression. To even have a sovereign in a democratic state seems hypocritical and unnatural, not to mention classist. The only reason to maintain a monarchy in this century is for the hope and community which the tradition of it can bring, and during the uncertainty of Brexit, a bit of hope is always appreciated.
Without the monarchy, I believe that politics would become a more straight-forward, democratic system. It would rely more on the people and would make cause for a constitution, or something similar, to prevent any more deceitful behaviour from politicians like Mr Johnson.