Monarchs are, by nature, peripatetic. What would Ye Sunne have made of Queen Elizabeth I’s costly peregrinations around her realm? Would Ye Daylie Looking-Glass, in the name of England’s downtrodden burghers, not have waxed exceeding wrath at the gargantuan sums her father paid for his gaudy extravaganza at the Field of the Cloth of Gold? No doubt Lord Robert Cecil would have pointed out to spiteful court scribblers that Gloriana’s tourism did not, in fact, cost the Exchequer a groat or a farthing: it was the hapless gentry who paid for her lengthy visits, bought the sumptuous state beds and cleaned up the overflowing drains afterwards. He might also have pointed out that, even in Edward I’s day, those costly sojourns up North were legitimate business expenses, hammering the Scots and raiding the Scone treasury for coronation stones.
(Ye Sunne, Ye Daily Looking Glass… priceless!)
Compared with this, the £304,000 bill for the charter flights to carry Charles and Camilla around the Middle East is a mere bagatelle. The sums expended now by the Queen are a paltry fraction of what her ancestors spent on themselves, their mistresses, their favourites and their hounds. Nor did they organise daily parades of soldiers to amuse the tourists, invite children and costumed entertainers to their birthday parties or unveil numerous plaques in dreary community centres.
The Queen’s expenses have, admittedly, gone up: but largely because today’s security demands are stringent and the Palace must vet staff more closely lest they unwittingly engage a snooping hack. At a cost of 62p per person per year, the Queen is remarkably good value, a mere 2p more than the cover price of The Times.
Out of curiosity, anyone know how much it costs to keep the Governors General?
But, as reader Rueful Red said back in April, so clearly articulating my own wishes:
I’d like to see HMQ rowed up, or for that matter down, the Thames on a huge Tudor-style Royal Barge, and accompanied by the barges of all the livery companies in full rig. Handel’s Water Music playing in the distance. Millions of people would line the banks and cheer her.
Sigh… I’m sure they could certainly at least get her a yacht.
If we want a royal family, we must expect to maintain it in an appropriate dignity. The carping is all very well, but it takes no account of the inferior, and more expensive, alternatives.