Down with the Monarchy: A Brief Discussion on Britain’s Infamous Monarchical History and the Need for Change

Iqra Athar ‘26

Contributing Writer

From the news about new coins featuring King Charles’ portrait to Harry and Meghan being demoted on the Royal Family website may cover our feeds on the Royals, a great shadow looms behind that much-notable structure: the question of the continuation of monarchy.

While much of the world remains supportive of the Royal Family’s loss and pays their respect, it would be deeply foolish and atrocious of us to forget the government that the late Queen represented. Queen Elizabeth II was a monarch of 15 sovereign states, including the United Kingdom, during her death. Simultaneously, she was also the embodiment of government which caused pain and suffering to many; an avaricious Britain that committed atrocities in many places like India, Ireland, and South Africa while enriching itself. Furthermore, the Royal Family is in possession of the Koh-I-Noor diamond and Great Star of Africa, supposedly “gifted” by India and South Africa; however, there are new calls to return them.

While the sweet Queen, glorified for her stable reign, may now be gone, the cruel structure of the British Monarchy remains, and the man given to uphold it is not without scrutiny. The Queen’s eldest son immediately ascended the throne after her death to become King Charles III. Though the official coronation date is yet to be announced, it is reported that the coronation would likely be in the spring or summer of 2023. Nevertheless, as the features of new coins show, we have a new King in the world and the new Head of the 56 Commonwealth States. Again, whatever your feelings towards the late Queen or King Charles III might be, it is clear that the British Monarchy is far from kind.

The ascension of the new King has not only brought the Monarchy’s global legacy of colonialism to light but has also handed us an opportunity to discuss the socio-economic influence and impact it has had. As the socio-economic instability in Britain prevails with the effects of Brexit still being felt, we also come to scrutinize the vast wealth the British Royal Family has accumulated over time. While the exact worth of the British Monarchy is still ambiguous, Forbes estimates its worth to be $28 billion, with the Crown Estate belonging to the British monarch as a corporation alone being worth $19.2 billion. 

The wealth of the British Monarchy is controversial and secretive. And the detail alone that Charles would not pay any inheritance tax on assets passed down by the late Queen, calculated to be over $500 million, is questionable in the face of the 40 percent tax bill that each Britain is obligated to pay for if the inheritance value passes over $380,000. This is just one of the unexpected arrangements between the British government and the Royal Family, allowing big tax advantages to the already owners of amassing wealth, which they have hoarded over the years. But to even shroud the basic question about wealth in layers of secrecy only serves to erode trust in the long-standing institution there to represent the constitution.

(King) Charles himself has often been scrutinized over the questionable loopholes his Duchy of Lancaster has played around over the years. The Duchy of Lancaster (the principal source of independent income to sovereign worth more than $950 million and one, which also oversees the delivery of cross-cutting domestic and economic priorities) has been accused of dodging taxes and having unfair advantages over other private businesses. This cost is further brought to the forefront with The Guardian, Britain’s foremost liberal newspaper, publishing an editorial calling for Britain’s Parliament to put more pressure on royal finances and the mentioned inheritance tax deal. The obnoxious advantages to the Royal Family have been further highlighted with the Queen’s funeral being paid for by British taxpayers in face of inflation that has overtaken the country.

Simultaneously, with the avaricious institution steeped in the history of colonialism, we also have new questions being raised on Britain’s handling of criticism of the Royal sovereign which was highlighted by the arrests of anti-royal protestors. 

All-in-all, Britain’s monarchy must be dismantled. Modernizing it is a lost cause, for the Royal Family derives its power from the upholding of long-going traditions. And while the late Queen is known to have maintained strict political neutrality, it might not be the same for King Charles who has a history of wading into politics, a concern that a lot of British officials have voiced their concerns for. Simultaneously, the dismantling of monarchy comes from a deeper and concerned voice for what it has presented and goes to present with its hold on many illicit antiquities, of artwork stolen during the Holocaust or under colonial loot which it continues to resist giving back. The lack of transparency and diligence hence calls for a greater change: down with the Monarchy.

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    Lily Mellitz

    WOW. What a great, thoughtful, insightful article. Very talented writer and researcher. So proud of you Iqra. Can’t wait to see what you write next! ❤️

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