In celebrating our independence today, one of the great blessings American can be thankful for is that we don’t have a royal family to revere and support.Not that the support of the royals is a huge burden, even though, as ITV reports, the annual tribute has just increased:
The royal family cost taxpayers 52 pence per person last year, slightly up on the year before.The royal accounts, just published, show a marked increase in the cost of travel.Prince Andrew’s overseas flights cost more than a third of a million pounds. But the biggest bill for a single trip belonged to Prince Charles.
And some of the projects the royals want taxpayers to stump up for would make blood boil over here.But the real benefit of casting off kings isn’t financial. It’s political and social. We may have celebrities over here, and we may have political families with dynastic ambitions, but so far at least we’ve avoided the idea that some people are, by blood, better than others.There’s nothing wrong with the British wanting to keep a bit of their history alive by letting the Windsors live in their ancestral palaces, and in if you consider what they do for the tourist trade, the royals are on balance a net plus for the economy. And there is something to be said for having an apolitical head of state; the symbol of the country isn’t a member of any political party (though poor Prince Charles often seems like the aspiring leader of a very wooly one).But this is a day to be glad not only that Americans are only taxed by people we ourselves elect; it’s a day to be glad that in this country the idea of an aristocracy of birth has never been able to get itself written into our laws.52 p may not be a lot of money (about 85 cents per year), but this is one tax I’m very glad we don’t pay.