mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
America’s Long Tax Holiday

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.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Jim.

    Eh, even the British are free to decide for themselves to decide how seriously to take the “superiority of birth” idea.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but how many British can you really find that truly in their hearts believe that members of the royal family are their “betters”? What sort of consequences are there for ignoring or chuckling at the very idea?

  • Bart Hall (Kansas, USA)

    As both a descendant of a Signer of the Declaration of Independence and a loyal subject of the Crown (I’m a dual citizen) I would disagree with you.

    America is unusual in that our head of state and head of government are combined in the same person. A large part of Reagan’s greatness arose from having been an actor and consequently played head-of-state surpassingly well.

    The great advantage of monarchy is that you can vest the sovereign with certain rarely-used powers one would *never* wish to place in the hands of politicians.

    In 1975 the government of Australia, though enjoying a substantial majority in Parliament (and therefore immune to motions of no-confidence) had clearly lost the confidence of the people. The Queen simply declared, through her official Australian representative that “The government do not enjoy the confidence of my Australian people. It is hereby dissolved, and the election will be held on 13 December.”

    This was barely three years after the Whitlam government had been elected to great national euphoria.

    Such powers might recently have been useful in America.

  • Michael K

    I think 85 cents per person for either the 1st or 2nd most famous Head of State in the world is a bargain compared to what us US taxpayers pay to maintain the occupant of the White House.

  • Crocodile Chuck

    “.but so far at least we’ve avoided the idea that some people are, by blood, better than others.”

    Walter, the above is a specious statement in light of Citizens United’s notion of corporate personhood.

    Corporate fascism ‘de jure’.

  • Andrew

    For shame Professor! Did you British schoolteachers not advise you of income which the State recieves from Crown Lands, Tourism, etc. As another commentator has mentioned, it would be no bad thing if the USA had a monarch who could dismiss our sorry crowed of so-called “representatives” rather than an imperious President.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service