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This house believes that the abolition of the monarchy in the UK would be a good idea

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/31/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,034 times Debate No: 26766
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
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Today I shall be attempting to convince you that the United Kingdom would benefit from the abolition of the monarchy. The main points that I shall be putting forward are as follows:
1) The monarchy, following a hereditary system, is unfairly elitist.
2) That the monarchy, despite not having a key role in politics, has real power, and therefore is a liability to the security of this country.
3) That the monarchy costs us, the British taxpayer, millions of pounds each year whilst refusing to give up many country-owned buildings and art pieces to the public.
4) That the monarchy undermines the reputation of the UK abroad.
5) That the monarchy is, directly or indirectly, discriminative.

I wish to kick off the debate with my first point. The monarchy is elitist. This monarchy evolves around a system where the first born child will become King or Queen. This is unfair on all modern democratic levels. How can we, as the UK, possibly go on to advertise a fully functioning democratic success story whilst the highest possible rank in our society is obtainable only through the randomness of birth. The monarchy is completely unaccountable to the general public like an elected head of state would be. If they use their so called 'Royal Prerogative' and bypass the House of Commons or Lords, what is there to stop here? Nothing. By the end of his/her 4 years in power, an MP is re-voted in if they have done a good job or they are not voted in if they have completely messed it up. The Queen has no such duty to the public and as such can essentially do as she likes. There is no chance of her being ousted by another. The whole concept of a hereditary head of state system devalues the core values of any society. There is no way for anybody to reach that status by their intellect or achievement, nor by merit and aspiration. The monarchy has never been voted in by the citizens of the UK, in fact can we even call ourselves that? No, we are not citizens. We are merely subjects of her majesty's pleasure.

My second point is on the monarchs power. Our monarchy has the powers to:
  • Elect a PrimeMinister against public opinion.
  • Raise a personal militia.
  • Appoint and dismiss ministers.
  • Issue passports.
  • Regulate the civil service.
  • Declare war and make peace.
  • Direct the military.
  • Negotiate, make and break treaties, alliances, and international agreements.
  • Pardon convicted criminal.

I strongly believe that with these powers, our monarch is a serious liability. Would you trust our armed forces to a family, not knowing what shape later generations will come in? As I have previously stated, our monarchy is entirely unaccountable to their actions if they chose to use the afore mentioned abilities. The monarch in power is the commander-in-chief of our armed forces, also a hereditary rank, a rank which comes with powers to overrule the MOD in order to get his/her own way. If anybody can argue that that power is a good idea then they are doing well. Where is the sense in having a monarch, who may know nothing of the military, being ale to overrule a government department set up with the express purpose of commanding the military. I wish to offer the scenario where we get a Hitler like monarch. What would happen to our country if they took their "Royal Prerogative" and used it to dismiss all the ministers, dissolve parliament, and command our armed forces at their own will. There is no way of stopping the monarch if they chose to take power, they can override the parliament.

The last point that I wish to make in this round is that of the cost of our monarchy. Over the 2008/9 financial year, the monarchy cost us a staggering £200 million. This cost is entirely unjustified for what is, in essence, a figurehead. That year they spent a whopping £600,000 on garden parties, and £500,000 on food for themselves. Just to put that in proportion, the cost of their food alone could feed approx. 16,700 African children (at approx. £30/child/yr). The total cost for that year could feed nearly 6.4 million African children. I would also like to mention the cost of the royal wedding and the royal diamond jubilee. The royal wedding cost the economy in excess of £6 billion. They also spent over 135,000 on a wedding ring and 800,000 on flowers. The queens diamond jubilee cost the economy £1.2 billion and cost £1.3 billion for general costs. Not to mention the increased staffing the Met had to put on that day, and their increased pay for working on a public holiday. Then there is the Royal Art Collection. This is a collection of 150,000 pieces, many of which are important historically. The collection is valued at over £10 billion and, make no mistake, is owned by the people. Yet only 2% of it is open to public viewing because of massive opposition from the monarchy. Much of it is in the monarchy's private residences and in places such as Buckingham Palace but the vast majority of it is in private storage.

The rest of my points will be made once I have an opponent, in round 2.



First I must commend my honourable opponent for such a good attempt at a comprehensive critique of our sovereign. Hopefully his disparaging comments won't be considered treasonous! But onto more serious matters.


The first point is 'The monarchy, following a hereditary system, is unfairly elitist.' I would agree completely. However, this is an absurd basis on which to remove the monarchy. The benefits of the monarchy far outweigh the benefits of its removal. This may feel like an unsatisfactory answer, true though it may be. I'll therefore expand; many things are unfair but we put up with them because they produce vast benefits. For example, the NHS takes money from the rich, who generally have good health, and gives it to those with bad health, generally the poor. This is highly unfair but the social benefits are great. The tax and education systems are further examples. I don't have children and am in good health yet I see these institutions, unfair as they are in one respect to be some of the highest forms of good in our society; one need only look at countries without institutions without free healthcare to see the consequences. Such is the British monarchy; unfair but highly beneficial.

Power & Accountability

My opponent's view of monarchic unaccountability seems rather sensational. He, for some reason, believes we all would stand idly by as the Queen seizes control of the country against the will of the people. This is of course nonsense; the monarchy for years has taken a back seat role while we reap the rewards of their existence. The possibility of the queen or a monarch exercising greater power exists, but the probability is minute. Perhaps another well placed example is needed; the possibility of me getting killed when I leave my house exists but because the probability is so low, I don't stay at home permanently. And in this case, ¬¬all of you would agree. The benefits, of course, will be explained later.

To expand on my opponents sensationalism, let us look at a hypothetical where the Queen goes into 'power hungry bitch mode'. The Queen, despite seeing a 60-40 majority for the labour party, appoints, on her whim, the leader of the conservatives who only command 30% of the country's vote, the other 10% voting for other parties.
Frightening stuff, eh? Our democracy overturned, chaos ruling, the people silenced. No. The people will not accept a queen who does the above. The majority of MPs will represent people who oppose the above; the queen will be swiftly and democratically removed. She cannot do the above, or exert any of her powers against the will of the people without being removed by the people. If she cannot exert her powers as she pleases, does she, then, even have do the above powers?

This may seem like a foolish question, but let us consider it. The queen, we have seen, must use her powers in the interests of the people, lest she be removed. The only decision the queen has, therefore, is whether or not to execute the interests of the people. Throughout the ages, those in power rely on the support of people who actually do things on the ground; like soldiers, civil servants and workers. In actuality, that is the definition of power; the head of state is powerless if another person commands the hearts, minds and actions of the people while he does not. It remains, then, to reap the benefits of the monarchy and remove them only after they have toed the line.

Economic benefits

And now the real issue. Money. The monarchy definitively pours money into the pockets of taxpayers and the economy.

My opponent stated that:

"Over the 2008/9 financial year, the monarchy cost us a staggering £200 million"
This is false. One can see from media coverage and the official monarchy press and accounts releases that it cost the taxpayer £41.5 million.[1][2] It should be repeated that my opponent was wrong in this statement.

To explain how the monarchy gives us money, a short history lesson is required. King George III, having racked up debts, offered the profits from all crown lands to parliament in exchange for parliament to pay his expenses. The revenue today, annually, is roughly £200m[3][4], enough to offset the £40m we give to the royals. This means that the monarchy is, in fact, subsidising your taxes; you pay around £2 less than you would because of her majesty giving up the profits from her land.

Furthermore, it is estimated that the monarchy generates £600m in tourism[5]. That is direct generation, not including tourists generally drawn to the UK because of the brand of the monarchy which in itself is vast. While it's true the Jubilee cost the economy £1.2bn, revenue from it was estimated at 900m[5]. This may be a net loss but is explained by the cited report:
"Brand Finance estimates the revenue uplift to the UK economy will be £2.4 billion offset by costs of £1.4 billion giving a net uplift of £1 billion to GDP."[5]

Even if this is an extremely generous figure, it would still be absurd to say the queen has cost us money.

Let us also take a look at the cost of elected heads of state. The German president costs German taxpayers about £26m.[6] And how many tourists flock to Berlin to see, er, what's his name again? Hollande costs France £87m a year.[7] So, it looks like a monarchy that more than pays its way is better than none or one that drains resources.

The issue of art is largely irrelevant. If we were to abolish the monarchy and lose the above economic rewards in favour of selling the collection for £10bn, we would make a loss after 20-25 years at the most. If we were to abolish the monarchy in favour of displaying the art, how many people would care. Enough to generate at least £700m? Perhaps a few art critics would be overjoyed but the majority of people in this country don't even know of its existence or size.

What have we seen?

1. The choice of monarch is unfair; however unfair institutions exist because they have great benefit elsewhere.
2. If the Queen used her power against the will of the people, she would be easily stripped of her power. The probability of this happening is so low that the economic benefits are safely reaped.
3. The monarchy gives more from the Crown's lands to the treasury than she takes.
4. The monarchy goes further and generates millions through tourism, directly and indirectly.
5. The monarchy does not necessarily cost less than an elected head of state or official.
6. The art won't give us more than the monarchy.

No sound argument has, as yet, been made that will persuade any to get rid of the monarchy. In the real world, the monarchy provides far more than it takes.

Long live the Queen.

On a point of your conduct:
It is despicable that you would compare the figures spent by the monarchy to how many African children could be saved; for one, your figures are wrong and for another, Africans wouldn't be helped with the money we might (though we won't) save. That point is irrelevant and is a transparent, underhand tactic to emotionally move a reader of this debate.

[4] (YouTube Video)
Debate Round No. 1


Cailean forfeited this round.


Seeing as my opponent has forfeited this round, I will do him the courtesy of keeping my remarks brief.

The monarchy pays for itself, subsidises your taxes and keeps some people happy. This is more than enough to offset the unfair aspect of who they are as their existence (as royals with heritage) more than pays back what they gain from it.

The question is, why would you dissolve a vastly profitable system?

Debate Round No. 2


Cailean forfeited this round.


muffin8or forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by muffin8or 3 years ago
What ho, what ho! Should be a fun debate. Go easy on me, it's my first time :)
Posted by Nidhogg 3 years ago
Unfortunately, I moved to East US a few years back and lost track of the monarchy. Hope this gets excepted though.
Posted by Cailean 3 years ago
Posted by Kinesis 3 years ago
I'd like to take this, but I'm really busy right now. I'll accept in a few days if no-one else does. :)
Posted by Marauder 3 years ago
I dont want to take the debate because I'm an American and mostly too ignorant of facts about British political issues to be a good opponent.

but even from my mostly ignorant perspective, I think I can guess what line of argument a challenger would have to take up for this debate; that the countries GDP in tourism for the country relies on the existence of the monarchy (to some degree it affects it im sure) and it probably provides a small source of national identity which is is a must for countries to have any national pride.

those are not strong enough to deal with your points but there the only positives I can imagine the monarchy provides at all.
Posted by brian_eggleston 3 years ago
Excellent opening argument, Cailean but you might have some difficulty finding any takers for this debate on this site because most members are American.
Posted by RyuuKyuzo 3 years ago
Oh boy, this guy referred to himself as a house and posted his opening argument in round 1. This guy is the real deal, people. Challengers, proceed with caution.
Posted by Cailean 3 years ago
That's just what I've said because I'm used to a formal, spoken debate. It doesn't really change anything inside the debate.
Posted by wiploc 3 years ago
I've always wondered about the "This house believes ..." form of debate. At the end of the debate, are we supposed to vote for what we believe, or for whoever debated better?
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