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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Mike Bates
Bio: Mike Bates
Date:  May 10, 2007
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Topic category:  Other/General

Welfare Queen Welcomed at the White House

Pomp and pageantry were the order of the day at the White House Monday. In honor of Queen Elizabeth’s journey to the Colonies, President and Mrs. Bush hosted their first, and perhaps only, white-tie dinner of his presidency.

Pomp and pageantry were the order of the day at the White House Monday. In honor of Queen Elizabeth’s journey to the Colonies, President and Mrs. Bush hosted their first, and perhaps only, white-tie dinner of his presidency.

Maybe it’s because of my Irish heritage. Maybe it’s because of my republican nature. Maybe it’s because I don’t like spring pea soup with fern leaf lavender. There’s just something about bending over backwards, with U.S. tax dollars, to impress possibly the world’s richest welfare recipient that annoys me.

The reason “possibly” appears in the previous sentence is because many of the finances of the British Royal Family are secret. What we do know with certainty is they live lavishly at public expense.

Last June, London’s Daily Telegraph reported of Prince Charles:

“His household includes two butlers, five chefs, three chauffeurs, seven housekeepers and nine gardeners, who are among his 142 full- and part-time staff.”

The prince’s spokesman stressed that the staffing was undersized, at least compared to Buckingham Palace:

“We have about a fifth of the staff, and we do more engagements and entertain the same number of people. In terms of staff, we’re actually very lean. Our staff numbers are right at the bottom.”

Charles derives most of his income from the Duchy of Cornwall, which for over 600 years has funded the heir to the throne. Valued at more than $1 billion, the duchy generated about $27 million for Prince Charles in 2005. His property and earnings are exempt from corporate and capital gains taxes, which saves the Prince of Wales a whale of a lot of money every year.

That’s not to say he doesn’t give his fair share. He and Mum both pay taxes, voluntarily. Charles recently paid slightly under 25 per cent of his income in taxes. Most munificent when you bear in mind that gardening salaries can be so bloody expensive.

Every so often those cheeky blackguards in Parliament get impertinent and question how the royals handle their finances. In one hearing, according to a 2005 Telegraph story, a representative of the prince cited him as “the biggest multi-purpose charity enterprise in the country.” An MP insolently retorted that a cynic might say that anyone given tens of millions a year and with “no responsibilities except buying cars and fretting about the environment . . . could all be significant multi-purpose charitable institutions.” Henry VIII would have known precisely how to deal with the bounder who said that.

Defenders of the British monarchy contend that maintaining it is good because of the many contributions made by the royals. All the ceremonies, favored charities and public appearances engender pride in the citizenry and are a good value for the money.

They undeniably attend many functions. Today, May 10th, for example, according to the Prince of Wales’ Web site – if the Pope can have one, so can he – the schedule announces:

“The Duke of Cornwall and The Duchess of Cornwall will visit the newly designated West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site. They will visit Holmbush Mine, Kelly Bray, Cornwall, where they will view progress on the restoration of mine buildings. Their Royal Highnesses will then present the World Heritage Site Certificate at a reception at The National Trust Barn, Cotehele House, Saltash, Cornwall.”

Yep, that sounds like good value for the money. Still, if that’s what the British want, that’s what they deserve. It’s their business.

As an American, though, my beef is that we’ve picked up the tab to sumptuously wine and dine and make a good impression on Elizabeth Windsor. I’m sure she’s a very nice person, but she is not inherently superior to the rest of us and shouldn’t be treated as though she is.

She’s who she is solely because of who her father was. Elizabeth won the genetic lottery. Unearned prestige, power and loyalty are hers.

I’d ask our British cousins to reflect on the words of Tom Paine. In attacking aristocracy, he wrote that “the idea of hereditary legislators is as inconsistent as that of hereditary judges, or hereditary juries; and as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man; and as ridiculous as an hereditary poet laureate.”

After election to the House of Commons, the member must “swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.” Individuals elected by the people must pledge fidelity to a family never elected by the people to anything.

I wonder if the British, who’ve made so many contributions to civilization and human rights, will carry the monarchy on their backs much longer. God Save the Queen. But after she’s gone. . .

Mike Bates

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Notes:  This appeared in the May 10, 2007 Reporter Newspapers.

Biography - Mike Bates

Mike Bates wrote a weekly column of opinion - or nonsense, depending on your viewpoint - for over 20 years. Additionally, his articles have appeared in the Congressional Record, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Mensa Journal. He has been a guest on Milt Rosenberg's program on WGN Radio Chicago, the Bruce Elliott show on Baltimore's WBAL, the Jim Sumpter show on the USA Radio Network and the New Media Journal's Blog Radio. As a lad, Mike distributed Goldwater campaign literature and since then has steadily moved further to the Right. He is the author of "Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths." In 2007, he won an Illinois Press Association award for Original Column


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