The £2.9bn Wedding
People of Britain Pay for Feudal Fairytale
The making of the Windsor wedding into a public and a semi-state occasion may have been a marketing success for the Windsor clan and for the monarchist elite that calls the shots in Britain. The fusing of family with state interests is what has allowed the Windsors to continue for so long to collect such rich pickings. For the news media and hard-pressed businesses, it was a chance to boost viewers or sales when money is short. But behind the infantile fairytale the true story is one of democracy denied, another episode in the systematic discrimination against republicans in Britain.
The denial of democracy in Britain does not not take the form it has in Bahrain, of course. There the feudal regime has brutally suppressed demonstrations calling for reform, imprisoning or murdering opponents. Yet the crown prince of that country is a friend of the Windsors and was invited to the wedding. The Windsors did not withdraw the invitation when this was exposed but their feudal buddy decided it would be wise to stay at home where his regime uses foreign troops to deny the people their democratic rights. Other invited guests included the Syrian ambassador, the king of Swaziland and representatives of Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe. The Financial Times commented that the seating plan "makes room for absolute monarchs and tyrannical regimes" but excluded former British prime ministers.
In Britain republicans are not put in prison or killed. But they are banned from serving as legislators and are barred from most of the armed forces and judiciary by laws and regulations that require oaths of allegiance to the Windsor family. People with democratic principles that have long been considered normal in much of the world are marginalised and treated with contempt.
Free speech not what the family expect, say police
For the wedding demonstrations were banned by the Metropolitan Police. A senior police officer told Channel 4 News that this denial of free speech was necessary because expressions of opposition to monarchy were "not in tone" with what "the royal family . . . expect". Police must swear allegiance to the feudal family.
And the bias shows. In an extraordinary statement to the press in which she sought to set out what political points of view are acceptable or unacceptable, Commander Christine Jones of the Metropolitann Police declared that "this is a day of celebration, joy and pageantry. It is a fantastic day for Britain". The use of the word “joy” makes clear that when dealing with the monarchy she is blinded to the normal requirement that public servants act impartialy. The senior police office went on to say that she would treat as criminals republicans exercising their right to free speech at this public and political, not private and personal, event. "We will not tolerate the event being disrupted", Jones said. "Any criminals attempting to disrupt it, be that in the guise of protest or otherwise" would be stopped.
For BBC Republican Equals Terrorist
In that same news broadcast the generally left-leaning Channel 4 depicted critics of the Windsor wedding celebrations as either Islamic extremists or anarchists. There was nothing to suggest that opposition to monarchy is in the finest traditions of British democracy.
But Channel 4 cannot compete in bias with the BBC state broadcaster, which all TV viewers are forced to support financially, and which will be showcasing the wedding. It has a long record of bias against republicans. And a long history of using Windsor ceremonies such as this to build public support for feudalism. It likes to denigrate republicans by referring to terrorists from Northern Ireland simply as "republicans". Once it described a member of a tiny terrorist group who had been arrested on murder charges as a "leading republican".
The Republic group was forced to move its "not the royal wedding" street party when it was banned by the Labour controlled Camden Council because it would not "draw the community together in an act of celebration/oneness" and because "it is very likely that this event is not, or would not be, supported by the majority of the community".
Republic said "Make no mistake - this is a politically motivated ban. It is an attack on our civil liberties and a clear case of discrimination against republicans". The group promised that "one way or another" the celebration of democracy would go ahead. It claimed that Camden Council had given in to "a vocal group of monarchists and landowners".
Wedding a £2.9bn hit for struggling economy
As always the needs of the Windsor family came first. They came before need for Britain to recover from the recession. In a concession to the arrogant demands of the Windsors, the wedding day was declared a public holiday. This followed the two-day Easter holiday and preceded the May Day holiday. No doubt this gift was intended to strengthen public support for the family. But the Financial Times reported that the extra holiday "is more likely to be a drag on the economy than a respite from austerity". It said that the economy takes a £2.9bn hit for every extra public holiday. The Office for National Statistics reported that it was likely to have knocked between 0.2 and 0.7 percentage points off growth in GDP. So it was a very expensive wedding. They may have granted their subjects a day off work. But those subjects will pay for this gift.
The people of Britain also paid all wedding costs apart from the Middletons' contribution, because all the money the Windsors contributed had been taken from the people.
£20m for being son of queen
But there is nothing new about that. The people pay for the mind boggling taxpayer handouts on which the Windsors thrive. The father of the groom takes more than £20m a year in spending money out of the pockets of the British people. It is believed that Britain is the only developed nation to pay out such a benefit for simply being a relative of the head of state. His mother is paid more than £12m for being head of state, compared to the $400,000 paid to the president of the United States.
The total cost of keeping the clan in the luxury it has known for hundreds of years is estimated at over £100m a year.
Class system makes Britain £56bn poorer
As the Financial Times reminded its readers "some would argue that the mere existence of the aristocracy, by constraining movement between the classes, carries its own costs. A study by the Boston Consulting Group last year concluded that if social mobility in Britain rose to Finnish levels, gross domestic product would be £56bn higher".
Policing of the wedding added to the burden the Windsors imposed on taxpayers. Residents of parts of inner London were inconvenienced by a ban on parking outside their homes for three days for the benefit of a family that lives in palaces and castles.
So while for the rest of the world the Windsor wedding was another chance to gawp at this country's feudal version of Hollywood glamour, for Britain's monarchists it was another chance to stamp on democratic decency. The real fairy story is the one the Windsors have sold to a gullible people.