I should point out that in my concluding paragraph I suggest that the lack of reviews of Miles Goslett's book was in itself suspicious. In private email correspondence, Miles Goslett reassured me that there were other reviews that I had not seen.
And I am now looking forward to reading Norman Baker's book on the strange death of David Kelly; I've just ordered it. We need more whistle-blowers such as Norman Baker and Miles Goslett. Take a look again at the blog-spot title caption I wrote in January 2016: 'Unrobing the Emperors and other matters of concern. An author's blog revealing political deception in the UK ….' Why do you think I wrote 'The Road to Corbyn' (2016), originally called 'Deception'?
|Brilliantly researched and disturbing reading - as are the two books about the strange death of David Kelly I have referenced above.|
A ROYAL QUIZ
Your starter for ten points …. How many monarchies are left in Europe, what are they - and name one big difference between ours and the others?
There are 10 monarchies left in Europe. They are in Britain, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, Liechtenstein and Monaco. All call themselves constitutional monarchies - but we only have an unwritten constitution. Our British
monarch does not swear to uphold democratic values - the coronation vows only require the new monarch to respect God and the church. They remain unchanged despite our transformation into a democracy over the last two hundred years.
|Stars or Pound Signs in the sky?|
And now for other interesting questions ….
What is the Sovereign Grant, how is it linked to the Tories in government - and how much are we, the British people, losing out as a result of its introduction?
April Fool's Day 2012 saw the Sovereign Grant Act (2011) implemented. The Sovereign Grant replaced the Civil List that had been used to provide state finance for the royalty since 1760 when George III did a deal with the government. He surrendered to the nation the lands that became known as the Crown Estates in return for money from the government to support him and his family and lifestyle through an increased Civil List, set at £800,000 a year. The government took over all the costs of funding the armed forces, the secret service, the judiciary, and other public institutions.
By the first decade of this century, the Civil List had reached an annual cost to the taxpayer of just under £8 million (£7.9 million). In 2010, the Tory-led Coalition government came to power in the UK under the premiership of David Cameron, who had a distant royal family connection. In 2011, the cost of the Civil List nearly doubled to £13.7 million. Meanwhile, the government's policy of Austerity was dramatically reducing public expenditure and increasing poverty and social inequalities. British people died as a consequence of Austerity. By 2012 - the first year of the Sovereign Grant - the cost to the taxpayer of supporting the royal family more than doubled to £31 million. By 2017, when Theresa May narrowly led the Tories to victory in a general election, the annual Sovereign Grant had risen to nearly £43 million (£42.8). The latest figure for 2018-19 is nearly £83 million (£82.8 million) - almost doubling in two years.
|Taking an axe to excess in public expenditure to save the nation - a crackpot policy made all the nastier by the contrast with the exponential rise in the fortune owned by the royal family in this same decade.|
If you are thinking 'This doesn't smell right', consider this royal icing on the cake:
Elizabeth Windsor has been on the throne since 1952 and her son and heir Charles has become more and more envious of the performance of the so-called Crown Estates - the lands that George III gave up as part of the deal in 1760. These Crown Estates had now become a well-endowed and well-placed, very profitable property company. Charles' pressure on governments to get some of the fruits from these public estates was resisted until the Tory-led coalition arrived in power in 2010. As part of the change to a Sovereign Grant, a scheme was introduced whereby a percentage of the profits of the Crown Estates went to the royal family - the 'Firm', as they call themselves. This was initially set at 15%. It is now 25%. What a wheeze!
And what a money-spinner! In July 2019, the Crown Estates - who hold the rights to the sea-beds around Britain - announced an auction for the biggest offshore wind power development in the world. Elizabeth Windsor and the Firm will get hundreds of millions of pounds from her 25% share of the profits, money that would otherwise have gone to the Treasury - to us - to fund our public services, our hospitals , our social care, our local government, and all the other institutions and agencies crippled by a decade of cutting in the name of Austerity. Remember, Austerity was always a political choice, never an economic necessity.
All this to the monarchy who already had the Privy Purse - the Queen's private income from sources such as the Duchy of Lancaster which owns the land on which the Savoy Hotel is built in London. Read on, following the words of the Daily Telegraph website:
Another question to consider:
Which royal family in Europe has the most residences? How many - and how many are owned by the state and how many does that royal family have as private residences?
No surprise to find out that the Spanish, Dutch and Danish royal families manage with just two palaces apiece. The British royal family has occupation rights in 15 residences owned by the state. They also privately own several including Balmoral and Sandringham, the upkeep of which we pay for, to a degree. We are top of the leader-board in Europe for royal palaces.
The portfolio of 15 residences owned by the state and held in trust for the nation includes Buckingham, St James's and Kensington Palaces, Windsor Castle, the Royal Mews and Paddocks at Hampton Court, and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.
Until 1952, the monarch was required to fund the upkeep of Buckingham Palace entirely from the Civil List. Yet by 2016 - under a Tory government - '... the government was agreeing on behalf of the nation that public money should be used to foot the entire bill for a no-expense-spared £359 million revamp of Buckingham Palace' (Norman Baker (2019), p.198).
|Buckingham Palace - a London residence 'sans pareil'.|
And how do you think you should answer this one? Take care not to offend against royal protocol.
Name three actions you may not perform in the presence of Elizabeth Windsor (the Queen)?
You may not arrive at an event after Elizabeth Windsor. Nobody can.
You may not be in a location where you will be in a position to look down on Elizabeth Windsor at such an event. Nobody is allowed to do that.
You may not leave the event before Elizabeth Windsor chooses to do so. She must be the first to leave. It would be disrespectful for it to be otherwise. (Norman Baker (2019), p.359).
Windsor Castle, almost a stone's throw from Eton.
'Get those bloody planes off my castle' - words attributed to the Queen's consort, Philip, in the 1980s, as he successfully commanded the diversion from Windsor of the No 1 flight path into Heathrow.
Finally, some quick-fire questions:
Is the monarchy subject to our Freedom of Information Act, passed in 2000?
No. It's worth quoting Norman Baker again: '... the Queen in particular consistently generates strong popularity ratings …. [But] Is this because the real facts are hidden? The blanket exemption from the Freedom of Information Act hides the gluttonous excesses and the breath-taking tax breaks, and the unique ability to seal wills hides the enormous wealth that has been accumulated. A forelock-tugging political Establishment turns a blind eye, and a compliant media, fearful of losing access to the royal photos and press passes, is careful never to go too far in its criticism'. (Norman Baker (2019), p.8).
Who warned British students in China not to stay there too long, lest they return with 'slitty eyes'?
Philip Windsor (Elizabeth Windsor's husband - the Queen's consort).
|Windsor Castle - Green Drawing Room|
Who said, according to one of her ladies-in-waiting, 'The Africans just don't know how to govern themselves … What a pity we're not still looking after them.'?
Elizabeth's mother (The Queen Mother).
Is it true that a niece of the Queen Mother - a cousin of Elizabeth Windsor - spent most of her life in a home for people with learning disabilities, unvisited, unacknowledged?
Yes. In 1941, Katherine Bowes-Lyon and her sister Nerissa were dispatched to the royal Earlswood in Redhill, Surrey, aged 22 and 15. Three others - second cousins to the then Queen - also arrived that same day - Idonea, Rosemary Jean and Ethelreda Fane. Nerissa survived until 1986 and Katherine until 2014.
|Read the story below for an even deeper insight|
Here is Norman Baker on the subject: 'Nor, despite her fabulous wealth, her sixty servants and £300 bottles of champagne, did she (the Queen Mother - and a patron of Mencap, a charity dedicated to helping those with learning disabilities) provide her niece with even the most basic essentials. Until 2002, the royal family did not even provide Katherine with her own underwear. The fees for her stay at Ketwin House, also in Surrey, to where she had been transferred upon the closure of the Royal Earlswood, were picked up by the ever reliable NHS. Ketwin House was in fact closed while Katherine was resident there after allegations of physical abuse, the washing of female residents by male staff, and question marks over the handling of patient finances.
There's much more in Norman Baker's book - a timely expose of what we should have known and considered before. Here's a link to the Wikipedia article about the Sovereign Grant - it contains the fact that the annual cost of having a monarchy is at least £300 million:
'The Queen and the Prince of Wales also receive private income through the Duchy of Lancaster and Duchy of Cornwall. The Sovereign Grant only accounts for a small part of the total cost of running the monarchy, which is approximately £300 million annually. The Sovereign Grant does not cover the costs of police and military security and of armed services ceremonial duties. Nor does it cover the costs of royal ceremonies or local government costs for royal visits.'
In my four years of blog-posting, I have published on the republican theme once before - in 2016. Here is the link:
https://robdonovan.blogspot.com/2016/09/jeremy-corbyns-socialism-and-my-hopes.html - this post explores the links between my socialism and my republicanism.