One has to say that it was an end of an era in British history when Queen Elizabeth II passed away on the 8th of September 2022 after reigning on the crown for more than 70 years. She was 96 years old and the crown will now be handed over to her son, Prince Charles who will finally become King Charles III. Image source: Pedcymro29 Youtube Channel
Read these first:-
- World Affairs 101: Lessons To Be Learned, The Aberfan Disaster
- Religion 101: Mahatma Gandhi’s Favourite, Powerful Ram Dhun Bhajan
- History 101: Bayeux Tapestry – The Ancient Artwork That The Nazi Wanted To Steal
- History 101: The Fearless Malayan Special Forces in Congo 1961
- Democracy 101: A Good Parliamentary Debate
Video caption: As well as being Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II was widely known for her sense of humour. From joking with world leaders to sketches with Daniel Craig and Paddington Bear, the Guardian looks back at her most memorable funny moments
Disclaimer: This post is NOT meant any insult to the British Royalties but as an analysis of the 2 ongoing key challenges that are facing the British royalties and to some extent other royalties all around the world.
Challenge No 1 – Call for Abolishment of Royalties
In many countries, the concept of monarchy has been abolished and in place, they have created an elected head of state which is determined by the people or by the Parliament instead of leaving it to be occupied by a single family. In the United Kingdom, there has been a growing call to abolish the monarchy and change the United Kingdom into a republic.
Hereditary public office goes against every democratic principle.
And because we can’t hold the Queen and her family to account at the ballot box, there’s nothing to stop them abusing their privilege, misusing their influence or simply wasting our money.
Meanwhile, the monarchy gives vast arbitrary power to the government, shutting voters out from major decisions affecting the national interest. The Queen can only ever act in the interests of the government of the day and does not represent ordinary voters.
The monarchy is a broken institution. A head of state that’s chosen by us could really represent our hopes and aspirations – and help us keep politicians in check.
(Source: Republic Org UK)
Further, a concern from the taxpayers in any country is how the government spends their money. the monarchy cost the British taxpayers an average of USD 120 million (almost RM0.5 billion) each year and there have been other outrages of the royalties luxurious spending given the economy is not doing so well:-
Campaigners have criticised William and Kate for acquiring a fourth huge home – at great expense to the taxpayer – during the cost-of-living crisis.
Campaign group Republic has said the move is shocking and shows how out of touch the royals are. The royals have also been labelled dishonest for trying to spin the move as a downgrade to more modest accommodation.
Speaking today, Graham Smith said:
“Adelaide Cottage is a huge house by any standards, and it’s attached to another home which we can assume will be for servants and staff.”
“This fourth home is in addition to the multi-storey mansion William and Kate have in Kensington Palace, the 10-bedroom home in Sandringham and the large house they use when in Scotland.”
“While the country faces an ever-growing cost-of-living crisis it is shocking to see William and Kate acquire a fourth home, at great expense to the taxpayer.”
(Source: Republic Org UK)
And if we think that the call to end the monarchy in favour of the greater democracy only happens in the Western world, there have been protests against the new Thai King which is something that is unthinkable in the country which professes lengthy jail sentence for any insult against the King:-
Thousands of Thais took to the streets of the capital on Sunday demanding reforms of the monarchy, defying a court ruling that such demands are a veiled attempt to overthrow the institution.
Youth-led protests that began last year by calling for the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, 66, a former coup leader, have become the biggest challenge in decades to the monarchy which is constitutionally enshrined to be held in “revered worship”.
Protesters marched against rows of riot police behind shields, waving placards that read “No absolute monarchy” and “Reform is not abolition”.
Mind you that in Malaysia, we practice something called “constitutional monarchy” which is based on the same United Kingdom’s Westminster Parliamentary system which limits the powers of the monarchy and the King is elected from the Sultans of the various states every 5 years.
Even so, at the state level, it is still based on a hereditary monarchy and some of the royalties have demonstrated unbelievable power and wealth and businesses related to logging, property development and mining. And even so, there have been incidents of open outrage and silent criticism on the expenses related to monarchs such as:-
Recently, Malaysians have managed to spot that an investment holding company involved in construction activities and integrated facilities management services, was offered a contract worth RM519 million for the management of the facilities at Istana Negara.
Upon spotting the list, some netizens took to Twitter to share it. This has sparked outraged from the majority of Malaysians who were quick to criticise and slam the government as well as the ministry for needlessly wasting public funds.
“JKR can’t even fix the potholes for the rakyat but can spend half a billion for one man on things like this,” commented a netizen.
(Source: World of Buzz)
Now all eyes are on the King on what he will decide regarding Najib’s application for the King’s pardon for the guilty charge in the SRC International case and who is facing another 4 other court proceedings.
One of the soar points between the royalties and the former colonies of the massive loot that was taken during the dark years of colonisation. There have series of calls by these former colonies for the return of their national treasures but it has been flatly refused by the British. Image source: Facebook
Challenge No 2 – Return of National Treasure Looted During Colonisation
One of the criticisms against the British royalty is that it also represents the dark history of colonisation especially when it comes to the looting of priceless jewellery and artefacts from colonised countries like India, Egypt and countries on the African continent. The amount and the value of the loot are not small.
Drawing on nearly two centuries of detailed data on tax and trade, Patnaik calculated that Britain drained a total of nearly $45 trillion from India during the period 1765 to 1938.
Some of the stolen goods were consumed in Britain, and the rest were re-exported elsewhere. The re-export system allowed Britain to finance a flow of imports from Europe, including strategic materials like iron, tar and timber, which were essential to Britain’s industrialisation.
On top of this, the British were able to sell the stolen goods to other countries for much more than they “bought” them for in the first place, pocketing not only 100 percent of the original value of the goods but also the markup.
After the British Raj took over in 1858, colonisers added a special new twist to the tax-and-buy system. As the East India Company’s monopoly broke down, Indian producers were allowed to export their goods directly to other countries. But Britain made sure that the payments for those goods nonetheless ended up in London.
The list of Indian artifacts that were stolen in colonial times and are now in the United Kingdom is long. After all, the British Empire was the largest colonial power in its time, and India was its biggest colony, the “jewel” of the crown.
Artifacts that the British seized, looted or took away as “gifts” include the 105.6-karat “Koh-i-noor” diamond, which adorned Queen Victoria’s brooch and following that, the Queen Mother’s crown; the Buddha’s shrine from the Amaravati monument, in southeast India; and a wooden tiger that was seized from Tipu Sultan, a southern Indian ruler, after he was defeated by the British in the 18th century.
Today they are displayed, among other places, in the British Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), which also has an impressive collection of bronze statues from Benin. These were acquired by the British during a punitive expedition in the late 18th century to the Kingdom of Benin, located in present-day Nigeria.
The art from its royal palace and civilian homes was looted during a 10-day massacre described in the British National Archives as a “punitive expedition”—a punishment for the Benin king’s men killing seven British officials demanding control of regional trade.
At least 3,000 artifacts—known as the Benin Bronzes—were stolen and taken to Britain, with 40 percent sent to the British Museum. The remaining loot was sold to private collectors and galleries across Europe and the United States. Much of it ended up in major Western museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Ethnological Museum of Berlin.
The British Museum in London holds at least 73,000 objects from sub-Saharan Africa. France holds 90,000 artifacts, most of which were stolen during its colonial rule over much of the region.
Belgium’s controversial Royal Museum for Central Africa holds more than 120,000 artifacts—mostly taken from the Belgian Congo during King Leopold II’s regime, which was characterized by slavery, rape, and mutilation and resulted in the killing of at least 10 million Congolese.
Germany’s Humboldt Forum holds around 75,000 artifacts, including 10,000 objects looted by German troops during the Maji Maji uprising against colonial rule in present-day Tanzania. Around 300,000 locals were killed.
(Source: Foreign Policy)
A kind gesture that the British royalties and in particular, British Museums could do now is to seriously look at returning all the loot that was taken at the height of colonisation.
Not many countries practice the concept of a monarch as the head of state and yet some monarchs like Brunei and Saudi can be absolute and very rich. Sultan of Brunei is expected to be worth some USD28 billion whilst the King of Saudi Arabia is worth some USD20 billion. The richest king alive is the King of Thailand who is worth USD43 billion. Image source: Wikipedia
Times are changing and monarchy roles, in general, have changed too.
The continuation of the monarchy in a modern, progressive country is getting more and more difficult especially when it comes to hard-earned taxpayers’ money being allocated for the luxurious life of the monarchs instead of money spent on the poor.
It is possible that in the near future, there will be a growing call for the United Kingdom to be made into a republic if monarchs failed to be one with the people. It has happened before in history and is called the French Revolution where the French disposed their King Louis XVI and France a republic state.
It will be interesting to see how the British monarchy will evolve under King Charles III and thereafter his son in midst of the growing call for the abolishment of royalties.