Friday, 16 August 2013

Subscription monarchy

A picture I took as the Queen passed Lancaster University in 1977
I have always been suspicious of those who want that excellent institution the BBC to switch from being funded by licence fee to subscription, but I am coming round to it, because I think I would be hypocritical to argue otherwise given what I'm about to say.

The other night I was watching Steven Fry's TV programme on the City of London. All the places were very interesting, but people like the Lord Mayor, beadles and livery companies, dressed up in their silly pantomime costumes really got up my nose. Or rather, I thought it's fine, as long as we don't have to pay for it. As far as I'm aware, the livery companies are self-funding, and if that's the case, and as long as they keep it behind closed doors, I'm delighted for them to prance around in silly robes and share loving cups and such. However, my suspicion is that the Lord Mayor's antics (not Boris, the pantomime Lord Mayor of the City of London) are paid for by taxpayers or ratepayers, and that is not on. At least, not without any choice in the matter.

I feel the same about royalty. I know I'm in a 20% minority, but I'd get rid of the lot of them. Not in a revolutionary, guns at dawn sense, simply get rid of the institution and stop paying for it. However because I am in a minority, perhaps a better answer for royalty (and the Lord Mayor) is exactly the same proposal that is often put forward for the BBC. Let's move away from having a licence fee for royalty and go to a subscription basis. If you want the royals, you pay for them. If you don't want them, you don't pay.

Of course those who pay need to get something in return. Free entry to a raffle to go to a garden party or something. A royal channel on Sky. But I think it would make the situation fairer. Moaners like me couldn't complain about taxpayers money being wasted on these chinless wonders (not to mention the one who peddles homeopathy and such), but those who want them can pay to keep their antics.

Of course, we might find that those who are all in favour become less so when they have to sign up for their direct debit. But perhaps I am being cynical. I'm sure they will feel it's worth every penny.

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