The Cost of Kings.
Maoriland Worker, Volume 1, Issue 2, 15 October 1910, Page 5
The Cost of Kings.
(By Victor Grayson, in " The Clarion."
We heartily commend the action of the Labour members in protesting against the heavj* sums of money provided in the Civil List for members of the Royal Family. In our opinion their main criticism Avas on right lines. While the Monarchy exists as an accepted national institution, it is our obvious duty to pay for its upkeep; and, furthermore, since love of ceremonial flummeries is so salient a part of our national character, Aye must be prepared, as Mr. Balfour said, to do it handsomely. If Aye will Avallow in costly Court pantomimes, aac must pay without Avhining. We have no objection to the King being paid a salary proportionate to the supposed dignity of his position; but the receipt of such adequate salary should bar the monarch from owning and drawing rents from private property. The sum of £470,000 per year should leave the King free from financial anxiety, especially if he is the paragon of thrift and moderation which our loyal ncAspapers would have us believe. He has not to support his AvidoAA-ed mother, as the State proA'ides her Avith a comfortable pension of £70,000 a year for life. He has not to provide for his Avife, as, in the oA'ent of the King's decease, Queen Mary Avill receive £70,000 per year. He need not bother about the Prince of Wales, aa'lio is now only sixteen, and the OAvner of the Duchy of Corn- Avall, which yields him £87,000 per year. This AA'ill accumulate during the Prince's minority, so that by the time he is tA'enty-one he will recei-e nearly half a million " savings," and the annual income to folloAA*. Even then the AA'if'e who marries him will receive a premium of £10,000 per year, and, should she survive him, a further pension of £30,000 a year. Each of the King's other sons, on reaching twenty-one, Avill receive £10,000 petyear, and at marriage an extra £15,000 per year, which brings their annual State income up to £25,000 per year. Each of the King's daughters, on attaining her majority, AA'ill receive £6,000 per year. All this apart from the cost to the State of AA-hat Mr. Barnes called the" decorative officials " of the Royal Household, the " parasites battening on the nation under the shadOAv of the Throne." When Aye consider, in addition to* this little bill, the grants made the family connections, and the fact that the King must be crowned at great expense, and buried at greater expense, and that the expense for the family funerals usually fall upon the nation, we may begin dimly to realise that Monarchy is rather an expensiveluxury. The Liberals and Tories hoAA-led wildly at Mr. Keir Hardie when he tamely suggested that the- King's sons and daughters would be able to lead lives of idleness, luxury, and ease. But if they think that free gifts of largo sums per annum are incentives to industry, we have misunderstood their philosophy. Or do they think that " signing their names in large round characters," or "' making sumptuous blots " in Visitors' Books, constitute an equivalent of service for the money received ? . Taking a,ll things into consideration, AA-e must admit that the figures of the Civil List compel serious thought on the institution of Monarchy. The costly, vulgar, and altogether hideous display of the late King's funeral makes us Avonder Avhether Aye could survive such another. The present shameless attempts to whitewash and deify a commonplace personality, the inevitable bull's-eyes, " exactly in the centre of the target," surprise visits to village school-children, the robust preference of spades and barrows for gold trowels and caskets in planting rose trees and laying foundationstone — : if the sloppy Press imagines that this puerile make-believe imposes upon the modern public, it Avill find to its chagrin that the " big child " is " too old " to bloAv the Avatch-case open. We are in daily dread that AA'hen the officials present the King AA'ith a gold, jeAA-elled key "to open something, he Avill AA-ave it aside and prefer to slioav them lioaa- he can pick the lock. The public is growing up A-ery quickly, and the zealous promulgators of Monarchy had better realise it. Also, Avhen the Avorkers are as particular about the inspection of their bill as are their capitalist brethren, there AA-ill be a reduction of staff.
A teacher was conducting a lesson in history. " Tommy Jones," she said, " Avhat was there about George Washington which distinguished him from all other famous Americans?" "He didn't tell a lie," was the prompt answer.