Just read an article from The Upshot about how the Queen (England, you ignorant Yank) has canceled this year’s Christmas Party at The Buck, her London townhouse, in a gracious nod to the hard times, as one of those British scribes might have put it, now plaguing her subjects. No, not quite on the Black Death level … yet. “Given the current economic climate, it was thought that it was appropriate for the household to show restraint,” a royal spokesman said.
Jolly good show. It’s heart warming. It’s inspiring. It’s also bullshit.
The party is held every two years, and is intended for Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, to show their appreciation for their private staff of around 600 hard working souls. It’s a bit of dinner, a round of drinks, some music, and a few laughs. In past years, the royal couple are said to have even condescended to shake a leg with footmen and maids. All jolly good fun.
And for all of that, the exchequer saved about 50,000 pounds, some 80,000 dollars. Probably less than Elizabeth dropped in tips on her latest visit to Canada and the U.S. Oh, wait a minute! I forgot, celebrities, billionaires and world leaders aren’t expected to tip, other than a nod of their regal heads, which should be more than enough compensation for those who swoon to serve.
But did you notice the important part? The people who really suffered the loss were actually her hard working staff, who may or may not get paid above the average annual wage, but it’s like a corporation cutting out the Christmas party and saying they conserved after paying the top executives massive bonuses. After all, you don’t think the royal household is going to cut back on any of those important state dinners, do you? And guess who gets to slave their tired asses off late into the night cleaning up afterward?
I can just imagine the next time President Obama pays a state visit to Buckingham Palace. “Sorry, Barack, old boy, it’s beef burgers and beer tonight. Belt tightening, don’t y’know!” Not a bloody chance.
These people don’t know how the great unwashed masses live. Anyone who gets elected to high office in the U.S. spends millions of their own money (no typo there) to win the office, so they’ve got the bucks to burn. If you think that’s an exaggeration, consider Meg Whitman currently spending upwards of $125 million of her own money to gain the $175,000 dollar a year office of governor of California. And you think any of the remaining royal families know a damn thing about earning a pound or a krona (Sweden) or a riyal (Saudi Arabia) to make a living?
But, the sad cancellation of the staff party notwithstanding, don’t think the poor Windors aren’t feeling the pinch lately. After all, the personal budget which covers the expenses of Elizabeth and her husband has not been raised since 1990-back when it was a mere 7.9 million pounds. The Queen has also reduced the number of chartered flights she’s taken, sold off one her helicopters, and reworn a few of those tiresome designer dresses in her closet. Showing a stiff upper lip, royal staff is also instructed to shut off the lights in empty palace rooms when not in use. While the Royal Household had considered supplementing its 1.5 million pound palace and mansion upkeep budget with government grants intended to provide home-heating funds for the poor, the idea was nixed because of the “adverse publicity” it might generate should it come to light, so to speak.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dumping on QEII. In fact, I think she’s done a remarkable job given the climate and limitations of her job description. She’s been at it for a long time, even longer than her namesake, and I’ll bet she’d love to dump the responsibility on someone younger and retire to some comfortable, quiet little country cottage-say Hampton Court. The problem is, she can’t find a suitable candidate, as all of her descendants have proven to be complete wastrels and screwups, except for one potential successor who had to marry into the family, and was truly devoted to doing good works and serving the needs of the people. Unfortunately, she had that little propensity for jetting about with, shall we say, “unauthorized escorts”, which led to her untimely demise. And for that little peccadillo, Liz and the entire family essentially snubbed the passing of the Lady Di.
The point is, these people don’t really even live on the same planet and you and me. While they may give it the old college try, their college is Oxford (automatic admission, don’t y’know) or Yale (thanks, Daddy), not State U, like me and you. And these are the people who control our lives?