Theodore Brita

Over the last 18 months, the British royal family has frequently been in the news. From Queen Elizabeth’s death to her son Charles’ ascension to the throne, it has been a relatively turbulent period for the Windsor family. In the most recent saga, rumors have swirled about the King’s health as well as Princess Kate Middleton’s apparent disappearance over the last two months. It was ultimately revealed that the Princess of Wales, like the King, has been diagnosed with cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. Before Middleton’s official announcement, social media had been rife with jokes speculating the reason for her mysterious disappearance from the public eye, which became especially distasteful once her absence was explained. Much of this discourse came from media, as one royal-watcher labeled the princess a “chaos-bringer” and a “global figure of humiliation and mockery.” Despite this and numerous other instances, many still believe that the royal family deserves admiration and respect. This could not be further from the truth. They do little to improve public welfare in Britain, frequently make life hellish for those who marry into the family and have a highly checkered historical legacy.

In the second half of 2023, the British economy fell into a recession and showed signs that the quality of life in the United Kingdom was set to decline between elections for the first time since the second World War. The cost-of-living crisis combined with increasing inflation means that life for the average Briton appears set to grow only harder in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the British royal family has made it extremely difficult for British politicians and journalists to investigate just how much public money they spend and use. For instance, the royal family is the only group in Great Britain who do not have to publish public wills when they die. The British government also refuses to disclose how much public money is spent on security for the royal family, despite heads of state in other western states disclosing this. One only needs to Google royal family spending scandal to see just how common these scandals are. The royal family’s use of taxpayer money frequently feels excessive, especially given the current state of the British economy, when such funds could be used to help common people who are struggling.

The royal family has often made life extremely difficult for people, especially women, who marry into it. Middleton stepped back from the public eye to treat her cancer diagnosis and was pilloried for it. The racism Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, faced from members of the Royal Family and the British press was so appalling that she and Prince Harry stepped down as senior royals in 2020. During her interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021, Markle revealed that members of the royal family had questioned her about the skin color of her unborn child. Princess Diana of Wale’s time in the royal family was highly tumultuous as well and ended with her death in a car crash after trying to escape the paparazzi in Paris, France. The obvious pattern of women being blamed for larger problems within the royal family should be reason alone to condemn the Windsors. Unfortunately, Middleton’s recent saga shows that this is unlikely to change any time soon.

The royal family’s checkered historical legacy is another clear stain on their ledger. Until 1968, Queen Elizabeth refused to appoint “coloured immigrants or foreigners” to clerical roles and, instead, confined them to work as domestic servants. The British monarchy’s ties with the violent colonial project that was the British empire are also clear. Queen Elizabeth oversaw the process of decolonization, but it was a process that left many former colonial states worse off than they were before. Between 1970 and 2015, 30 African countries lost nearly two trillion dollars in what is known as “capital flight,” which is far greater than the $991 billion in aid that they received. Many former colonial states in Africa and beyond are still struggling to recover from the imperialism that the British royal family facilitated and benefitted from.

The British royal family does not deserve your veneration or respect. If anything, it deserves your condemnation. The royals are an archaic institution that represents the worst of the past and nothing good about the present. It is difficult to see exactly what purpose they serve in today’s world. It is time for us all to have a real conversation about the Windsors that is not full of gossip and insinuation, but rather is a real reckoning about their place in the world.

Theodore Brita is a senior majoring in political science.

Views expressed in the opinions pages represent the opinions of the columnists. The only piece which represents the views of the Pipe Dream Editorial Board is the Staff Editorial.