It’s understandable that, with budget cuts as they are, questions should be asked. Is it really a sensible proposal that £60m of public money is spent on a nice yacht for Elizabeth II and her hubby to sail around in? (I imagine most of their time will be spent standing at the side and waving to penguins or whales or whatever else they come across on their travels.)
(Actually, the answer should be: YES, with any other answer regarded as nigh-on treasonous.)
It is understandable why some have been left confused though. Cold-hearted cynics speaking out against the purchase have blatantly used a bogus equivalency to the £60m to muddy our minds.
They claim that the cash could pay the wages of several thousand teachers – without mentioning that this would only be for a year.
Spread across the entire nation, that sort of investment would be about as effective as buying each child in the land a pack of cards and some poker chips, then letting them get on with it so that they can learn some transferable life skills. (That tactic would also benefit from some high-profile sponsorship from the betting industry, meaning that we may well come out of the deal quids-in. Then we could equip our Lizzie with a jet-ski and lifejacket too!)
A far, far better way to think about the £60m is that it’s just under a pound each for everyone in the entire country.
Just under a quid for a yacht? What a bargain! (You rarely see that sort of deal in Poundland.) When thinking of presents for elderly relatives I usually set aside at least a tenner for some sort of quaint-looking piece of kitchenware from Debenhams that’s imprinted with the images of rhododendrons.
When you think about what a tiny contribution it really is, you should really find it in yourself – as a human being for goodness’ sake – to agree that it’s the least we can do in terms of paying tribute to someone with possibly the most depressing and useless high-profile job in the entire country.
Because let’s face it, everyone realises that her role is as nothing more than a pointless figurehead, a relic from the past, and nowadays we can’t pretend that there’s some sort of reason for her to be where she is. (Well, other than the odd detail that old people still find her vaguely comforting, and that her and her family’s presence actually boosts tourism, even though when we go abroad none of us decide which place to go to by examining which has the silliest named monarch or the most dysfunctional royal family.)
For whatever menial jobs those on minimum wage may do, at least they can slope off and hide from it. Not ol’ Queenie, oh no. Over the past few years she’s had to watch her home country slide into ruin, while everybody watches her react impassively, many consequently judging her negatively. (And most ignorant of the fact that as head of state she’s not allowed to express even a vaguely political viewpoint).
Assuming that she entertains thoughts about trying to help the citizens that she obviously cares for – even if she isn’t in possession of the most emotive personality – what can she do?
By fate of circumstance – because of who she was born as rather than due to any choices she’s made – there’s absolutely no way in which the Queen can effect positive change, even while she appears on Christmas Day TV to give a speech to the nation as a highly visible (yet completely impotent) figurehead.
In a sense Liz is a bit like a cheerleader at an American football match, except that she’s too old to do any handstands – and even if she wasn’t they’d be against ‘etiquette’. Instead she has to look stern-faced, trying not to enjoy the wealth bestowed upon her too much, and constantly having her very existence sniped at even though she’d never be allowed to fight back, thanks to the royal duty she has so nobly clung to for almost 60 achingly boring years. (Ultra-marathon runners will never come close to matching that feat of endurance.)
The Queen isn’t even allowed to resign, not with any dignity anyway – she has to wait until her own death before she can think of enjoying a retirement plan (which I guess must therefore consist entirely of okaying her own funeral arrangements). As a mother she no doubt sees the pain it has caused her own son not to have been able to take up position as King before public opinion turned against him, instead favouring his own son William (even before he hooked up with Kate). Then there’s all those other petty family squabbles that she has to bear witness to. So much for enjoying the sunset of her life.
So with all that in mind, what on earth is wrong with packing her off on a nice cruise in new gleaming yacht? The Saga set love that sort of thing, and even if it seems like quite an expense then it’s not as though it’s a short-term luxury. Just look at the 43-year lifespan of the previous HMY Britannia as an example of how long the new yacht would be used for, during which time it could play a useful purpose in wining and dining foreign dignitaries, taking the royal family on visits around the world and generally standing up as an example of how great the United Kingdom can be. (Should Scotland become independent, President Salmond could still nick it a month a year to sail off to the Bahamas and top up his tan.)
But mainly, imagine Lizzie’s joy! Perhaps she would stand at the bow of the ship (I think that’s what the front bit might be called), shouting “I’m the Queen of the world!” while Phillip audibly ponders to himself whether it would be such a bad thing to give her a wee nudge over. Such is the sort of delightful scenario that (royal) family memories should be made of – and it’s only fair that we give her a couple more golden moments like that after almost six decades of loyal service.
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