01/31/2014 11:21 EST | Updated 04/02/2014 05:59 EDT

It's Time For Canada To Cut Off The Queen


God, the Queen must save.

That's the decree in a new report from a U.K. House of Commons committee tasked with overseeing the royal finances.

You see, Queen Liz's reserve fund is down to its last million pounds. The palaces are crumbling. The advisors are making an awful mess of the budget. And no matter how hard the royals try, they just can't seem to cut spending.

I say, let the Queen go bankrupt. It can't happen soon enough. The last thing the Commonwealth or Canada needs is a costly reminder of a period when an aristocratic elite ruled supreme -- especially in an age in which a plutocratic elite rules supreme. The royals, after all, were the original 1 per cent.

Of course, there is little actual risk of royal ruination. The Queen received £31 million pounds ($57 million) from the U.K. Treasury in 2012-13, as well as generating £11.6 million ($21 million) in "other" income. And the amount of funding the monarch receives is guaranteed to increase every year. In 2013-14 Elizabeth will receive £36.1 million ($67 million) from the British taxpayer. That's a lot of corgis.

But those are the government numbers. When you take other costs into consideration, such as security and her special tax status, estimates for the cost of the monarchy can jump to as high as £200 million ($368 million) per year.

In short, the Queen is still pretty flush. And Canada is doing its part to reward the royals for, well, being born.

The federal government doesn't contribute to paying for the Queen's fleet of Bentleys, Jaguars and Land Rovers, but it does cover the cost of royal visits. In 2011, we contributed $1.2 million (not including security) to help the royals rebrand via Will and Kate's official visit.

It seems the royals are well aware that the public is (or was) tiring of paying for Charles to play polo. The less-than-charming Prince was never particularly adept at doing the one thing that keeps the monarchy around -- posing for pretty photos that feed the public's voyeuristic obsession with wealth. Because, as Lorde says, "we'll never be royals" ourselves.

Hence the global campaign to recast the monarchy as new, attractive, glamorous and considerably less inbred. And much of the public has enthusiastically embraced Will, Kate and baby George.

But there are signs of dissent. Lorde scored the best song Grammy for "Royals" on Sunday. The track is an astute critique of our culture's obsession with the trappings of wealth and the lyrics tell the story of a change in the air.

"It don't run in our blood / That kind of luxe just ain't for us."

I was relieved to see that Lorde may be right. There are 138,000,000 Google hits for "Occupy Wall Street." "The Royal Baby"? 30,800,000.'

There's no reason Canadians should indulge in the curious human habit of celebrating the rich and powerful people who oppress us. The case is even stronger when it comes to the royals because they've done nothing to earn their status. At least Kim Kardashian has made some pretty noteworthy videos.

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Queen Elizabeth II's Crowns

We long ago decided that monarchical rule was barbarous and yet we cling to the scraps. Let's leave this part of the past where it belongs: in the dustbin of history.

I'm not saying Canada should try to amend the Constitution and become a republic. It's not worth the trouble. But we should stop paying for publicity tours. And let's use our coins and banknotes to celebrate people who've actually done something good for humanity. Let's stop glorifying the the descendants of a caste that has done so much to expand global misery and so little to expand the gene pool.

But Stephen Harper and the Conservatives are actually doing everything in their power to move us in the opposite direction. At every turn they seek to emphasize Canada's connection to the Queen and her brood. The government set aside a whopping $7.5 million to celebrate Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.

One angry Canadian's letter expressed it best: "I think she is quite capable of paying for her own birthday party."

As another Canadian pointed out, the money for the Jubilee would have been much better spent on health care or social housing.

But it seems, as "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" brilliantly observed, that when it comes to spending taxpayers' money, the Tories have a lot of in common with the royals.

We let it happen. Many of us actually encourage it. All because some perverse impulse drives us to respect authority even when it hasn't been earned.

When I was a teen, a strange twist of fate landed me at a private lunch with Prince Edward. I was terrified. I cut my salad with a knife and fork.

Now, Edward has made some lovely documentaries and struck me as a perfectly nice, if slightly old-fashioned, chap. But my awe of him was all out of proportion. I behaved like a frightened vassal. I feel nothing but embarrassment about it.

Today, I would take a pass and tell Eddie to buy lunch for someone less fortunate. Better yet, give up the public funding and come join the other 99 per cent.

Follow Michael Bolen on Twitter


The Life Of Queen Elizabeth II

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