Jonathan Pie on the British royal family and their swans


He captures some my own feelings about the family that I expressed yesterday. This was from a year ago at the time of the latest wedding involving that bunch of parasites.


I did not know until he said so that all the swans in England are owned by the Queen unless they have a special mark which shows that you have purchased the right to own one from the Queen.

Today, it’s rare for swan to be served, but for hundreds of years in England, eating swan was a mark of status. No one could own or eat one without paying the monarchy for the privilege, and an elaborate system of marks developed to track swan rights. By default, though, the king or queen owned the country’s swans, and that’s still true: Any unmarked swans swimming in the open waters of England belong to the Queen.

Swans were considered royal fowl, but by the beginning of the 15th century, wealthy people could buy the right to own, sell, and eat them. If you wanted to keep swans on your property (a right reserved for those who had property to begin with), you had to buy an expensive “swan mark” from the king, which you’d carve or brand into the beaks of your swans.

This tradition of royal swan ownership carries on today, though: The Queen still owns every unmarked mute swan—the white-feathered bird with a knob on its orange beak, the bird that you most likely think of when you think “swan”—on England’s open waters.

So the royal family are not just greedy parasites, they are bunch of weird, swan-owning, greedy parasites.

Comments

  1. jrkrideau says

    I suspect that you are not distinguishing between the Queen as a person and the Crown. I think we have a basic misunderstanding of how the Monarch (the Crown in Canadian terms) and HM the Queen work.

    Oh, and by the way, I was just thinking of Cadet Bonespurs and the Royal Family. One of the Queen’s sons spend an exciting holiday in the Falklands flying around in a helicopter trying to decoy Argentinian Exocet missiles away from RN ships. Harry, of Harry and Megan fame, spend a good amount of time on active duty with the British Army in Afghanistan only being withdrawn when some helpful British tabloid drew a bulls--eye on his back.

    The other son was wasting his time flying RAF Search and Rescue helicopters along the UK coast. Damn wastrel!

    Spoiled rich kids, yes, but at least they do something for the country. Hell, Her Majesty is a WWII veteran (this may account for her mad driving).

    Please get back to me when Bill Gates or Steven Jobs’s children have even that much public service. We will not wait on President Trump and family. And as an earlier poster put it, when those freeloading international corporations pay any taxes.

    We should also notice that constitutional monarchies seem to be rather stable political entities (UK seems to be doing its damnest to refute this) and coups, etc, seem rare.

    I tend to feel sorry for the monarch and his/her immediate family. They get to do all sorts of boring things and are pursued by crazed paparazzi but it comes with the job.

  2. says

    BTW, it’s not just swans. The Queen also has the right to any sturgeon landed in the UK. She usually waives this right.

    But describing the UK royal family as greedy parasites is certainly unfair.

  3. says

    jrkrideau @#1

    The other son was wasting his time flying RAF Search and Rescue helicopters along the UK coast. Damn wastrel!

    So, the rich spoiled brat actually lifted his finger to do something useful once in a while. Congratulations! Now the country owes him billions of pounds to pay for his fucking wedding ceremonies and castles. It’s incredible how low the bar has fallen for these royal assholes. Look, if the Great Britain needed more helicopter pilots, they could just hire the average Joe who could learn the necessary skills and do the job just as well for just a fraction of the “salary” the royal brat is getting. Even if every now and then the royal assholes actually manage to do something useful, they are being immensely overpaid. Instead of funding a single royal brat who flies a single rescue helicopter, the country could fund dozens of helicopters with the average Joe as the pilot. Any elected president could do the job of the queen for a much lower salary. Any average Joe could learn to pilot a rescue helicopter for, you guessed it, a hell lot smaller salary.

    Hell, Her Majesty is a WWII veteran

    And somehow it just happened that she avoided getting sent to the front of the worst battlefields, she never got used as a cannon fodder, she never suffered even a fraction of the pain that the average Joe who was a victim of obligatory conscription had to go through. Is the fucking majesty one of the veterans who suffered from shell shock and had been denied sufficient medical care? Of course not.

    Please get back to me when Bill Gates or Steven Jobs’s children have even that much public service. We will not wait on President Trump and family.

    “The royal brats are more useful than Trump’s children” is an incredibly low bar.

    I tend to feel sorry for the monarch and his/her immediate family. They get to do all sorts of boring things and are pursued by crazed paparazzi but it comes with the job.

    They are fucking billionaires! They have lived lives of luxury. On this planet we have millions of people who die of starvation. There are billions of wage slaves who work 80 hour workweeks and still cannot make ends meet. Look at those workers who live in Asia and make clothes for pennies so that we the rich people could buy them cheaply! Look at their living conditions. I strongly recommend to to reserve your sympathy for people who actually suffer in their lives. The royal brats are the last people on Earth for whom you should feel sorry.

    Incidentally, if the royal assholes really wanted what’s best for their country, they’d just resign and end the monarchy. They would just abolish their titles and donate all their money and properties to charity. They could choose to do so, but of course they never will, because being a member of the royal family means a life of luxury and free money at the taxpayer’s expense. If you want to feel sorry for some person, you could start with those impoverished people who struggle to survive and actually have no choice about what to do with their lives.

  4. says

    UK Royal finances aren’t as simple as “free money at the taxpayer’s expense”.

    Currently, none of the Royals receive money from the government except the Queen. She receives the “Sovereign Grant”, which is a proportion of the income from the Crown Estates, which are properties belonging to the Queen as Sovereign. Under a long standing arrangement, the Sovereign is no longer responsible for paying for the civil government, instead she gives the income from the Crown Estates to the government, and they give back a proportion to her. That proportion is currently 25%, or about £80 million. The Queen uses the money for the upkeep of royal residences, paying staff, and supporting her family.

    In addition, the Queen has personal property from which she derives some private income on which she pays income tax.
    The Prince of Wales also has private income, which he uses for his own expenses and his childrens’.

    The royal family are certainly wealthy and privileged. But not even the Queen is a billionaire in her own right. Her net private assets are around $500 million. The Crown Estates are, of course, worth billions, but are not under the Queen’s personal control.

    If we abolished the monarchy, and the state took over the Crown Estates, leaving the Royals with only their personal private property, the country would save only the Sovereign Grant of about £80 million a year.

    Seriously, compared to the cost of running and funding Presidential campaigns every four years, the royal family is a bargain.

  5. John Morales says

    Andreas:

    So, the rich spoiled brat actually lifted his finger to do something useful once in a while. Congratulations!

    Indeed. There’s more merit to doing something useful when one doesn’t have to than to doing it due to necessity.

    Now the country owes him billions of pounds to pay for his fucking wedding ceremonies and castles.

    Tsk. That is not a consequence; that entitlement was there all along.

    It’s incredible how low the bar has fallen for these royal assholes. Look, if the Great Britain needed more helicopter pilots, they could just hire the average Joe who could learn the necessary skills and do the job just as well for just a fraction of the “salary” the royal brat is getting.

    It’s not like all helicopter pilots are Royals, it it?
    (Also, I doubt rescue helicopter pilots are average Janes)

    [skip some of the diatribe]

    If you want to feel sorry for some person, you could start with those impoverished people who struggle to survive and actually have no choice about what to do with their lives.

    Acknowledging relative merit where relative merit is due is hardly feeling sorry for the relatively meritorious one.

  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    Andreas @3: I hope you write at least as passionately about the Russian oligarchs and their pet Putin. In terms of parasitism, and their effects on their people, they make the royals look like amateurs.

    Oh, and then there are American families like the Sacklers, who made billions from the opioid crisis which they played a part in creating. Personally, I’d rather have tea with the Windsors.

  7. Holms says

    …the white-feathered bird with a knob on its orange beak, the bird that you most likely think of when you think “swan” …

    Ahem.

  8. jrkrideau says

    @ 7 Holms
    Great shot. I believe HM gave the city of Ottawa some black swans many years ago. Due to some hanky-panky with the locals we now have some grey ones.

  9. file thirteen says

    @Rob et al

    Andreas is understandably annoyed at the privileged position the royals hold at taxpayer expense. I myself really don’t care how nice they might be while they continue to profit in that way, or that there are evil rich pricks in the world that the Windsors compare favourably to, or even that they would still be rich if their special status was removed. Any privileges not available to any are inherently unfair and unjustifiable. Not to mention that stories of their lives bore me to the point of madness.

  10. says

    @file thirteen

    “Any privileges not available to any are inherently unfair and unjustifiable”

    So children should be removed from parents at birth, so they can all be raised with the same privileges? Inherited privileges seems inescapable otherwise. Why should some children have caring, involved parents, while some have abusive ones?

  11. alanuk says

    Again, I must object to some of the above. If you object to the monarchy or to some member of the royal family, at least get your facts right.

    Prince Harry was an Air Ambulance pilot. The English Air Ambulance service receives no Government support -- it provides the NHS medical staff but this does not include the pilot. Prince Harry received the normal salary for the job but opted to donate the money to charity.

    Do not confuse this job with that of a pizza delivery driver (an honourable occupation):

    [How do I become an air ambulance pilot UK?
    To fly helicopters for a living, you’ll need to be 18 and hold a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL(H)) issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). To get on to a CPL(H) training course you’ll usually need: GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent, including English, maths or science.]

    Obviously his military helicopter training and experience in air-sea rescue was a good starting point.

    Prince Philip saw active service in the Royal Navy during the 2nd World War. His mother took in some Jews and hid them in her home in Athens during the Nazi occupation of Greece.

    The present Queen served in the in the ATS, the Auxiliary Territorial Service, an auxiliary branch of the army for women.

    I could go on but these facts can easily be looked up. And do try to be polite.

  12. John Morales says

    Paul, I think file thirteen refers to statutory privileges, not to contingent ones.

  13. says

    For everybody here who wants to kiss the royal asses, you are welcome to do so. However, if you actually want to convince somebody that the ridiculous sums of money that are being wasted on that family are worth every penny, you will have to figure out better arguments than simply “they are more useful than Trump’s kids” or “every now and then some of them actually lift their finger and do something useful.” You would need an argument why it is worth paying millions of pounds to sustain this flock of spoiled brats instead of getting rid of them and hiring somebody else who would be willing to do the exact same job for a lot smaller salary.

    John Morales @#5

    There’s more merit to doing something useful when one doesn’t have to than to doing it due to necessity.

    I disagree. With this kind of logic we would have to conclude that every single rich kid who actually bothers to lift their finger to do even a single useful thing in their entire lifetime automatically becomes a paragon of virtue whose merit exceeds that of all those impoverished people who, gasp, actually need to work in order to earn a living. Thus highest merit is automatically reserved only for those who are wealthy and thus don’t need to work.

    Rob Grigjanis @#6

    I hope you write at least as passionately about the Russian oligarchs and their pet Putin. In terms of parasitism, and their effects on their people, they make the royals look like amateurs.

    The level of whataboutism in your comment is ridiculous. “Other even worse problems exist in the world, therefore we shouldn’t be spending our time trying to solve this problem” is not an argument. With this kind of attitude I could start trolling you every single time you write even a single word about something that’s not related to the climate change. How dare you waste your time typing comments that defend the British royal family when the entire planet is on the verge of becoming largely uninhabitable? Do you want to speak about something that’s not the climate change? Then come back to me once humanity has solved that issue, until then we are only discussing CO2 in the atmosphere and we won’t talk about any other problems.

    You have no right to tell me what I should be thinking or writing about. The fact that Putin is worse than the British queen in no way proves that she isn’t a problem worth tackling. The fact that Trump’s kids are even worse in no way proves that British royal kids are good. The fact that you can find some dictator who is even worse than the British queen in no way proves that she is a good deal for her country. I see her as a huge waste of money.

    Incidentally, I do want to see all monarchs, oligarchs, and dictators dethroned, disposed of, and jailed, if necessary even murdered (some of them don’t go down easily as long as they remain alive). The fact that I might want to see Putin jailed in no way changes the fact I also want to see the British royal family dethroned with all their properties taken away from them.

    Paul Durrant @#10

    So children should be removed from parents at birth, so they can all be raised with the same privileges? Inherited privileges seems inescapable otherwise.

    Your “argument” is simply reductio ad absurdum. The discussion isn’t about whether children should be separated from parents at birth. The discussion we are having here is about whether royal titles make sense. Hint: they don’t.

    Some children getting privileges due to their parents wealth or status is unfair. Thus we should combat this unfairness within reasonable limits. Taking all kids away from parents and putting them in orphanages would only increase childhood suffering, thus we cannot do that. Stripping away royal titles and eliminating hereditary aristocracy is perfectly possible (most European countries have already done exactly that and it seems to be working just fine), thus also the UK could potentially do that.

    alanuk @#11

    So, you gave a list of some useful things various members of the British royal family have done throughout their lives. Great, but how do these facts prove that they deserve a life of luxury and millions of pounds in salary? Like I said, there have been countless other Air Ambulance pilots who weren’t royals and who did the exact same job just as well for a lot smaller salary.

    And do try to be polite.

    I haven’t been impolite to any person in this comment thread. My insults are directed purely towards the British royal family. I believe hereditary monarchy is immensely wrong. I dislike every monarch, oligarch, and tyrant out there. I despise them all. I would love to see them dethroned, stripped of their property, and jailed. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to happen. The only thing I can do is insult the whole lot. Thus verbal lèse-majesté is the only way how I can express my disgust towards all of these assholes. Fuck Putin. Fuck Donald Trump. Fuck all the billionaires who are lobbying for shitty laws. Fuck the British queen. Fuck her spoiled bratty children. Fuck all the princes and princesses out there. If I believed in a just God, I’d pray for all of them to burn in hell. Since I’m an atheist, I believe the world will remain forever unjust and these rich spoiled assholes will keep on wearing diamond crowns while the rest of the society suffers in poverty and experiences daily abuse.

    You don’t get to tell me that I have to be polite towards all these shitty and pathetic excuses for human beings whom I despise. They haven’t done anything to earn my respect or politeness.

  14. Rob Grigjanis says

    Andreas @13: You can write about whatever you want, and I can respond to it. And vice versa.

    Re “whataboutism”. Well, yes, if part of your argument is about wasting money, and juxtaposing the opulence of the royals with the suffering of others, you’re inviting whataboutism. Particularly since you’re basically pissing in the wind as long as 75% of Brits want to keep the Windsors. There are much more feasible solutions to the suffering you’re concerned about.

    By all means, troll me about whatever you want. If I think it’s just pointless trolling, I’ll ignore it.

  15. John Morales says

    Andreas @13,

    John Morales @#5

    There’s more merit to doing something useful when one doesn’t have to than to doing it due to necessity.

    I disagree. With this kind of logic we would have to conclude that every single rich kid who actually bothers to lift their finger to do even a single useful thing in their entire lifetime automatically becomes a paragon of virtue whose merit exceeds that of all those impoverished people who, gasp, actually need to work in order to earn a living. Thus highest merit is automatically reserved only for those who are wealthy and thus don’t need to work.

    So, you see no greater moral merit in a prince who serves than in a prince who does not serve.

    I feel you have revealed yourself with your hyperbole, however. You go more by your gut than by your intellect. Very sloppy.

    Anyway. By avoiding that logic on the basis of its purported consequence, you have vitiated the concept of altruism being morally meritorious.

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