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An Open Letter to John Oliver: Get Real About Monarchy

John, let me begin by saying how much I enjoy your show, Last Week Tonight. Your political satire is absolutely hilarious. You
are one of the best satirists in the business, and with that comes a lot of power to influence the discourse in the United States 640px-Royal_Standard_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg

and abroad. We agree on many things, such as how utterly asinine pennies have become (and nickels for that matter). From Puerto Rican statehood, to lead in municipal water supplies, to US colonies… I mean “territories” having unequal rights, to for-profit judicial monitoring, credit reports, televangelists, tobacco marketing, and elected judges, we agree on most everything. You have even educated me on important issues of which I wasn’t even aware. Here is the “but”. Your views on monarchy are not funny, not in the least because I disagree with them, but they seem to be based on an animosity toward the person of the Sovereign.

Calling The Queen of England “decorative” demonstrates a lack of knowledge with regard to the royal prerogative, not to mention that Queen Anne was the last true Queen of England since the Act of Union 1707. Why does an American have to tell you this? Also, in 1975, the Australian Government was dismissed using the royal prerogative because they were behaving similar to how the US Congress behaves when they fail to fund the government. “Decorative” is not a word that I would use to describe Her Majesty. I think “self restrained” is a far more accurate description.

Saying that Game of Thrones has more impact on the lives of her subjects than she does is also ludicrous. The existence of Game of Thrones doesn’t net the British taxpayer a refund on their income taxes. According to Brand Finance, the monarchy netted the British economy £1,155 million during 2015. Assuming 29.3 million taxpayers in the UK, that’s a £39.4 per taxpayer per annum profit. Now take that money and go buy yourself a season DVD pack of Game of Thrones and thank The Queen. Republic’s counter-analysis should not be given any serious consideration because they don’t understand that the revenues from the Crown Estate, which belongs to the… you guessed it… Crown, is essentially taxed at 85%. The remaining 15% goes to the Sovereign Grant, which is money that is used to fund the Royal Household and its employees. In other words, the Crown pays for itself to work.

Saying The Queen serves no practical purpose in the modern era is ridiculous. The Queen’s purpose is to provide a nonpartisan check on the elected House of Commons, which has unlimited power without a codified constitution. Would you really want an elected Head of State? Heads of state, like judges, function better when they are not subject to a popularity contest. You said it yourself, “Elections are inherently compromising, because campaigns costs money, and that money has to come from somewhere.”

When disabled Syrian refugee, Noujain Mustaffa, 16, said it was her dream to meet The Queen, you made an off-color remark about The Queen not being “a real human with feelings.” A little too personal, don’t you think? Why don’t you have respect for her personally? I’m not asking for deference, just basic courtesy. Is a 90-year-old great-grandmother, who still works full-time, and a World War II veteran something not to be respected or admired?

Do you understand that there’s more to the trappings of monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II lived a middle-class existence before she inherited a job whose intrinsic stress slowly killed her father. She is one of the last great examples of permanent indentured servitude. She is serving a life sentence in a gilded cage, just so that she can continue to serve her country until her last breath. Talk about sacrifice.

I respect your position as a republican, but really John, you should lay off The Queen. Or at least get your writers to come up with some better jokes other than the Donald Trump-ish insults you lob her way. If you want to have a discussion on how failed monarchies ultimately failed their subjects, or whether absolute monarchism is more unstable than constitutional monarchism, then let us have that discussion. As far as I can tell, the British monarchy is one of the most successful institutions of state in the world. It has fostered a political environment which has given the British people the National Health Service as early as the 1940s, something that the American republic has failed to do to this day.

And speaking of an American republic… it’s not that republican. Bush, Adams, Rockefeller, Clinton, Kennedy, Paul, Cuomo, Daley… do those names sound familiar? They’re all American political dynasties that have been elected. Without a strong hereditary head of state, the American oligarchy is free to acquire as much power as it wants, which ends up negating the democratic process. That was the chief cause of the War of the Roses, but I digress. Perhaps you and the rest of the United States should get real about the institution of constitutional monarchy. I would be thrilled to take Queen Elizabeth II any day over my two choices this November.