Parliament's Public Accounts Committee said the Royals have blown cash but not repaired the palace
Parliament's Public Accounts Committee said the Royals have blown cash but not repaired the palace Reuters

Every now and then we get inevitable complaints that Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family are the nation's most successful benefits scroungers. Today is no exception thanks to the Public Accounts Committee's claim that public money granted to the Royal Family is not being spent as well as it could be.

No doubt there is some truth in this. Indeed one can only hope that soon the Royal Family can be as lean and efficient as, say, the National Health Service (Peace Be Upon It) is. Perhaps one day we might even get the same great value for money from the Royals that we do from the House of Commons.

Until that day comes however it is apparently necessary to point out why the Queen is not a benefits scrounger and why she is worth every penny and more.

The first complaint we get about the Queen is that she was born into her position and so has done nothing to earn the taxpayer funding she receives.

Well it's certainly true that she was born into a position of wealth and privilege. But is this not the case for many if not most of the people up and down the country who are well off. How many lawyers, doctors, businessmen and even journalists are in relative comfort thanks to the fact that they were born to rich, well connected and educated parents? It may be unfair but it's also the phenomenon known as "life".

The only way to get around this inconvenient fact would be to strip everyone born into a half-way decent family of any advantages they might have in wealth and position. Last century experiments of this kind were conducted without much success but with considerable bloodshed and if we're going to do it to the royals we should do it to everyone.

The next move of the critics is to describe the monarch as a layabout who does nothing while costing a huge amount of money.

But neither of these are true. The Queen and her husband are renowned for the amount of time they put into their royal duties despite advancing age.

As to the cost. The Queen cost the taxpayer around £33 million last year, which amounts to around 0.005% of government spending. When one remembers the fact that by surrendering the Crown Estate the Royal Family put £231 into government coffers last year alone it becomes pretty clear that like most of us poor over-taxed Britons Her Majesty puts in far more than she gets out.

Similarly Prince Charles receives around a million pounds a year from the government, but himself pays around £4 million in tax.

So the idea that the Queen is a scrounger like the notorious inhabitants of Benefits Street really does not stack up.

However even if the Queen did cost a vast sum of money she would still be worth every penny and more. We are not paying for someone to live an extravagant lifestyle but we are paying to maintain a key part of British identity and history. We are paying for the institution no matter who happens to be holding it.

The monarchy is one of the few things left in this country that has the ability to bring people together regardless of race, religion and background. Even the SNP want to keep the Queen! Surely at a time of increased social tension and fragmentation between rich and poor, immigrant and native and north and south 0.005 per cent of taxpayer money is not a huge price to pay for a bit of national unity?