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Topics - CHRISinUSA

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The Windsors / Government starts effort to change succession law
« on: October 12, 2011, 12:25:32 PM »
The AP is today reporting that David Cameron has written to the 15 other Commonwealth nations where the Queen is head of state, finally introducing a proposal to change the current laws of succession to allow the firstborn child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to succeed regardless of gender, and to scrap the ban on the monarch marrying a Catholic. 

While acknowledging it will be a complex effort, the prime minister said the time had come to begin the process.  He plans to discuss the proposal when he meets with leaders from Commonwealth countries in Australia later this month.

And so it begins........

The Windsors / Royal Security
« on: January 08, 2008, 08:28:28 AM »
After stories in a British tabloid about the reported 500,000 pounds annual cost of security for the two York princesses, an MP reportedly raised the issue on the floor of the Commons.  He suggested that the Duke of York should personally meet security costs for his daughters.  The MP was reminded that the topic of security was not to be debated on the floor of the House "for obvious reasons", and as expected, Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

The accompanying story said that the taxpayer should not have to pay to protect the princessess while they hop from one party and club to another, and that the entire royal security bill was in the range of 30 million pounds a year.  Finally, it said that the Duke of York vetoed a 2005 Scotland Yard suggestion of lowering the princesses' security efforts, while the children of the Princess Royal receive no protection.

This raised a few questions in my mind.  What are the rules for royal security?  If Anne could decide that her children should not have protection, could any other royal do the same?  I recall that Diana gave up her own personal security after the divorce - but that security was present whenever William and Harry were with her.  Do minor royals - such as the Kents and Gloucheters - receive security?  Is it just those holding the HRH status, or do non HRHs receive protection as well?

Another question is that who amongst the Government gets protection?  Clearly the Prime Minister and his family do - but which members of the Government, Commons and Lords?  Do their families likewise get protection?

In any event, 30 million pounds a year (which would be something like $70 million US) for security for the Head of State is a pittance when compared to what we in the US spend to guard the Bush and Cheyne families, the Clintons and Bush Seniors, Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Reagan, etc.   

As one singular example, when former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton recently spent a few hours at the commencement ceremony for the University of New Hampshire, it was reported that more than a dozen law enforcement and security agencies were involved in weeks of prior planning, and that during their appearance there were 170 security officers on the ground to protect them.

In another example, in September 1985, when then-President Ronald Reagan spoke from the New Hampshire State House steps about tax reform (and announced the release of a U.S. hostage in Lebanon), security was high and planning was detailed. Attendees passed through metal detectors. More than 60 state police secured the State House, rooftops and intersections along the path of the presidential motorcade, according to Monitor reports from the time. The Concord Police Department put all of its 65 officers on duty. In the city, school was cancelled for the day. "It took a week of planning by White House staff and state and city officials to bring President Ronald Reagan to Concord yesterday for a 15-minute speech," a Monitor reporter wrote after the visit.

The British are lucky they even have the ability to raise such questions in a public forum.  Our Congress doesn't ever debate such things - we simply pay the ever increasing bills.

The Windsors / The Annual Royal Financial Report
« on: July 05, 2006, 03:05:48 PM »
As has sadly become now a yearly event, we were last week treated to the annual financial report of the monarchy, and the inevitable backlash from the press over the expense of the Crown.

As per the Queen's website the monarchy (excluding security and military ceremonial) amounts to 37.4 million pounds - or $69 million US.   That covers maintaining the palaces, paying salaries for staff, all official entertaining, royal travel and engagements, ceremonial occasions, etc.

I thought it would be interesting to compare this against the costs of our US President.  The first thing I realized was that - unlike the British Monarchy - the US President doesn't have to release his expenses, and they are not so easily found.

Now, I realize that our president assumes the roles of both the British Prime Minister and the Monarch, and that as the leader of the world's largest superpower, one can expect Mr. Bush to be a tad more expensive than his counterparts around the globe.  That being said, however, I was a tad surprised by the figures I did manage to find...

According to a 2003 National Geographic interview with Ken Walsh, former White House Correspondent and author of a book on the subject, the annual cost of Air Force One is $130 million per year.  But wait - that covers only the cost of that single airplane, and does not include the dozens of other aircraft which always accompany a presidential trip bearing aides, limosuines, Secret Service, prior reconnaissance, etc.

In 2000, the GAO (General Accounting Office) found that President Clinton's three trips in 1998 to Chile, China, and Africa alone cost a total of $72 million -- of which $60.5 million, or 84 percent, came out of the U.S. defense budget. And these figures include only incremental costs to the government, expressly excluding such ongoing expenses as payroll. That's nearly the whole annual cost of the Crown.

It gets worse.  In 2004, USA Today wrote an article saying that the Air Force estimates it costs $56,800 per HOUR for presidential travel, and that President Bush logged 68,000 miles that year (an election year).  By my math, presidential travel cost US taxpayers $3.8 BILLION that year.  The White House, of course, refused to confirm even the slightest figures on the grounds of "security".  

Now let's add White House expenses.  According to the Appropriations Bill 2006, the White House budget is $184 million (excluding travel, security and a whole bunch of "other" expenses).  Of this, $54 million a year goes to run the Executive Office of the President, and $12.4 million goes for maintaining the White House Residence, utilities and official entertaining.

The Queen's quite a bargain, don't you think?

The Windsors / Royal Palaces in London (except Buckingham Palace)
« on: November 16, 2005, 08:43:02 AM »
After meandering around this topic on other threads, I thought I'd start this thread to mix two of my favorite topics - royalty and architecture - and to discuss the apartments and other official accomodations which the royal family occupy.   There is limited information available on this, I find.

Fortunately for me, the British Government's Written Answers to Parliament are public information, and the Parliament seems frequently interested in this topic.  Below is what I've gleaned about the scale of some of the accomodation occupied by the RF.  As it shows, the housing for the younger royals (HM's children) is far more modest than that granted to previous generations!

The Duke of York @ Buckingham Palace
Two bedrooms, a dressing room, a sitting room, a dining room and two bathrooms.

The Earl and Countess of Wesses @ Buckingham Palace
2 bedrooms, 1 sitting room, 1 bathroom (do not form a self contained apartment).

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester @ Kensington
4 principal bedrooms and 7 principal reception rooms, plus 8 staff bedrooms, 4 staff bathrooms, 3 staff reception rooms, 3 kitchens, 2 utility rooms, 1 staff rest room

The Duke and Duchess of Kent @ St. James Palace
4 principal bedrooms, 6 principal reception rooms, plus 4 staff bedrooms, 2 staff bathrooms, 3 kitchens and 1 staff rest room.

Princess Alexandra @ St. James Palace
5 principal bedrooms and 4 principal reception rooms, no staff accomodation

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent @ Kensington
7 principal bedrooms and 9 principal reception rooms, plus 1 staff bedroom, 2 staff bathrooms, 1 staff reception room, 1 kitchen and 2 utility rooms

Any other information on these apartments - pictures, decor, historical info, would be appreciated.

Iberian Royal Families / Spanish Royal Palaces
« on: August 04, 2005, 09:15:51 AM »
The official Spanish Royal Court website is decidely vague about details of royal palaces and residences.  Also, it makes no mention of the new home of the heir apparent and his bride.  

Could someone educate me about which of the state owned palaces are still used by the royals, and at what times of the year?  Are there any privately owned royal residences in Spain?

The Windsors / Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York
« on: August 02, 2005, 01:49:33 PM »
I haven't heard much about Sarah, Duchess of York in recent times.  Are she and Andrew still as close / friendly, now that the two princesses are approaching adulthood and going away to school?

I recall a year or two ago that Sarah appeared seated near the Queen at some social event.  Is there any interaction between them any longer?

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