America was founded partly in revolt against the very notion of a King (of England) ruling the country and maybe that’s why I have such an aversion to the British love of their royal family. I’ve always thought it was strange when visiting, but I am more conscious of it on this trip. It’s bad enough in America when people fall in love with their politicians (let alone falling in love with movie and rock stars) but at least your favorite politician has actually done something, or is trying to do something, good for people. The biggest accomplishment anyone in the Royal Family has done is to be born, the second-biggest accomplishment is learning the proper time and method to drink tea in the afternoon.
And they’re all born from only two families. You have to go back to the year 799 to count a total of five families in their family tree. In America we call that “in-breeding” and banish them to West Virginia. In the UK, they’re called “royalty” and get to live in palaces for free. Oh, and they all have no day jobs other than to not embarrass the family.
Ok, the US President gets to live in a nice house for free too. I accept, and even support, that because I think he (or she someday) needs to be freed of the burden of home ownership and maintenance because they have a job. An important job, even. But the White House is only 50,000 square feet. That’s a palace by American standards, but it’s a bathroom compared to Buckingham Palace’s 828,000 square feet! I guess 1,000,000 square feet just felt too ostentatious! And that’s just one of their homes. To put it in perspective, Bill Gates’ house is a puny 60,000 square feet, and he’s the richest man in America. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Alsaud of Saudi Arabia, who is worth $23 billion and whom you could just guess has a crazy unnecessary house, has a soccer field in his house but it’s only half the size of Buckingham Palace.
More importantly, the US President only gets to live in the house while doing their job, not their entire life. And they have to live in Washington, DC which I consider a punishment. The Founding Fathers of America did it right and it’s even more impressive that over 200 years later, we still treat our President like what they are: an employee.
While on the topic, there’s currently a scandal in Britain about the Members of Parliament (the equivalent of US Congressmen) who billed some mortgage payments and moat-maintenance (!) on their homes to the government and those people are losing their jobs. Meanwhile, just down the street a little old lady sits alone in an 828,000 square foot home and her family has been billing the taxpayers for that for centuries and no one in Britain cares.