The Royal Family play a central, if ceremonial, role in British life, and are constantly trumpeted as an asset to the British tourist industry. But are they really doing such a great job of attracting foreigners here? Maybe if we rose up and got rid of our German overlords we could improve our low tourist numbers. After all, Republican France currently receives over 76 million tourists a year, a number that towers over the paltry, and quite frankly pathetic, 28 million that come to see Britain. Clearly they are not the asset we have long thought them to be. Here is a look at the ways the British tourist industry would benefit if we sent the royals to the guillotine.
Photo by jimmyharris on Flickr.com. Used under Creative Commons Licence.
Promoting Britain’s Other Attractions
While the royals do possess a certain charm, the focus they receive in British tourist literature and advertisements is disproportionate. After all, no foreigner arriving on our shores is really going to get to shake hands with Prince Williams or have high tea with the Queen, so they are going to leave disappointed if they are expecting an audience with Prince Charles. Money would be far better spent promoting the rest of our fantastic nation, so that tourists on their way here take in maritime Liverpool, sailing holidays off Cornwall, ancient Hadrian’s Wall, mythic Stonehenge, the beauty of the Peak District or Edinburgh’s granite majesty. Most of the U.K. regional cities have a low profile, or a bad reputation overseas, so more work should go to promoting their virtues, rather than plastering pictures of the monarch everywhere. Who knows, we might just end up keeping some of our own tourists who these days are more likely to head off on family holidays abroad.
The French Example
Though many tourists undoubtedly do come to the U.K. to see royal palaces such as the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace or Buckingham Palace, such buildings would still be around if we axed the royals. It is the architecture and deep sense of history that appeals, not the idea that such sites are lived in by the royals. The Tower of London for instance, has never really been a premier royal residence, and actually has more of a background as a prison – hardly the glitz and glamour of kings and queens. And many Royal sites in Britain are woefully underutilised, with the doors locked and secured and barely thrown open to visitors. Look at the French, for instance, who turned their grand royal palace in the centre of Paris into the most famous art gallery in the world – The Louvre, which attracts more visitors than any single site in Britain. Similarly, Versailles, the former home of France’s deposed monarchs, is far better used, and far more attractive to tourists, than the barricaded equivalent Buckingham Palace.
Pomp and Ceremony
Pomp and ceremony are by no means confined to monarchies, as anyone visiting the United States on the 4th of July, or France on Bastille Day can attest to. In fact, republican zeal in these countries far surpasses the limp patriotism in Britain, because the people themselves embody the spirit of the nation, rather than personifying such national sentiments in one individual, like in Britain. So really, turning into a republic is not going to harm this – there will still be changing of the guard ceremonies, only in front of a Presidential palace, while the deep traditions and customs of the land will remain intact – they don’t depend on an old lady wearing a crown sitting on a throne.
More Approachable Royals
The current royals also aren’t the most approachable bunch, with their status as demi-gods, rulers born into the role who are always surrounded by security guards. The only time most of them are seen in public is during official events. Change this state of affairs and let them be normal people without the burden of status and we will still see the royals as famous role models, but more like celebrities than heads of state, making them more approachable, letting them be themselves, and becoming a more friendly face promoting Britain.
John is a travel writer with a love of adventurous sailing holidays, walks on the beach and midnight drinks under moonlight. This photo was used under the Creative Commons license curtsey of Flickr.com