Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – so long as they don't make the taxpayer pick up the bill for their wedding

In this unending age of austerity, it would be frankly sickening if any public money was used to subsidise this particular millennial couple

Sean O'Grady
Monday 27 November 2017 11:26
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have announced their engagement

“Parasite Marries Scrounger” remains my favourite headline for a royal wedding story, I think coined by The Socialist Worker to mark the betrothal of HRH the Prince Andrew and the Miss Sarah Ferguson, in 1986. It narrowly beats the one that ran somewhere in the revolutionary leftist press in 1981 when the Palace announced the Prince of Wales’ ill-fated engagement to Lady Diana Spencer – “Big Ears to Marry Noddy”.

I’m not witty enough to follow that, but you get the idea. Unlike so many people I don’t have passionate feelings about the House of Windsor, and wish only that it doesn’t indulge in offensively conspicuous consumption as it fulfils its modest constitutional role.

So I find it hard to get worked up about Prince Harry and his fiancée either way, except in one crucial respect: money. In this unending age of austerity – for which I have some sympathy – it would be frankly sickening if any public money was used to subsidise this particular millennial couple.

However many millions are going to be blown on the national celebrations, then they should come out of whatever counts as the royals’ private funds. It’s really as simple as that. Failure to follow this golden fiscal rule would badly dent the popularity of the monarchy as an institution. On balance, I reckon it is worth keeping, and, also for that reason, it needs to command public support.

Still, if Prince Harry and Megan Markle want to take advantage of the various schemes now available to the younger generation they’re at liberty to do so. As a first-time buyer, Harry would qualify for the Help to Buy scheme, though he and Meghan are a little too old for the new Young Person’s Railcard.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have announced their engagement

If he was prudent, he’d also subscribe to a Lifetime ISA, and put the maximum into his pension pot to qualify for top-rate tax relief, currently at the still-generous lifetime allowance of £1m.

I don’t think he needed a student loan for his officer training, so any future concessions under a Corbyn government wouldn’t be relevant to him. The general attitude of the future Chancellor, John McDonnell, is of rather more relevance, and Harry might usefully try some sort of charm offensive angst this peculiarly hard-nosed socialist. Well, he could try.

At the last count, Harry was fifth in line to the throne, and will slip further down the order as the years go on and the William branch reproduces. As the “spare”, he has served a good deal of his genetic purpose, and has managed to find another role.

He busies himself, as far as can be seen, with valuable public service to his country in the Army and through charitable work, the only useful function for any celebrity, blue-blooded or otherwise.

That’s all good, and, on those grounds he might be granted some modest salary from public funds or those, technically which belong to the rest of the family as their “private” means (no such thing in reality, of course, as everything they have is derived for the public role).

What there can no justification be for is some lavish nuptials – honeymoon included – with the tab picked up by the hard-pressed and resentful British taxpayer. By paying their own way, Harry and his bride can avoid being labelled scroungers, parasites or anything like that, and have a lovely start to their married life as TRH the Duke and Duchess of Somewhere or other. Maybe Duke and Duchess of Windsor, seeing as that’s been in abeyance and she’s an American, though it has a mixed history.

Anyway, I wish them well – just so long as they don’t send me the bill for the bar.

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