Of all social injustices that inflame public debate, there's nothing quite like a monarchy to bring to the fore questions of hierarchy and social utility. Is there a place for royals in the 21st century? Are we really going to pretend that this family has a god-given right to a life of luxury? Are they a drain on public funds or a net gain for the national image?
If the proponents and critics of monarchies have one thing in common, it's the desire to make their voices heard. The discussion of royalty is rarely calm but polarises generations and political camps. Though the days of omnipotent kings and queens are over, these unelected individuals still wield considerable power and retain much of the opulence that layfolk can only dream of.
Coming from the UK, the royals live in the spotlight, able to whip up a media frenzy or looked to (by some) for reassurance in turbulent times. Like it or not, they are put on a pedestal that makes them impossible to ignore. In this context, it is very hard to take a moderate stance on the monarchy and their place in public affairs.
In Belgium, the royal family is far more low-key. Yes, they are visible and carry out numerous ceremonial functions throughout the year; but we're not beaten over the head with their household affairs or confronted with their noble faces on everything from coins to crockery. In fact, it doesn't take too much effort to forget they're there at all.
Yet the news that they will cost Belgian taxpayers more will inevitably spark some of the disputes that are so lively elsewhere. I won't wade into that argument today but instead wonder whether you have strong views on the Belgian royals, or manage not to pay them much attention?
Let @Orlando_tbt know.
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