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UK royals must not be ‘treated as religion’ & deserve scrutiny like anybody else – royal historian & ‘The Crown’ consultant to RT

People must not forget that the royals are human beings and should be “analysed with the same degree of scrutiny that we apply to anything else in our lives,” Lacey told RT’s Afshin Rattansi on his show Going Underground.

“I admire the British monarchy, but I don’t think we have to worship it,” he said. “It should not be treated as a religion. We are not servants of the British monarchy – they are our servants. We pay them our taxes. And so it seemed to me right that we should look at how they’re behaving, how well they’re handling our trust.”

We pay them to be an exemplary family. So when they are not, I think we’re entitled to look at that.

The fourth season of ‘The Crown’, which was released by Netflix last month, is primarily set in the 1980s and depicts the turbulent marriage between Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, as well as Charles’ romance with Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he subsequently married in 2005.

The Mail on Sunday reported that Charles and his entourage were furious over the series. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden even told the paper Netflix should include a reminder before each episode that the show is a work of fiction. The streaming company refused to do so, arguing it has always made clear ‘The Crown’ was a drama.

Lacey told RT it was no surprise that the royals did not have many complaints about the show before.

The establishment in Britain was quite happy with the first three seasons, which were about coronations, and happy marriages, and jubilees. And now in the fourth season, the marriages are going wrong.

“There’s no secret [about] Charles’ obsession and infatuation with Camilla. That’s history! And that – I’m afraid – is what is now the subject of Season 4, and we all have to live through it. And the royal family has got to take the rough with the smooth,” the historian explained.

At the same time, the royal family has become less “open” over the years. Lacey showed the viewers an envelope containing several chapters from his new book about Prince William and Prince Harry that he had sent to the Buckingham Palace. He said he merely wanted an official opinion on several “difficult subjects.” 

“They sent it back to me unopened. And they said: ‘Mr. Lacey, we’re not going read your chapters. This is not a book we choose to cooperate on and, therefore, for the avoidance of any doubt or misunderstanding, I am returning them to you unopened.’”

Lacey noted that the increasing pressure from tabloids has made it “impossible for them to operate in the old ways.”

The historian said the royal family costs the British public around £80 million ($107 million) a year, which is “actually not much more than a pound per taxpayer.” It still makes the British royals the “most expensive” royal family in Europe, but, according to Lacey, “cost-benefit analysis” would reveal that they have the “best value” because they have “the most members who do the most jobs.”

“The royal in Europe [with] the best value-for-money is Princess Anne, because she goes out 500 times a year to do royal engagements. Prince Charles is right up there, the Queen is right up there,” Lacey said, adding that other royals, like Prince Edward, and Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, are very active as well.

This makes the British charities “the most flourishing in the world,” Lacey said, as benefactors get knighted if they donate enough money to humanitarian causes. “It may be cynical, but it causes a lot of people to give money to charity.”

Watch the full episode here:

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