Creative interpretation of visitor numbers

What are they even for? One minute we’re told “head of state” and the next it’s “bringing in the tourist cash.” Are they any real use at either of those, or anything else? Are they enough use to justify the enormous amount of tax-free money they keep having more of?

A common argument in defence of the royal family is the benefit they bring to the UK economy through tourism. But despite widespread claims of their tourist value, firm evidence that the Windsors are what bring visitors to Britain is hard to come by, with most assertions anecdotal or speculative. The storm-tossed tourist industry may be desperately hoping for a coronation bump, but the benefit the event will bring is not clear.

Tourists visit France, Italy, Switzerland – I don’t think it’s in hopes of seeing royalty. Why would it be in the case of Britain?

Numerical claims about the value of the monarchy frequently rely on creative interpretation of visitor numbers to sites with any royal connection, however tangential, says Graham Smith, of Republic, which campaigns to abolish the monarchy.

“If you look at the Tower of London, where the royals haven’t lived for hundreds of years, it’s far, far more popular than Buckingham Palace,” says Smith. (Annual visits to the tower are more than 2m, compared with 121,000 to the palace). “So it’s clearly not the living history that people are interested in, it’s the history – and history never goes away. There just isn’t any evidence to suggest that people would not visit if [the royals] were not there.”

Perhaps even more popular is Kensington Palace, and you know why? Because it’s at one end of Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens, that’s why – a massive green space in the heart of London. London itself is quite a tourist draw, so if the number-crunches are interpreting tourism in London as caused by the monarchy…that’s pretty hilarious. No, dalling, it’s the theaters, the museums, the galleries, the bookshops, the river, the parks, Shakespeare, Keats, Highgate Cemetery – it’s a thousand things.

Also Choss is pretty obviously a horror, so there’s that.

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