If Britain is serious about speeding up movement between social levels, perhaps we need to start at the top - by abolishing the monarchy.
Like most people, I laughed when Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, said “I can’t see that the Queen is ever going to be really poor, but I’m sure we can find a council house for her — we’re going to build lots more.”
After all their years of being surrounded by wealth and prosperity, it’s amusing to think of Elizabeth and Philip pulling up outside a Tesco somewhere, in a golden carriage with a marching band following behind, queuing up for their weekly supply of baked beans.
Would this policy be a powerful symbol of Britain’s intention to make it easier to clamber up the social ladder?
The Queen inherits wealth from birth and this has no place in our society. In fact it represents an outdated class system where wealth is held by the rich and most privileged, not filtering down to the people who work hard and propel our country forward.
This contradicts the principle of meritocracy, whereby if you work hard, you will gain security, wealth and perhaps even power. Did the Queen work hard for her wealth? Or did she stumble into a position of inherited wealth from birth?
As I have learnt in A-level Politics, distribution of wealth in 2016 is not even comparable to that in the past. In the eighteenth century a privileged class of gentry gained a huge amount of money, land and influence simply because they were born into the ‘right’ family. As Britain’s democratic process began to improve, the UK turned into a meritocracy where class systems receded and opportunities to gain a higher social status increased.
Thankfully, Britain is largely rid of this grossly old-fashioned system. But the monarchy remains and is a lasting symbol of an archaic class structure, where one family is seemingly exempt from this fundamental principle which Britain prides itself on.
I am not suggesting that the Queen does not work hard. In fact, there is an argument to be made that she plays an important role as a head of state and ambassador for Britain. But I would suggest that she does not require the vast estate which she was born into to fulfil this role.
It saddens me to think of how many more equations I will have to solve, or how many paragraphs I will have to write at school to be able to earn a personal wealth of $500 million. The Queen on the other hand has the privilege of coming from the right family.
The class system of the past is something we would do best to forget. The monarchy is the last remnant of this old system where wealth is held in pockets at the top of society, out of reach for normal, hard-working citizens.
Maybe I am just jealous. But the only danger in my eyes is losing the occasional royalty-related day off.
-- Alan Everett is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds