Remember those "Mansions for Scroungers" tabloid headlines that inspired some of the worst poverty porn ever to disgrace our TV screens (Benefits Street and Skint Britain, to name but 2)? The Sun doesn’t seem to be too keen to peddle this stereotype now, do they? Perhaps because their target demographic has been pushed to the brink of poverty by the cost of living crisis.

SNP Deputy Mhairi Black has termed this a "cost of greed" crisis, and I'm inclined to agree that this is more accurate. As if it isn't enough to stomach the fact that MPs' salaries have continued to increase year on year while public sector pay was frozen, despite the fact they earn almost double the salary of teachers and nurses, as well as claiming "expenses," now the Treasury chooses to announce that King Charles is in line for a 45% increase in funding over the next couple of years. That's a political choice to further the interests of the 1%. All the proof we need that this government is out of touch, surely.

23 years ago, the then-Prince Charles traveled to Peterborough to open a restored wing of the cathedral. His “loyal subjects” lined the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of the future monarch. Amongst them was Big Issue vendor Karl Grierson. He muscled his way to the front of the crowd and asked if the prince would like to buy a magazine. The way this event has been mythologised by the magazine is, for a publication based on the principle of equality, baffling beyond words. Charles is represented as a man of the people, an ordinary, decent bloke because he made a purchase. But what ordinary person has an aide? His aide bought the magazine, not Charles.

When the Queen died, the story was wheeled out again as the magazine ‘remembered fondly’ royal support it has received over the years. Pages and pages were dedicated to an establishment that symbolises gross inequality. I can only assume that John Bird’s peerage has gone to his head.

The Coronation, an obscene display of wealth and privilege, is estimated to have cost the taxpayer up to £100,000,000. I was horrified when I found out that my parents not only watched the ceremony on TV but also swore their allegiance to the new king. What will it take for working class people in this country to wake up and smell the Greggs Meal Deal coffee? In 2022, Justin Welby (another man who parades about in a fancy robe and silly hat to display his superiority) spoke out, calling for energy companies to do more to help those struggling with inflation. And yet, he still performed his ‘duty’ of placing the crown (that ultimate symbol of empire) upon the king’s bonce. Not before he’d anointed him with the sacred Chrism oil, consecrated in Jerusalem before being flown to the UK. Probably in its own gold-plated helicopter. All this, and yet we’re expected to sympathise with him! Because his gold carriage is uncomfortable. Really? It seems that for the sake of an extra day off work and the opportunity to deck the streets and patios with flags and bunting, the average Brit is willing to overlook this flagrant waste of public money.

According to the Times 2023 Rich List, King Charles’ personal fortune far exceeds his mother’s at an eye-watering £600,000,000. Much is made of the fact that the royal family does not own Buckingham Palace, but Charles does privately own residences all over the UK and as far afield as Romania. His property portfolio includes most of Regent Street, and until he gave it to William, he owned The Oval. Yes, he just casually gives away sporting venues. Inheritance tax-free, of course. Everyone else in the country is liable to pay this tax, but not the Windsors. Don’t you just love democracy?

The argument for preserving the monarchy usually hinges on the revenue it adds to the economy through tourism. But this isn’t the only way they are making money. The Duchy of Cornwall is a business; and since inheriting this title back in 1969, Charles has capitalised on this, proving to be as shrewd as any self-made entrepreneur. Who remembers the Paradise Papers? No? Allow me to jog your memory. Back in 2017, the royal estate engaged in some good old-fashioned offshore investment. They might be bringing tourism pounds into the UK, but where is the loyalty to "Great Britain" when they’re squirreling cash away on the Cayman Islands? And it’s not just the Duchy of Cornwall (which has now been passed onto William), there’s the Duchy of Lancaster as well.

This family has money, property, and assets estimated by the Guardian to be worth over £1 billion. And yet, we pay for their celebrations. We pay for their home renovations (over £100,000,00 went on repairs to the palace last year). We pay for staff to wait on them. When the Beckhams and Zoella used furlough scheme funds to pay their staff during the COVID crisis, there was an outcry from the tabloids. Look how the media turned on Harry and Meghan for their book and TV deals. And they’ve been stripped of their titles.

There are very few issues that the UK press agrees on, but when it comes to supporting the monarchy, it’s unanimous. And it’s no coincidence that this also goes for the main political parties. Last year, for the first time in its history, members were invited to sing the national anthem at the Labour Party conference. This united front from mainstream media and politicians means that a national debate or referendum on the future of the monarchy is impossible to imagine. So, in the name of tradition, the British class system marches on, trampling any idealistic dreams of social mobility into the gutter.

Nigel Farage versus Coutts (the bank of choice for the royal family) is another example of this power play. Farage has praised the Tory treasury for its swift action to bring in laws preventing banks from curbing the freedom of speech of account holders. How quickly they act in the interests of the few. But if I’m a Republican, I can be arrested just for thinking about writing "Not My King" on a sign. And what about the rights of trans young people who simply wish to be called by their preferred names and pronouns?

It’s time this hypocrisy stopped. I’m not suggesting an "off-with-their-heads" style revolution. But why is it that we can privatise water, railways, and energy but not this outdated institution that can so obviously afford to support itself? The only explanation I can think of is that people have a misguided sense of ownership. If this were genuinely the case, we should have some control and some power to hold them to account. We don’t.

If you join a union, you get to vote in ballots on issues such as pay and conditions. And they will fight to get you better pay and conditions. Now that sounds like a fair trade-off.