Charles the Last

Speaking from front of the Australian Parliament House in Canberra on 11 September, Governor-General David Hurley declared, “Because of the death of our blessed and glorious Queen Elizabeth II, the Crown has solely and rightfully come to Prince Charles Philip Arthur George.” The coronation of King Charles III has now been set for 6 May 2023, with a lavish ceremony being planned to anoint him sovereign and place the crown on his head.

Submitted by Black Freighter on April 17, 2023

The ascension of Charles to the throne has been met with some excitement in environmental circles, many of which view him as a climate leader. In some ways, this is definitely true, with his charities having raised close to AU$200m in the last year alone for a variety of causes including a large sustainability project in India. Extinction Rebellion Victoria applauded Charles’ environmentalist views upon his ascension, stating “Courage and revolutionary action are indeed needed. Inspiration can come from anywhere! Join us on the street in the Spring Rebellion! Your ‘King’ commands you!” We find, however, that the new king’s various other activities eclipse his charitable public image.

The monarchy’s wealth today

As the new king, Charles has inherited a multibillion-pound corporation and is now in possession of one of the world’s greatest personal fortunes. The crown estate’s portfolio is currently understood to be worth £15.6bn, including 241 properties in the centre of London alone. Among other things, the crown owns the 18,000ha Duchy of Lancaster, which generates £652.8m in net assets from which Charles is entitled to a net surplus of £24m per year. As prince he was previously entitled to a private revenue of £21m per year from the Duchy of Cornwall, which has now passed to his son William.

Additionally, the monarch personally owns the seabed and half the foreshore around large parts of the UK, which is especially lucrative with the boom in offshore drilling and wind farms, the latter explaining Charles’ keen advocacy for renewable energy. In June 2022, the Queen’s corporation auctioned off licenses for six offshore wind farms that will generate £879m per year for the monarch’s property manager for the next decade, marking an 8.3% increase to the crown estate portfolio's overall value. These licenses are likely to be renewed upon their expiry.

While the estate’s net income has been surrendered to the government since the reign of George III, the crown remains entitled to a fixed annual payment, named the sovereign grant, that was set at £86.3m over the 2021-22 financial year. This grant is typically used to cover travel expenses and household maintenance. In 2017, crown estate profits were expanded drastically to cover £370m in renovations for Buckingham Palace.

It is impossible to ascertain the overall value of the royal family as the details are kept secret. The estate values of Prince Philip and the Queen Mother, which included vast accumulations of art and jewellery, were deliberately kept secret from the public upon their deaths and were not subject to inheritance tax. Just as we don’t know what exactly Elizabeth II received from them, we believe that it’s only a 99.99% chance that Charles III has inherited his mother’s Sandringham and Balmoral estates and collection of racehorses, though it is certain he will will assume ownership of her £100m stamp collection.

Poverty in UK

If these figures are starting to blur together, it’s no wonder – this sort of money is unimaginable to the average person. Even according to the UK Parliament, 11.1 million UK citizens are living in the absolute low income (poverty) bracket, or one in five people. This includes 46% of social renters, 33% of private renters and 27% of families where someone is disabled. Less generous accounts name the total number at more like 14.5 million. The number of families considered to be in a position of statutory homelessness stands at roughly 40,000, while on any given night some 2500 people are roughing it on the streets in England alone. Even with absolute poverty aside, around half of Britain’s wealth is owned by 10% of the population.

As the Anarchist Communist Group in the UK notes, “Despite the Queen’s ability to disguise the privilege and wealth of the Royal Family, her children and grandchildren have done the opposite, notably with the scandals that Andrew has been involved in, with his connection to the paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, with the openly public parading of privilege and wealth from the likes of Harry and Meghan, and with the dodgy fundraising of Charles to his charities.” God save the King, because we won’t when the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland finally have a gutful of this bloated institution of privilege.

Imperial legacy

We cannot even begin to estimate the levels of poverty worldwide that exist thanks to colonisation, invasion or interference from the British Empire, which at its peak occupied a quarter of the world. To take a more recent example, we can cite the genocide in Kenya under the reign of Elizabeth II, when British soldiers forced 1.5 million into concentration camps and utilised rape as a weapon of war in their efforts to suppress the 1952-1960 Mau Mau uprising. Dedan Kimathi, the spiritual and military leader of the rebellion, was sentenced to death by the British as he lay in a hospital bed, hanged and buried in an unmarked grave, where he remained unidentified until 2019. As one young Kenyan, Kikonde Mwamburi, noted of the Queen’s passing, “Death should not be used to sanitise her brutal legacy. I’m glad this obtuse culture is being questioned by younger generations.”

Across the Caribbean fury erupted in March this year when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee, aiming to dissuade other former colonies from following Barbados’ example in becoming a republic. On the first leg of their proposed trip, William and Kate were told to get lost by villagers in the Toledo district of Belize furious about a proposal to grant land to one of William’s ‘charities’, forcing the royal couple to cancel their visit there. In Jamaica, judicial wigs were burned amidst calls for a distancing from the UK’s legal system and the couple were informed by the Prime Minister that the country will be “moving on” and becoming a republic. In the Bahamas, a government committee demanded, with reference to British colonialism, “a full and formal apology for their crimes against humanity”, which included the royal family’s complicity in the slave trade.

This visit was obviously intended to be one of the UK’s soft-power charm offensives similar to Elizabeth’s visit to Ghana in 1961, in which the monarch famously danced with President Kwame Nkrumah in an effort to curry favour with post-colonial African states. It would appear that this tactic no longer works in the 21st century. As the hard-left Economic Freedom Fighters party in South Africa commented, “If there is really life and justice after death, may Elizabeth and her ancestors get what they deserve.”

In India, where tens of millions died under the British Raj and Winston Churchill’s planned famines, tens of thousands of tweets appeared immediately after Elizabeth’s death demanding the repatriation of the Kohinoor jewel. The Kohinoor jewel, or ‘mountain of light’ in Persian, is a 105-carat gemstone valued at US$350m set into the Crown of the Queen Mother, which itself is valued at around $10bn. This diamond, which was formerly included in the Peacock Throne of the Mughal Empire, was presented to Queen Victoria following the British East India Company’s annexation of the Kingdom of Punjab. It is now seen as a symbol of Britain’s imperial campaign of conquest and genocide against India, as well as a protest against hard-right PM Narendra Modi, who criminally instituted a nationwide day of mourning for Elizabeth. On 6 May 2023, Camilla will be crowned with the Crown of the Queen Mother, intact with the Kohinoor jewel - a symbol of the monarchy’s unapologetic attitude towards its colonial and genocidal past.

The Irish, who were similarly subject to genocidal famines under the British Empire, also shed no tears for Elizabeth. On the night after she died, thousands of Shamrock Rovers supporters chanted “Lizzy’s in a box” at Dublin’s Tallaght Stadium, with a video posted on Twitter immediately gaining 2.8 million views. Across Ireland, both in the north and the republic, fireworks were set off by the public for the week to come. In Australia, the reaction was more subdued. Australian conservatives clutched their pearls in horror when professional rugby league star Caitlin Moran posted on social media, “Todays a good fucking day, uncle Luke (country singer Luke Coombs) announces his tour, and this dumb dog (Queen Elizabeth) dies. Happy fucking Friday.” Moran, an Indigenous woman and halfback for the Newcastle Knights, was fined 25% of her salary (suspended as long as she “fulfils a number of conditions”) for her views, even as multiple male players remain unpunished for serious domestic abuse and assault charges.

While conservative pundits bayed for Moran’s blood, little was mentioned of the horrific campaign of genocide against Australia’s Indigenous people that prompted her to make her comment in the first place. To this day, discussion of British atrocities are still condemned as a “black armband view of history” by conservative leaders like John Howard and Tony Abbott. There is no denying, however, the absolutely criminal nature of Australia’s British colonisers, who carried out a breathtaking campaign of violence so savage we still don’t know the full number of massacres carried out or the ultimate death-toll. Like other peoples subject to British colonialism, the trauma and dispossession of Australia’s First Nations is ongoing. Racism remains embedded in Australia’s institutions, as demonstrated, for example, in the hardcore race hatred in Queensland Police Service exposed at the ongoing Independent Inquiry and the deaths in custody that occur at the hands of policemen wearing the Royal Crown on their insignia routinely. Caitlin Moran did nothing wrong!

The monarchy’s continuing role in war and genocide.

Returning to Charles, we find that the British monarchy’s bloodthirst remains unsated. Despite his public image, as a charitable benefactor and climate advocate, Charles has been the UK arms industry’s chief representative to Saudi Arabia, which is currently engaged in a war of genocide in Yemen. Regardless of where we stand on the political situation in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has undertaken an intense aerial war against areas held by the Iranian-backed Houthi movement that has cost at least 12,000 civilian lives and targeted infrastructure including hospitals, schools and bridges necessary for humanitarian aid, ensuring that thousands more have succumbed to illness and starvation.

Saudi Arabia is a dynastic monarchy, with the heir apparent and Prime Minister, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), holding almost absolute power. A fierce US ally, MBS is well-known for terrorising his people, initiating, according to Human Rights Watch, “a frenzy of fear for genuine Saudi reformers who dare to advocate publicly for human rights or women’s empowerment”. Public executions are common, including a mass execution this year of 81 people accused of terrorism and ‘deviant beliefs’ and 37 in 2019 on charges that were believed to be based on confessions made under torture. On October 2 2018, dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was infamously dismembered with a bonesaw in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on MBS’ orders and as this article was being written, reports emerged that three men have been sentenced to death for refusing to vacate land pegged for development as part of MBS’ NEOM ‘future city’ development.

It is with this government that Charles met after the failure of initial negotiations led by former British PM David Cameron concerning the multi-billion dollar sale of 72 Typhoon warplanes on behalf of British Aerospace. Charles dressed in traditional robes and joined members of the Saudi monarchy in a sword dance in Riyadh and while he claims he did not know about the deal and that it “did not come up in any of his conversations”, the sale (at least US$4.4bn – the figure is kept secret by BAe) was successfully concluded the next day. It was clear, according to Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, that “Prince Charles has been used by the UK government and BAE Systems as an arms dealer.”

We consider it deeply unlikely that Charles was blissfully unaware of the deal and more likely that he was fully aware of his role in the UK’s soft-power strategy. Just as Elizabeth went to Ghana and William to the Caribbean more recently, the monarchy maintains an important role in furthering the UK’s corporate and strategic objectives. While liberals criticise Charles for not thinking about his carbon footprint on his trips abroad, we may consider the carbon footprint, among other things, that 72 Typhoon fighters making constant aerial bombardments of northern Yemen might have.


Immediately after Elizabeth died, renewed calls began to be made for a republic in Australia. Five hours after her death was made public, the leader of the Green party Adam Bandt stated, “Now Australia must move forward. We need Treaty with First Nations people, and we need to become a Republic.” His deputy, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, followed, “I cannot mourn the leader of a racist empire built on stolen lives, land and wealth of colonised peoples … We are reminded of the urgency of treaty with First Nations, justice and reparations for British colonies and becoming a republic.” While there is merit in these statements and no doubt that they represent a definite improvement over the Australian Republican Movement’s squeamish “sympathies and gratitude”, anarchists do not support a republic. As the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG) notes, “Replacing the monarchy with an Australian republic would not necessarily address Australia’s original sin: colonisation and the dispossession of the Aboriginal people that followed. The current republican movement would definitely not address it, given its determination that the one and only change to the Constitution would be to create an Australian head of state.”

For anarchists a republic would not mark a substantial improvement over the current state of affairs. As Errico Malatesta argued in 1924 with reference to Italian republicanism, “There would no longer be a king and royally appointed senate and this would certainly be progress. But progress of very small practical account. Today the predominating and determining force behind all government is finance and royal power counts only as a tool in the hands of the financiers, who well know how to jettison it without reducing their baleful influence.” We believe this line of argument stands true of the situation in Australia today. The abolition of the monarchy will not lead naturally to the overturning of the capitalist economic system, which we understand to be the primary driver of oppression and inequality in the world today. To look briefly abroad, we can see how the transformation of Nepal from an absolute monarchy in 1990 to a federal republic in 2008 did little to overturn capitalist property relations, even with a democratically-elected Marxist-Leninist government.

To summarise, it is worth quoting MACG at length. “We are members of the working class. We have no great fortunes to defend. Instead, the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group raises the banner of liberty, equality and solidarity. These principles, as promised by the foundation of liberal, democratic republics, can only be made real when there are no more bosses, or governments, or the threat of poverty hanging over our heads. Such a society, based on libertarian communism, will be freer than any democracy, be more equal than any capitalist republic, and unleash a solidarity unknown to the capitalist class and which can never exist between classes. The new world will relegate monarchy, along with every other form of government, to the history books – and King Charles III will be known, we hope, as Charles the Last.”