There’s been an online backlash to Queen Elizabeth's Christmas message this year after viewers took offense at her golden piano.
The queen was filmed sitting at a desk in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace when she delivered her speech, which included personal reflections on her long life and a wish for peace.
But it was the presence of a golden piano in the background that sparked accusations of hypocrisy and that she was out of touch.
Daily Mirror associate editor, Kevin Maguire, said the queen had killed satire by “lecturing the nation to pull together” while sitting in front of a golden piano in a palace she was charging taxpayers to renovate.
Scottish National Party politician James Dornan also pilloried her message suggesting a singalong on the golden piano might cheer up those hungry and sleeping on the streets.
The way the queen funds her activities, what she personally owns and what is owned by the public, is complex.
Taxpayers fund her activities, including a planned renovation of Buckingham Palace (which is not her personal property) through the Sovereign Grant, which is funded from profits generated by the huge commercial property business owned by the reigning monarch but only while she is queen.
In 2017/18, the Crown Estate generated a profit of £329.4 million ($US 416.9 million) and this money was given to the U.K. Treasury, the BBC reported.
A portion of this money, about £47.4 million ($US 59.9 million), was provided as a grant to the queen to fund her duties and maintenance of the royal palaces.
The golden piano is part of the Royal Collection, an art collection made up of more than one million objects owned by the British royal family. The queen owns some of the objects as a private individual but others are owned in the right of the monarchy.
The golden piano is not actually made of gold but is mahogany, painted and gilt in gold. Queen Victoria commissioned the piano in 1856 and it recently went through a 12-month restoration to clean it of surface dirt, which covered many parts of its decoration.
While the queen’s wealth is offensive to some, others defended her and pointed out it was not surprising she had a golden piano.
In her speech, Queen Elizabeth II reflected on her long life and encouraged people to treat others with respect.
“Some cultures believe a long life brings wisdom,” Elizabeth said in the recording. “I’d like to think so. Perhaps part of that wisdom is to recognize some of life’s baffling paradoxes, such as the way human beings have a huge propensity for good and yet a capacity for evil.
“Even the power of faith, which frequently inspires great generosity and self-sacrifice, can fall victim to tribalism.”
She noted that the Commonwealth Games held in Australia this year emphasized goodwill and mutual respect.
“Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding,” she said.
She said she thought the Christmas story had retained its appeal because the birth of Jesus brought hope to the world.
“I believe his message of peace on Earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. It can be heeded by everyone; it’s needed as much as ever.”