Windsors long ago gave birth to a unique brand
If the royal family did not already exist, it might have to be invented
However, the Windsors are in a better position to head off criticisms, following headline-grabbing celebrations to mark the queen’s jubilee and coronation.
Equally, the queen has been shrewd enough to show herself in tune with today’s zeitgeist occasionally, as witnessed by her contribution to the Bond sequence in last year’s Olympics opening ceremony.
In truth, some of the pace has gone out of the attacks on the royals, judging by a series of opinion polls that all show the monarchy is more popular now than it has been for years.
The royals cost £33 million (€38.2 million) last year, according to the Treasury – 53p per head of the population of the United Kingdom, Buckingham Palace notes, adding that this is down by a quarter since 2008/09.
But some British republicans – those so-called because they want to end the monarchy, not anything else – insist that this headline figure is a gross underestimation.
Factor in everything such as security costs and bills for preparing royal visits, says the organisation Republic, and the real tally comes closer to £200 million (€231.6 million).
The difficulty in making a decision about the royals’ worth based on money is that many of the benefits the institution offers – the sense of timeless history, for example – are intangible.
The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton two years ago was worth £107 million (€123.9 million) to London alone, through hotel bills, travel and night-life spending, according to some estimates afterwards, even allowing for the costs for those who mitched off work.
Intangibles, even if they are hard to count, matter: so much of Britain’s international image is made up of Buckingham Palace, Beefeaters and the Tower of London and other royal-related attractions.
Opponents argue that Versailles – one of France’s biggest tourist attractions – is no less attractive because it is no longer the home of the Bourbons.
However, the thousands from all nations who gather, even for just long enough to have a photograph taken, outside Buckingham Palace every day come rain or shine, would disagree.
In the end, the arrival of a baby to a couple in a country of 60 million people that is no longer an imperial power dominated headlines from Toronto to Timbuctoo to Tokyo.
If the royal family did not exist, branding experts would, in this era of celebrity, seek to invent them; though the patina of history that makes it work most of the time would be impossible to replicate.