Charles wanted to use all the profits from the Crown Estate, an empire technically owned by the monarch but surrendered to the Treasury from 1760, to pay for all the royals’ official costs including security. He still hopes to bring about the change when he becomes King, according to some sources. But government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the author of a new book on the queen’s fortune show that during a secret review of the royal finances in 1989, civil servants feared it might throw unwelcome light on the royal family’s royal cost.
“Any global budget will attract a great deal of attention,” said a draft report prepared in December 1989. “Although the overall budget will actually represent nothing more than the cost that would in any case arise to support the head of state’s expenses on the basis proposed, there will be an immediate contrast available between the over £ 60 million to be met annually versus the £ 6.5 million on the current civil list.
“Whichever approach Parliament ministers conclude is the right one, the apparent scale of this ‘increase’ is likely to raise questions about the Queen’s personal wealth and tax issues.”
David McClure, who unearthed the documents while searching for his new book, The Queen’s True Worth, which was published today in the Daily Express, said the Thatcher government primarily believed it was constitutionally wrong to give the royal family the profits of the Crown Estate.
The Queen remains the nominal owner of the Crown Estate, which owns valuable property in London’s West End, including much of Regent Street, the rights to offshore wind farms, the seabed around England, Wales and Northern Ireland and half of the United Kingdom. shoreline.
But it’s not his private property, he has no direct control over it, and every monarch since George III in 1760 has swapped his profits for the Civil List or its replacement, the Sovereign Grant, in recognition of the fact that the income of the old The lands of the crown are no longer sufficient to finance the management of the country.
Last year the Crown Estate returned profits of £ 343.5 million, but if the monarchy had been responsible for financing all of the UK’s public spending it would have had to raise £ 840.7 billion.
Coincidentally, the royal cost of the royal family: when security, local authority time spent on official visits, the use of the properties of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall to finance the activities of the Queen’s family and other bills are added to the government’s official Sovereign Grant – it is estimated at £ 345 million, about the same as the Crown Estate’s profits.
In the late 1980s, Charles, supported by Lord Chamberlain Lord Airlie and then Royal Family Financial Advisor Michael Peat, launched a plan to use the money when Crown Estate profits were around £ 60 million, once again. equivalent to the true cost of the monarchy at the time.
The heavily redacted documents obtained by McClure show that there was concern at the Treasury.
In early July 1989 he warned that there were potential drawbacks to putting all the real funding together because the total cost of supporting the sovereign would become more evident “and the nation’s funding for the establishment of the monarchy would be subject, at least for a period of wide public and political debate “.
Even Mrs Thatcher’s chief private secretary, Andrew Turnbull, advised against: “There was no obvious reason for the head of state spending to move with the Crown Estate’s income,” she said.
In 2012, however, David Cameron’s coalition government created the Sovereign Grant to replace the Civil List and for the first time linked the amount of taxpayer funding to the equivalent of a percentage of the Crown Estate’s profits.
It’s still just a funding formula – the money still comes from the taxpayers – but it has led some Brits to think the Queen is using her own money.
The Sovereign Grant was initially equivalent to 15% of the Crown Estate’s profits, but is now 25% to help pay for a £ 369 million renovation of Buckingham Palace. This year’s Sovereign Grant is £ 85.9 million.
The idea that the royal family receives the full amount of the Crown Estate’s profits may be raised again by Prince Charles when he becomes king, according to some sources.
Jonathan Dimbleby wrote in a 1994 biography of Charles that the heir to the throne had pitched the idea in the late 1980s.
He said the plan was rejected because it was almost inconceivable that Parliament would support the overthrow of more than 200 years of history and undermine the principle that monarchy exists only with the consent of the people.
This means that the monarchy relies on taxpayer money approved by Parliament.