Finances of the British royal family
The finances of the British royal family come from a number of sources. The British government supports the monarch and some of her family financially by means of the Sovereign Grant, which is intended to meet the costs of the sovereign's official expenditures. This includes the costs of the upkeep of the various royal residences, staffing, travel and state visits, public engagements, and official entertainment. Other sources of income include revenues from the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, a parliamentary annuity, and income from private investments. The Keeper of the Privy Purse is Head of the Privy Purse and Treasurer's Office and has overall responsibility for the management of the sovereign's financial affairs.
Until 1760 the monarch met all official expenses from hereditary revenues, which included the profits of the Crown Estate (the royal property portfolio). King George III agreed to surrender the hereditary revenues of the Crown in return for payments called the Civil List. Under this arrangement the Crown Estate remained the property of the sovereign, but the hereditary revenues of the crown were placed at the disposal of the House of Commons. The Civil List was paid from public funds and was intended to support the exercise of the monarch's duties as head of state of Great Britain. This arrangement persisted from 1760 until 2012. In modern times, the Government's profits from the Crown Estate always significantly exceeded the Civil List. Under the Civil List arrangements the royal family faced criticism for the lack of transparency surrounding Royal finances. The National Audit Office was not entitled to audit the Royal Household.
The Queen received an annual £7.9 million a year from the Civil List between 2001 and 2012. The total income of the Royal Household from the Treasury was always significantly larger than the Civil List because it included additional income such as Grants-in-Aid from the Treasury and revenues from the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster. The total Royal Household income for the financial years 2011–12 and 2012–13 was £30 million per annum, followed by a 14% cut in the following year. However, the Treasury provided an additional £1 million to pay for Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.
Royal expenditure differs from income due to the use of a Reserve Fund, which can be added to or drawn from. The official reported annual expenditure of the Head of State was £41.5 million for the 2008–09 financial year. This figure did not include the cost of security provided by the police and the Army and some other expenses. The campaign group Republic assert that the full annual cost of the British monarchy to be at least £350,000,000 a year, when including lost revenue from the two duchies, security, costs met by local councils and police forces, and lost tax revenue.
Under the Sovereign Grant Act 2011, the system of funding the Royal Household by a mixture of Civil List payments and Grants-in-Aid was replaced. From 1 April 2012 a single annual Sovereign Grant has been paid by the Treasury. The level of funding for the Royal Household is now linked to the Government's revenue from The Crown Estate.
The Sovereign Grant Annual Report states that the Sovereign Grant was £31 million for 2012–13, £36.1 million for 2013–14 and £37.9 million for 2014–15. The amount of the Sovereign Grant is equal to 15% of the income account net surplus of the Crown Estate for the financial year that began two years previously. Step 4 of subsection 6(1), and subsection 6(4), of the Act provide a mechanism to prevent the amount of the Sovereign Grant increasing beyond what is necessary because of the growth in Crown Estate revenue. Under the Sovereign Grant the National Audit Office is able to audit the Royal Household.
On 18 November 2016 a plan was announced to increase the Sovereign Grant from 15% to 25% to renovate and repair Buckingham Palace. The percentage is set to revert to 15% when the project is finished in 2027. As a result, the Sovereign Grant amounted to £76.1m for 2017–18, which for the first time included the "dedicated amount £30.4m" to renovate Buckingham Palace. As of March 2019, the Sovereign Grant Reserve amounts to £44.4 million, with £36.8 million of it set aside "to meet future commitments for the Reservicing of Buckingham Palace".
Duchy of LancasterEdit
The Duchy of Lancaster is a Crown entity holding land and other assets to produce an income for the British Sovereign (now Queen Elizabeth II) consisting of land holdings and other assets. As it is held in perpetual trust for future generations of Sovereigns, the Sovereign is not entitled to the estate's capital. The revenue profits of the Duchy are presented to the Sovereign each year and form part of the Privy Purse, providing income for both the official and private expenses of the monarch. In the financial year ending 31 March 2015, the Duchy was valued at £472 million, providing £16 million in income.
In 2017, the Paradise Papers revealed that the Duchy held investments in two offshore financial centres, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Both are British Overseas Territories of which Queen Elizabeth II is monarch, and nominally appoints governors. Britain handles foreign policy for both territories to a large extent, but Bermuda has been self-governing since 1620. The Duchy's investments included First Quench Retailing off-licences and rent-to-own retailer BrightHouse. Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn posited that the Queen should apologize, saying anyone with money offshore for tax avoidance should "not just apologise for it, [but] recognise what it does to our society". A spokesman for the Duchy said that all of their investments are audited and legitimate and that the Queen voluntarily pays taxes on income she receives from Duchy investments.
Duchy of CornwallEdit
The Duchy of Cornwall is a Crown entity holding land and other assets to produce an income for the monarch's eldest son (if he is next in line to the throne). The Duke of Cornwall (currently, Prince Charles) receives revenue, some of which he applies towards charitable work and official activities, supported by the Queen's grant-in-aid funding to provide assistance with official travel and property. These financial arrangements also cover the official expenditure of some members of his immediate family. The Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex all have their official expenses paid from Duchy income, assisted by funds from the Queen's Sovereign Grant. For the fiscal year 2011–12 the Duchy was valued at £728 million with an annual profit of £18.3 million paid to the Prince. At the beginning of 2020 the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they would no longer receive funds from the Sovereign Grant, which had covered 5 percent of their costs. The Duchy of Cornwall had paid 95 percent of their expenses and it continued to support them until the summer of 2020, when the couple became financially independent.
The Duke of Edinburgh received a parliamentary annuity of £359,000 per year from the Treasury. In the past some other members of the British royal family also received funding in the form of parliamentary annuities. The Civil List Act 1952 provided for an allowance to Princess Margaret as well as allowances to the queen's younger children among others. The Civil List Act 1972 added further members of the royal family to the annuity list.[who?] By 2002 there were eight recipients of parliamentary annuities, all receiving a combined total of £1.5 million annually. Between 1993 and 2012 the Queen voluntarily refunded the cost of these annuities to the Treasury. The Sovereign Grant Act 2011 abolished all of these other than that received by the Duke of Edinburgh. Subsequently, the living costs of the members of the royal family who carry out official duties, including the Princess Royal, the Duke of York, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex, have mainly been met through the Queen's income from the Duchy of Lancaster.
The Crown has a legal tax-exempt status because certain Acts of Parliament do not apply to it. Crown bodies such as The Duchy of Lancaster are not subject to legislation concerning income tax, capital gains tax or inheritance tax. Furthermore, the Sovereign has no legal liability to pay such taxes. The Duchy of Cornwall claims a Crown exemption meaning the Prince of Wales is not legally liable to pay income or corporation tax on Duchy revenues, although this has been disputed. The prince voluntarily pays income tax, although questions have been raised about expense claims that would limit his tax liability. 
A "Memorandum of Understanding on Royal Taxation" was published on 5 February 1993 and amended in 1996, 2009 and 2013. It is intended that the arrangements in the memorandum will be followed by the next monarch. The memorandum describes the arrangements by which the Queen and the Prince of Wales make voluntary payments to the HM Revenue and Customs in lieu of tax to compensate for their tax exemption. The details of the payments are private.
The Queen voluntarily pays a sum equivalent to income tax on her private income and income from the Privy Purse (which includes the Duchy of Lancaster) that is not used for official purposes. The Sovereign Grant is exempted. A sum equivalent to capital gains tax is voluntarily paid on any gains from the disposal of private assets made after 5 April 1993. Many of the Sovereign's assets were acquired earlier than this date but payment is only made on the gains made afterwards. Arrangements also exist for a sum in lieu of inheritance tax to be voluntarily paid on some of the Queen's private assets. Property passing from monarch to monarch is exempted, as is property passing from the consort of a former monarch to the current monarch.
The Prince of Wales voluntarily pays a sum equivalent to income tax on that part of his income from the Duchy of Cornwall that is in excess of what is needed to meet official expenditure. From 1969 he made voluntary tax payments of 50% of the profits, but this reduced to 25% in 1981 when he married Lady Diana Spencer. These arrangements were replaced by the memorandum in 1993. The income of the Prince of Wales from sources other than the Duchy of Cornwall is subject to tax in the normal way.
Private wealth of the QueenEdit
The Queen has a private income from her personal investment portfolio, though her personal wealth and income are not known. Jock Colville, a former private secretary to the Queen (when she was Princess Elizabeth) and a director of her bank, Coutts, estimated her wealth at £2 million in 1971 (the equivalent of about £28 million today). An official statement from Buckingham Palace in 1993 called estimates of £100 million "grossly overstated". In 2002, she inherited her mother's estate, thought to have been worth £70 million (the equivalent of about £115 million today). Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle are privately owned by the Queen.
Forbes magazine estimated the Queen's net worth at around $500 million (about £325 million) in 2011, while an analysis by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index put it at $425 million (about £275 million) in 2015. In 2012 the Sunday Times estimated the Queen's wealth as being £310 million ($504 million), and that year the Queen received a Guinness World Record as Wealthiest Queen. The Sunday Times Rich List 2015 estimated her wealth at £340 million, making her the 302nd richest person in the United Kingdom; that was the first year she was not among the Sunday Times Rich List's top 300 most wealthy since the list began in 1989. She was number one on the list when it began in 1989, with a reported wealth of £5.2 billion, which included state assets that were not hers personally, (approximately £13 billion in today's value).
Assets held in trustEdit
A number of possessions are held in trust by the Sovereign.
- The Crown Estate is one of the largest property portfolios in the United Kingdom, producing £211 million for the Treasury in the financial year 2007–08 and with holdings of £7.3 billion in 2011. The Crown Estate is not the personal property of the Monarch. It cannot be sold by the sovereign in a personal capacity, nor do any revenues, or debts, from the estate accrue to her. Instead, the Crown Estate is owned by the monarch in right of the Crown, a corporation sole representing the legal embodiment of the state. It is held in trust and governed by Act of Parliament, to which it makes an annual report. Revenue from the Crown Estate has been predicted to double in real terms between 2010 and 2020 with additional lease revenues deriving from the development of offshore wind farms within Britain's Renewable Energy Zone, the rights of which were granted to the Crown Estate by the Energy Act 2004.
- The Royal Collection is the art collection of the British royal family. It is one of the largest and most important art collections in the world, containing over 7,000 paintings, 40,000 watercolours and drawings, about 150,000 old master prints, historical photographs, tapestries, furniture, ceramics, books, gold and silver plate, arms and armour, jewellery and other works of art. The collection includes the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London (including the crown, orb and sceptre). It is physically dispersed between thirteen Royal residences and former residences across Britain. Although the collection belongs to the sovereign, it is not the personal property of Elizabeth II as a private individual. Instead the collection is held in trust by the Queen for her successors and the nation. The Treasury says these assets are "vested in the sovereign and cannot be alienated". Income is generated by the collection from public admissions and other sources. This income is received by the Royal Collection Trust, the collection's management charity, and not by the Queen.
- The occupied royal palaces in the United Kingdom such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are held in trust by the sovereign. The Royal Household is expected to use the Sovereign Grant to maintain the palaces. In May 2009 the Queen requested an extra £4 million annually from the government to carry out a backlog of repairs to Buckingham Palace. In 2010, the Royal Household requested an additional grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport but were refused on the basis that the scheme was "aimed at schools, hospitals, councils and housing associations for heating programmes which benefit low-income families". Over a third of the Royal estate was in disrepair by 2012–13 according to a report by the Public Accounts Committee. The cost of restoration was estimated to be £50 million, but the Reserve Fund was at a historic low of £1m. The monarch is also responsible for using the Sovereign Grant to pay the wages of 431 of the approximately 1,200 Royal Household staff, amounting to £18.2 million in 2014–15. In 2013, the Guardian newspaper reported that Buckingham Palace was using zero-hour contracts for its summer staff. In 2015 it was reported that at least four senior officials had been made redundant to reduce costs.
Lobbying and legal exemptionsEdit
In November 1973, the Queen’s private lawyer successfully lobbied the UK government to change proposed legislation in order to conceal her private wealth from the public. The government subsequently inserted a clause into the law granting itself the power to exempt companies used by “heads of state” from new transparency measures. This hid the Queen’s private shareholdings and investments until 2011.
On other occasions the monarch’s advisers requested exclusions from proposed laws relating to road safety and land policy that might affect her estates, and pressed for government policy on historic sites to be altered.
The Queen was exempted from the 2017 Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Act, a law that seeks to prevent the destruction of cultural heritage, such as archaeological sites, works of art and important books, in future wars. This means police are barred from searching the Queen’s private estates for stolen or looted artefacts.
The Queen’s lawyers also lobbied Scottish ministers to change a draft law, the Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill, to exempt her private land from an initiative to cut carbon emissions. As a result the Queen is the only person in Scotland not required to facilitate the construction of pipelines to heat buildings using renewable energy.
The Guardian identified 67 instances in which Scottish bills have been reviewed by the Queen. They include legislation dealing with planning laws, property taxation, protections from tenants and a 2018 bill that prevents forestry inspectors from entering crown land without the Queen’s permission.
A spokesperson for the Queen said: “Queen’s Consent is a parliamentary process, with the role of sovereign purely formal. Consent is always granted by the monarch where requested by government.”
- "The Sovereign's gracious message to the House of Commons re: The Sovereign Grant Bill" (PDF). Buckingham Palace. 29 June 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
- "Sovereign Grant Bill – Further background information provided to Members of Parliament in advance of the Bill's Second Reading Debate on 14 July 2011" (PDF). Her Majesty's Treasury. July 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
- Royal Finances: The Civil List, Official web site of the British Monarchy, retrieved 18 June 2010
- The Privy Purse and Treasurer's Office, accessed 13 June 2010
- "Royals 'cost the taxpayer £37.4m'". BBC News. 28 June 2006.
- Verkaik, Robert (28 June 2002). "First look at royal finances fails to satisfy MPs". The Independent. London.[dead link]
- Royal Finances: Head of State Expenditure, Official web site of the British Monarchy, archived from the original on 14 May 2010, retrieved 18 June 2010
- "Spending Review: Royal family to face 14% cuts". BBC News. 20 October 2010.
- Verkaik, Robert (21 October 2010). "Royal 'cuts' could make Charles the richest king in British history". The Independent. London.
- "Cost of Royal Family rises £1.5m". BBC News. 29 June 2009.
- "The true cost of the royals". Republic. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
- "Sovereign Grant Annual Report 2012–13". The Official Website of the British Monarchy. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- "Royal funding changes become law". BBC News. 18 October 2011.
- "Determination of the amount of Sovereign Grant". www.legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- Davies, Caroline (18 November 2016). "Buckingham Palace to undergo 'essential' £370m refurbishment". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- "Financial Reports 2017-18". The Royal Family. 27 June 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
- "The Sovereign Grant and Sovereign Grant Reserve - Year to 31 March 2019" (PDF). The Royal Family. 25 June 2019. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
- "Duchy of Lancaster - FAQs". Duchy of Lancaster. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
- "Privy Purse and Duchy of Lancaster". Royal Household. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
- "Annual Report 2013" (PDF). Duchy of Lancaster. 31 March 2013.
- Royal Finances: Privy Purse and Duchy of Lancaster, Official web site of the British Monarchy, retrieved 18 June 2010
- "Duchy of Lancaster - Management and Finance". Duchy of Lancaster. Archived from the original on 17 May 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
- Osborne, Hilary (5 November 2017). "Revealed: Queen's private estate invested millions of pounds offshore". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 November 2017. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
- "Paradise Papers: Queen should apologise, suggests Corbyn". BBC. 6 November 2017. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- "Who pays for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex?". The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall Website. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
- "Annual Report and Accounts Year Ended 31st March 2012" (PDF). Duchy Of Cornwall. 1 June 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- "Prince Harry and Meghan: Where do they get their money?". BBC. 9 January 2020. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
- Therrien, Alex (24 June 2021). "Charles financially supported Sussexes until summer of 2020 - Clarence House". BBC News.
- The amount was set by the Civil List (Increase of Financial Provision) Order 1990. It was initially set at £40,000 in the Civil List Act 1952, raised to £65,000 by the Civil List Act 1972, and raised to £165,000 by the Civil List (Increase of Financial Provision) Order 1984.
- "What Is The True Cost Of The Monarchy?". Royal Central. 17 February 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- "Civil List Act 1952: Chapter 37". legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
- Verkaik, Robert (30 May 2002). "Royal aides want to see abolition of Civil List". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 24 February 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
- "Further provision for members of the Royal Family". www.legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
- "Memorandum of Understanding on Royal Taxation" (PDF). HM Government. 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
- Rayner, Gordon (21 June 2015). "Queen's finances are safe from cuts for two years". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
- Guardian. "Prince Charles's £700m estate accused of tax avoidance". Retrieved 31 March 2021.
- Express. "Prince Charles accused of 'dodging around' for tax for DECADES by author of tell-all book". Retrieved 31 March 2021.
- Goldsmith, Vivien (12 February 1993). "The Queen's Finances: Ordinary tax allowances for royals". The Independent. London.
- Philip Hall, 1992, Royal Fortune, Tax, Money and the Monarchy, page xxii, Bloomsbury, ISBN 0-7475-1098-9
- "Royal overspend prompts call to open palace doors". BBC News. 28 January 2014.
- UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
- The Times, 9 July 1971; Pimlott, p. 401.
- Lord Chamberlain Lord Airlie quoted in Hoey, p. 225 and Pimlott, p. 561
- "Queen inherits Queen Mother's estate". 17 May 2002. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
- The Royal Residences: Overview, Royal Household, archived from the original on 1 May 2011, retrieved 9 December 2009
- Kroll, Luisa. "Just How Rich Are Queen Elizabeth And Her Family?". Forbs,com. Forbs. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
- Metcalf, Tom. "Queen Elizabeth II Isn't as Rich as You Think". bloomberg.com. bloomberg. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
- "Wealthiest Queen". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
- Helen Nianias (26 April 2015). "The Queen drops off the top end of the Sunday Times Rich List for the first time since its inception". The Independent. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
- "Rich List: Changing face of wealth". BBC News. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
- About Us, Crown Estate, 6 July 2011, archived from the original on 1 September 2011, retrieved 1 September 2011
- FAQs, Crown Estate, archived from the original on 3 September 2011, retrieved 1 September 2011
- "Royal Special: Sovereign wealth". The Independent. London. 31 May 2002. Archived from the original on 2 May 2011.
- "The Royal Collection". The Royal Household. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
- What is the Royal Collection?, The Royal Collection, retrieved 12 November 2008
- Pierce, Andrew (30 May 2009). "Queen must open palace more in return for extra funds". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Archived from the original on 5 June 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2009.
- "Queen asked for heating grant from Government". The Daily Telegraph. London. 24 September 2010.
- Younger, Rachel (28 January 2014). "Royal Estate Overspend Leaves £50m Repair Bill". Sky News. London. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- Palmer, Richard (30 May 2015). "Royal Family faces major financial review as costs soar by a third in three years". Daily Express. London. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
- Simon Neville, Matthew Taylor and Phillip Inman. "Buckingham Palace uses zero-hours contracts for summer staff | Money". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Sabur, Rozina (23 May 2015). "Buckingham Palace 'axes at least four' of the Queen's senior officials". The telegraph. London. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- "Revealed: Queen lobbied for change in law to hide her private wealth". the Guardian. 7 February 2021. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
- "Queen lobbied for changes to three more laws, documents reveal". the Guardian. 8 February 2021. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
- "Revealed: police barred from searching Queen's estates for looted artefacts". the Guardian. 25 March 2021. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
- "Queen secretly lobbied Scottish ministers for climate law exemption". the Guardian. 28 July 2021. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
- "Revealed: Queen vetted 67 laws before Scottish parliament could pass them". the Guardian. 28 July 2021. Retrieved 1 August 2021.