Royal finances: Expert discusses pandemics impact on income
The Queen is under new scrutiny after a report revealed she had successfully lobbied the Government to change a bill so that it would conceal her private wealth from the public. Her private lawyer pressured ministers so that her shareholdings could be concealed. A clause was subsequently included in the proposed bill which allowed companies used by “heads of state” to be exempt from the new rules.
This new protocol was suggested as part of a 1973 bill, and was in place until at least 2011, according to Downing Street memos found in the National Archives.
The monarch was employing the procedure called the Queen’s consent, which allows her to secretly influence bills which could impact the royal prerogative or the crown’s interests before they enter Parliament.
A civil servant recorded a claim from the Queen’s lawyer that the monarch would find any disclosure of her private wealth “embarrassing”.
This report came to light over the weekend, shortly after tax advisor David Lesperance told Express.co.uk that Prime Minister Boris Johnson should look to make royal finances more accessible to the public.
He agreed it would be a “good thing” if the Government were to look at increasing the transparency of the royal accounts as part of its post-pandemic recovery programme.
Mr Lesperance continued: “I think generally that would be a good thing — you want to avoid the lack of transparency.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Boris Johnson greeting the Queen
“When there’s no information, conspiracy fills the void.
“I think most people would find if every penny were accounted for, it’s a lot more boring than conspiracy theories of the Illuminati…”
He explained that the advantage of transparency is apparent in the way Prince Harry and Meghan Markle handled their Frogmore Cottage renovations.
It cost a staggering £2.4million for the couple to alter their new Windsor property after they married, when they intended to live there full-time as working royals.
However, when they chose to step away from the Royal Family last year, the couple were able to pay back the extraordinary amount back to the taxpayer.
Mr Lesperance noted: “And have you heard a word about it since?”
READ MORE: Meghan and Harry warned of Frogmore EVICTION
Harold Wilson with the Queen — the 1973 bill passed into law when he was in No10
In contrast, the grey area over other royals, such as Prince Andrew, has triggered widespread speculation.
The Duke of York stepped down from his public role in November 2019 due to the ongoing backlash over his association with Jeffrey Epstein.
It’s thought that when he was forced to take early retirement, he gave up his £249,000 annual salary which he received from public funds.
Reports that he continues to earn money from the Queen despite ceasing to represent her more than a year ago have appalled royal fans.
An insider told the Daily Star that he was being financed through the Duchy of Lancaster, the Queen’s private estate which consists of 18,480 hectares.
While this is said to earn the Queen approximately £21million per year, it is not clear how much is given to her son.
The sovereign’s private wealth is estimated to be in the range of hundreds of millions — day Times even suggested she was worth a staggering £340million in 2016.
Had the unamended bill from 1973 been passed into law, her royal accounts would be accessible to the public.
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Meghan and Harry were transparent with the renovation costs of Frogmore Cottage
Prince Andrew is allegedly still funded by the Queen despite stepping back from the Firm in 2019
However, after being lobbied by the Palace, the Government planned to create a shell company in which certain investors — including heads of state, governments, central monetary authorities, investment boards and international bodies formed by governments — could hold shares.
The public would subsequently be unable to track which of the shares owned by the company were held on the Queen’s behalf.
After a delay due to the 1974 general election, the bill became law in 1976 under Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
Buckingham Palace did not respond to questions about the Palace’s lobbying efforts when contacted by The Guardian.
Addressing the use of the Queen’s consent clause, a spokesperson explained: “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.
“Whether Queen’s consent is required is decided by Parliament, independently from the royal household, in matters that would affect crown interests, including personal property and personal interests of the monarch.
How the Crown Estate operates — one of the ways the Queen receives funding
“If consent is required, draft legislation is, by convention, put to the sovereign to grant solely on advice of ministers and as a matter of public record.”
The monarchy is also funded through the Sovereign Grant, which comes from the Treasury and is funded by taxpayers.
The Queen surrenders all her profits from the Crown Estate to the Government, and she then receives a portion of it back which she divides among her most senior royals, to help them carry out public duties.
Her private income is called the Privy Purse, and is thought to cover expenses incurred by other members of the Royal Family.
Her other valuable assets, such as Balmoral Castle and the Sandringham estate, also contribute towards her general wealth.