Opinion | King Charles’ riches spotlight an open secret about the monarchy’s money

After 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II died last week and was succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III. Surprisingly, there was a wave of mourning over the death of the queen. The emperor was beloved by millions of people in Britain and beyond.

But whatever your feelings for Elizabeth, it is clear that the institution of the British monarchy is far from benevolent. There have been many important passages on the global legacy of colonialism of the monarchy. The ascension of the new King of Britain also presented a great opportunity to talk about the socio-economic impact and influence of the monarchy.

The ascension of the new King of Britain is a great opportunity to talk about the socio-economic impact of the monarchy.

Today, socio-economic instability is inevitable in Britain. The new prime minister, Liz Truss, was in office just three days before the Queen’s death. But she faces a growing crisis as energy bills soar, food bank usage has doubled in the past decade, and the economic effects of Brexit are still being felt.

Meanwhile, it is very difficult to calculate the true value of the British monarchy. The Sunday Times’ Rich List calculated the Queen’s personal wealth as £370 million (over $420 million), while author and royal expert David McClure estimated it at £400 million (about $460 million). Other estimates are closer to a billion. Brand Finance, a leading consultancy firm in brand valuation, estimates the capital value of the monarchy at 67.5 billion pounds (over $77 billion).

It is so difficult to calculate an exact net worth because royal finances are kept a secret. For example, any inheritance passed from Elizabeth to Charles – “sovereign to sovereign” – is exempt from inheritance tax due to a unique arrangement passed by the United Kingdom’s government in 1993 to preserve royal property. This includes the Crown Estate, a vast portfolio of land and assets with assets worth £15.2 billion, which are held “in the possession of the Crown” by the monarch. This means that it is not personally owned by Elizabeth or Charles, but by the Crown as an institution. The property is made up of major central London real estate, shopping malls, forests, foreshores and wind farms.

The wills of senior royals are sealed, and the contents are kept secret to protect the “honor and prestige” of the queen. It includes the will of the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, who died late last year.

The numbers we know are massive. the monarchy is officially funded by taxpayer-funded payment, Sovereign Grant, an amount calculated from 15%-25% of the profits of the Crown Estate. In 2021–2022, the royal family’s financial report calculated this as £86.3 million ($98.5 million). But the important point is that the sovereign grant is not all the money that the monarchy receives. Security is usually paid for by the Metropolitan Police, and the Duke of Cornwall (formerly Charles, now Prince William) receives funding from the Duchy of Cornwall, another vast portfolio of land and property worth over £1 billion. Is. (According to the BBC, this portfolio generates approximately £20 million in profits annually.)

The monarch also controls the Duchy of Lancaster, 71 square miles of land and property, with assets worth approximately £652 million. (This portfolio also generates around £20 million per year.) Taking all of this into account, the anti-monarchical campaign group Republic suggests that the “real cost” of the monarchy is £345 million annually. While the official royal website states that the cost of the monarchy is “£1.29 per person in the UK”, if we take the wider picture into account, the British taxpayer is actually enabling and supporting the monarchy in many more ways.

Charles was reportedly heavily involved in ensuring that the Duchy of Cornwall turned into a billion-pound estate empire.

Recently, we have seen glimpses of How The monarchy manages its money – and those glimpses have prompted renewed calls for reforms from critics. In 2017, “The Paradise Papers”—a leaked set of documents showing wealthy people and companies using offshore investments as tax havens—revealed that the Duchy of Lancaster (owned by King, then Elizabeth) One had invested millions of pounds. Funds in the Cayman Islands.

Journalists also found that the Duchy of Cornwall (owned by Charles, then heir to the throne) invested in an offshore company that lobbied against climate change agreements.

These revelations raise serious questions about the lack of transparency in the monarchy and the ethics of some financial decisions.

As prince, Charles was reportedly heavily involved in ensuring that the Duchy of Cornwall turned into a billion-pound estate empire. Under its ownership, the duchy hired teams of professional managers who increased the value and profits of the portfolio by 50%. It generates millions of pounds in rental income annually.

Charles has also been involved in the creation of Poundbury, a 400-acre “urban extension” in the city of Dorchester, built on Duchy of Cornwall land, and designed in accordance with his vision of attractive architecture. About 4,000 people live in the community. Despite operating like a corporation, the Duchy of Cornwall does not pay corporate taxes.

In addition, Charles has been embroiled in various controversies in recent years over donations to the charitable foundation that operates in his name. In June, the Sunday Times reported that Charles had accepted 3 million euros in cash loaded into shopping bags and suitcases from former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, which was due to be given to his foundation. (A spokesperson said at the time that all proper philanthropic procedures were followed.)

There is also an ongoing story about an alleged “cash for honours” scandal, in which a Saudi businessman allegedly donated to Charles’ charities in exchange for knighthood and citizenship. Charles has denied that he was aware of it. (“The Prince of Wales was not aware of an alleged offer of honor or British citizenship based on a donation to his charity,” a spokesman said earlier this year.) Knighthood honors in Britain and British overseas territories. Given for merit or achievement.

Ultimately, it should come as no surprise that the royal family has maintained a vast fortune. Britain’s museums, cities and celebrations are testimony to the royal family’s splendid wealth. But as in other countries in Europe, that glow may be fading. Charles does not have the same public affection as his mother. Will his rule open the door to long-standing conversations about the financial inequalities inherent in the monarchy?

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