There can be no doubt that the hereditary revenues of the Crown, including the Crown Estate and the Royal Duchies, are the Crown’s.
The argument of some journalists that the taxpayer funds the monarchy is completely misleading; given their agenda, probably deliberately so. They revel in stories about a “rise for The Queen”. The point is that we are talking about the costs of the monarchy, not some personal income for The Queen.
(We now know that some of them were prepared not only to behave unethically, but also in breach of the law. The current scandal in Britain began when it was realised that the message banks of Prince William and Prince Harry were being hacked for the News of the World.
More recently, royal protection officers have been accused of betraying the Queen by selling information on her movements and telephone details to the same newspaper with other accusations that these crimes were being committed by other newspapers.)
The fundamental fact is this. As we have long argued here, the ownership of the Crown Estate is vested in the Crown.
…evolution of funding…
Now there are areas of the law which are not absolutely neat and clear-cut. This is particularly so in a society which has lived under the rule of law longer than most and where the constitution has evolved as it has in the United Kingdom.
The Crown used to pay for the expenses of the government from its own purse. This has gradually evolved so that Parliament now supplies the government with its funds from taxation. A government which cannot obtain supply must resign, as we saw in Australia in 1975.How then are the non- governmental expenses of the Crown covered? The practice for the last two centuries has been this.
At the beginning of a reign, the King or Queen has agreed to hand the revenues from the Crown Estate to Parliament. In return the Parliament – which incidentally includes the Sovereign – grants a Civil List ‘for the support of the Royal Household and of the honour and dignity of the Crown.’Could a monarch refuse to hand over the revenues of the Crown estate?
Is this a matter in the discretion of the King or Queen or is it now an established constitutional convention?
One of the most authoritative constitutional lawyers, the late FW Maitland, concluded that Parliament seems to think that a King or Queen “could not, even with Parliament's concurrence deprive his (or her) successors of their hereditary right.” Alternatively, he said, Parliament might have thought that it would not be fair to ask a King to do that.
The important principle surely is the King or Queen should enjoy a great degree of financial independence from the government of the day. Vernon Bogdanor, an authority on the Crown rightly l points out that, the private secretary’s department works for all the Realms and not just for Britain, and "these Commonwealth monarchies are completely independent of the British government. It would not therefore be constitutionally proper to obtrude the United Kingdom Parliament or British ministers into the relationship between the sovereign and other Commonwealth monarchies.”
To this should be added the need for the office of the head of the Commonwealth also to be completely independent.
..Civil List unsustainable…
Because of inflation, the Civil List has had to be supplemented by specific grants-in-aid. In presenting the Sovereign Grant Bill to the House of Commons, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon George Osborne MP said the current Civil List arrangements are no longer sustainable. They are inflexible, less than transparent and rely on a reserve of public funds that is about to be depleted.Under the new arrangements, the Civil List will be superseded by a Sovereign Grant presently fixed at 15% of the revenues of the Crown Estate, with a floor to protect against unusual variations in the revenues.
We remain of the view that all the revenues go to the Crown with The Queen deciding how much should go to the Government was not adopted. While an audit is appropriate we do not think that the Public Accounts Committee should have any role in this matter. From the scandals which occurred during the last Parliament, the politicians are hardly the ones which should be making judgements about the royal accounts
Worse, every so often a politician will emerge wishing to make a name in the media. He or she will focus on some minor matter in the accounts and make extravagant and baseless allegations designed to present some quite legitimate expenditure as some sort of profligacy. Why give such people an avenue for self publicity?
In the meantime, our attention has been drawn by The British Monarchist League to an observation made in the House of Commons by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP on 30 June 2011.
He said: “There is no requirement on a new sovereign to agree to hand the Crown Estate over in return for a civil list. The honourable member for North Durham (Mr Jones) said that this is taxpayers’ money and not the Crown’s money, but it really is the Crown’s money because, on becoming King, the Prince of Wales or any other sovereign could simply rescind the agreement and claim it back. The Crown Estate is the sovereign’s property, which the sovereign gives to Parliament to help to pay for the costs of the nation; it is not taxpayers’ money that is being handed over. ”
As Thomas J. Muscatello-DeLacroix Mills, the Secretary General, of British Monarchist League says:
“ This should put to rest how the Crown Estate is viewed in Britain by the MP's. There is no doubt that any attempt to abolish the Crown would result in a huge legal battle surrounding the royal family, but as this question and answer session shows we all know exactly who controls and has claims to what. The Crown Estate is not owned by the public and the public do not pay out of their own taxes to operate the Crown.”
…monarchy self funded…
(Continued below) .
It is clear the Crown Estate is vested in the Crown, and its revenues are the Crown’s. And the Crown has agreed, graciously, to hand the bulk of these to Parliament and to be accountable as to its use of the remainder.
Let’s hear no more about the taxpayers funding the monarchy.
They don’t – whether they are taxpayers of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, St Christopher and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, St Lucia, The Bahamas, indeed of all 53 members of the Commonwealth.
Our monarchy is clearly self funded. .