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Royal Money: Charles III and the Wealth Dimension

Once the fixated adoration with the late Queen Elizabeth II starts cooling, the accountants of public welfare and decency will be stunned to realise the costs and wealth associated with the royal institution. Her successor, Charles III, is continuing in that vein, a jarring note of wealth and pomp even as prices rise and the hefty bills for citizens (should we say subjects?), bite.

The argument that the monarchy makes money for the British state and others in the Commonwealth starts to seem shallow the more one looks at the accounts and the standing of the institution. But nonetheless, individuals such as Charles Scarlett-Smith, director of Brand Finance Canada, could only see the Queen in terms of beneficial dollars and cents. “When we’re thinking about Queen Elizabeth II’s brand, we really are being synonymous with the royal family and the monarchy.”

In June 2022, accounts for the Sovereign Grant, which cover funds for the official monarch and the household’s official expenses, was £86.3 million for the 2021-22 year. Official expenditure came in at greater than the Sovereign Grant and supplementary income earned – a net expenditure amount of £102.4 million. This registered an increase of 17% from the previous year. Much of the inflation came from the reservicing of Buckingham Palace.

The Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Michael Stevens, made the following observation: “The year covered in the report reflects some return to normality in many ways for the Royal Household with physical engagements, travel and inward visits by Heads of States undertaken.”

What can be expected of the new monarch? In terms of cash and assets, the picture is bewilderingly archaic and expansive. Even before coming to the throne, Charles had developed the Duchy of Cornwall, a creation of Edward III in the 14th century, into a spanning corporate enterprise, with the aid of a team of managers, worth $US1.4 billion. The amount was such as to edge out the Queen’s own private portfolio worth US$949 million. These figures are dwarfed by assets of the whole royal family (Forbes estimates the amount at US$28 billion), which say nothing about the actual scale of personal wealth.

On the surface, the Duchy’s punchy economic success might suggest aptitude, thrift and industry on the part of Charles. But this ignores the insulated benefits and encouragements granted the royal family, and, in particular, the Duchy of Cornwall.

The Duchy in question, like much of the royal family, is an odd beast of history. Only 13 per cent of the duchy’s 135,000 acres is located in Cornwall itself. Other estimates range from Kevin Cahill’s assessment of 141,000 acres arrived at in his 2001 work Who Owns Britain and Ireland, and one offered by National Geographic: 135,526 acres.

The rest is dispersed across 23 counties in England and Wales, with the heaviest concentration in the South West. In the county itself lie a number of housing developments, much luxury holiday accommodation, monuments and estuaries, the latter dedicated to business, recreation and fishing purposes.

Other ownings include The Oval cricket ground, with Surrey County Cricket Club being the sole leaseholder since 1874, and a number of residential and commercial properties both in and outside London. “With these remaining properties,” says the Duchy of Cornwall’s website, “the Duchy operates a policy of retention. In other words, it refurbishes and re-lets rather than selling a property if a vacancy arises.” The current commercial portfolio of 18 properties is valued at £124 million.

In its constitution, the Duchy is a creature of medieval dimension. It is not a company and is therefore exempt from Corporations Tax. Nor is it a public body, despite being accountable to Parliament and the Treasury. While it is subject to requests under the Environmental Information Regulations, it is immune to the workings of Freedom of Information laws. With such opacity of financial arrangements at work, the heralded money-making talent of the new king looks somewhat misplaced.

With the Queen’s passing, the tradition of the handout and the gift again comes into play. There will be no inheritance tax, something common citizenry are not exempted from. We will not know for decades what her will disposed of, but to Charles go the private estates such as Balmoral in Scotland, and Sandringham, where Royal Studs, the horse farm, is located. Then comes the vast private collection of jewellery, art, the treasured stamp collection and a number of personal investments, which come to the value of US$500 million.

The new monarch has also had money issues of another nature. Last year, Norman Baker, who was Home office minister for crime and prevention between 2013 and 2014, revealed that he had written privately to the head of London’s Metropolitan Police Force and filed a complaint against Charles on the issue of awarding an honour to a donor. The Saudi businessman in question, Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, is said to have donated over £1.5 million to Charles’ Scottish charities.

Graham Smith, CEO of the activist group Republic, also filed a complaint against Charles along the same lines: that both he and his close aide and former valet, Michael Fawcett, had allegedly breached the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. In the peculiar world of royal family relations, Fawcett made himself indispensable as chief squeezer of toothpaste onto the royal toothbrush when required. “I can manage without just about anyone, except for Michael,” Charles once stated.

A published email from Fawcett to an aide of bin Mafouz, written in 2017 as chief executive of the Dumfries House Trust, promised, “In light of the ongoing and most recent generosity of His Excellency… I am happy to confirm to you, in confidence, that we are willing and happy to contribute to the application for Citizenship.” An effort would also be made to apply “to increase His Excellency’s honour from Honorary CBE to that of KBE in accordance with Her Majesty’s Honour’s Committee.”

Charles, for his part, denies having any knowledge of the scheme, something considered risible by Baker. “The idea that Fawcett was running a rogue operation without telling [Charles] is simply unbelievable.” The issue of royal money and its inscrutable mysteries is unlikely to go away.

 

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18 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    From this article it appears that Liz Truss could solve all the financial problems created for Great Britain by Boris simply by holding a Republican Revolution and separating Chuckles from his ill-gained Royal wealth ….. just as Henry VIII separated the Roman Church form its multiple MILLIONS and myriad of landed properties.

    Bring on the Australian republic with an Australian borne Head of State.

  2. Phil Pryor

    The royal rubbish tip and endless garage sale of previous robberies, confiscations, appropriations and grabs is astonishing, quite sickening in its glaring unfirnesses, insincerities, naked graft, indecencies. After 1066, William the thieving, murdering, egofixated, papally driven bastard claimed that it was all his, from the great estates and properties the gold and jewels, down to the last public hair of a shivering and fearful subject. It is so good to know that the racketeering went on, with Cromwell and Henry VIII among the great slaughterers and burglars, ruthless in all deeds. Charles le T’ird is merely a self infecting large lad (at 74??) so may not be too nasty. One may well imagine a better ruler carved out of a ripe banana, but he will be guided by Truss.., ho, ho. We know that the late queen was the most forward inside trader in the world, getting dispatch boxes, great advice in rapid quantity and quality, a scene of mutual admiration and enrichment. May the unfairness, accumulations, acquisitions, vanity and absurdity of this go on.., and on.

  3. THE JUDGE

    Why are the people paying for the funeral when there is so much wealth in the family?

  4. Keitha Granville

    It should be noted that the art collection, the jewels and the palaces can never be sold by the Royal Family, they are simply passed from sovereign to the next in perpetuity. Should the monarchy crumble, all of those things will belong to the State. In the event of an especially miserly PM I suspect they WOULD then be sold off to cover treasury losses – as in right now for the pandemic costs. A sad day for the UK I think given the popularity of the said palaces, jewels and art to tourists, judging by the numbers watching changing of the Guard when I was there 6 years ago. What might the palaces become ? Luxury hotels ? Office buildings? Swanky apartments? Fancy being able to say your address was Flat 25 Buckingham Palace!! Given that the sale will be made by the government I reckon any number of wealthy MPs might be happy to grab a perch.

    I would be very interested to know how many people have employment as a result of the monarchy, directly I mean, not even considering the huge numbers involved in Royal tourism ventures. ( note: a considerable number less after this week, the King has apparently let the Clarence House staff go as he won’t need them) How much is currently paid in tax by the Royals ? How much money is generated in the Duchy of Cornwall which IS taxable ? Can we quantify any of this, any of the tasks and duties performed by the family ? Patronage of charities and trusts, supporting good causes – landmines spring to mind championed by the late Princess of Wales.

    It’s not quite so black and white as simply take their stuff away and they can go play elsewhere. They have sufficient private funds to do just that, but at what price to the UK ? How about we add up the costs of the US President and entourage – they do their level best to invent a “royalty”, a very poor second.

  5. Michael Taylor

    31% of all children in the UK live in poverty.

    In London, on average, one homeless person dies a night.

    If the Royals bring the tourist £ to the UK, then it’s not being distributed fairly.

  6. Harry Lime

    Nothing represents the dire straits of planet earth more than the obsession with a bunch of dysfunctional, anachronistic, freeloading,inbred tosspots.What would the garbage media talk about without this diabolical crap?Rule Brittania went down the shitter a hundred years ago.
    It’s looking more and more like we are fucked.

  7. Canguro

    Tourism is a relatively recent development in the broad bell curve of human activity. The expression ‘loved to death’ is a reflection of this aspect of behaviour; the wish to go to some place – landscapes, cities, countries – based on the hype and opinion of others seems to an overwhelming motive for millions who follow suit, but it follows, consequentially, that when millions of feet tromp the same streets, mountains, riversides, footpaths, whereever, there is a cost measured in the metrics of degradation.

    Another expression of tourism might be coined, ‘rubber-necking’, a function of he said, she said, ‘this or that place is simply gorgeous, fabulous, you must see it before you die.’ I suppose that the term itself is defined in a narrow sense, but perhaps it can be broadened; it might not only refer to physical locations of interest, but for other reasons such as education on matters political, environmental, educational, social and so on.

    The advent of the Industrial Revolution and the uptake of fossil fuel energy sources lead in due course to mass transport technologies, and thus the opportunities for millions to travel. Aided by more efficient means of transmitting information – newspapers, radio, TV, and now the internet – we’ve now emerged into an era where it is possible for almost everyone on the planet to be be apprised of the attractiveness of almost every location on the planet, which in turn brings us to the present moment and the phenomenon of multi-billion dollar global tourism, an aspect of modern life which is both blessing and curse.

    The Queen’s death affords an opportunity for the grief-porn adherents; the mile-long queues of those who for no other reason apart from the desire to say ‘I was there’ who will stand in line to file past the coffin of a deceased monarch. Today this, tomorrow, Blackpool, or the French Riviera. The behaviour of the masses is one of humanity’s stranger behaviours.

    In 1963, as a child newly enrolled in a boy’s school in Adelaide, a recent arrival after a decade of living in a small country village, I was one among the thousands of children taken to the Victoria Park racecourse to cheer the Queen as she and her consort did a lap of the track in the open-top Rolls. A Mexican wave of hysterical cheering & waving children accompanied the procession, but I was curiously unmoved, albeit mystified as to why these children behaved as they did. It was a salient lesson in not getting swept away by the powerful emotions of the crowd, that mindless identification with the circumstances.

    Humans being, well, human, nothing ever changes. We’re seeing the same as I did nearly sixty years ago. People flying to Britain from across the globe to participate in this behaviour of performative expression. Big carbon cost on account of a woman they never knew. Strange days indeed!

    As Michael points out, tourism is an inherently unfair thing; some benefit, others don’t. The tourism gravy train isn’t a free for all but restricted to those who have the means to benefit; for others who cannot, a cruel reminder of the harshness of being born into a competitive age and economy.

  8. wam

    Charlie was outside norwood high about 50 years ago and he said to a small group of girls ‘are you dagoes’ what an outcry but the poor bastard actually said was ‘are you day girls’. 40% inheritance tax is paid if a person’s estate (their property, money and possessions) is worth more than £325,000 when they die.(homes are usually exempt) there are probably loopholes for the rich. well canga an Adelaide student, child??? of 63 that got me thinking: public Adelaide High or one of the big 4 private Prince Alfred, St Peter’s, Pultney Grammar, Christian Brothers? About 10 years earlier my class was bussed to wayville to view the queen. My future wife was one of the little grade 3 students dressed in yellow with a hoop to perform for the car as it circled the oval. I didn’t see her performance nor the queen’s car, as I was banished back over the hill. That was a boon as I was sitting with the newly delivered milk and the bottles were deliciously cold.
    ps
    for a fleeting moment, in 1990, the late queen knew wam moir was a republican.

  9. Fred

    Dr Kampmark: Another cheap shot and a lousy conversation starter. The monarchy cost the UK taxpayer £102.4m during 2021-22 (an increase of 17% from the previous financial year) whereas the UK government had a total managed expenditure of over £1,053.3 billion in the same period. The Royals represent 0.0097% (less than 1/100th of a percent) which puts it in line with “unspecified sundry” budget expenses. We were going to spend more than that on effing car-parks, so get a reality check. Can you imagine the UK taking a vote to dump the Royals?

    That said, I’m not in favor of them having anything to do whatsoever with the running of Australia or appearing on our notes and coins.

  10. Canguro

    wam, PAC, a third-generation student in the footsteps of pater and grandpapa; the elder became a prominent Adelaide architect; the second a broken tragically fated person following the deaths at birth of his two younger siblings, four & eight years respectively after his birth and the consequent disastrous family dynamics, and the third, this scribe, an unwitting inheritor of his father’s utterly dysfunctional perspective on human relationships following his flight from Adelaide and his family to Malaya in the late thirties only to be eventually caught in the Japanese invasion and then to spend the rest of the war as a labourer on the Burmese Railroad.

    Just goes to show that a good education is no guarantee for a good future. As I’ve understood for some time now, the crucible in which we’re forged is the first five years of family life.

  11. Stephen S

    Just one of the many reasons why Australia should have been appalled at the very idea of a King Charles, and should have rejected it, long before Elizabeth died. She herself was fully aware he was a dunce – and backing Kerr was his first big blunder.

    Instead, our media has produced a tidal wave of nauseating Palace propaganda and Royalist bilge. Channelling Howard, Albanese has done the full-press doormat grovel, suspending parliament, declaring a day of national mourning, sanctifying Elizabeth’s memory, begging Charles to visit as soon as possible, and hastening to get the new King’s mug onto our coinage.

    Dutton is even worse. Flatly opposing an Australian head of state. Arguing the toss over the $5 note. Visibly, Australia is set for at least another decade or two of the white British Palace, with inane “debates” about republican “models”.

    If Albanese and Dutton had any cojones, they could push through legislation to unyoke the governor-general from the Palace, in this very term of parliament, Despite 121 years of Australian grovelling, they’re not even trying, are they.

  12. Harry Lime

    Right on, Stephen S.

  13. Greg

    Speaking of “hefty bills for citizens”, the annual money grab by royalty pales in comparison to what King Carpetbagger has planned near term.
    “war-like-footing” ‘Remarks by HRH The Prince of Wales at a Sustainable Finance Roundtable, Ottawa 18 May 2022’:
    ‘. . achieving a sustainable future is the economic growth story of our time . . to find ways of accelerating the transition of the global economy.”
    ‘transition’ is another way of saying “reset” presumably.
    “Governments alone simply do not have the trillions of dollars required to reach our stated climate, biodiversity and SDG targets. . . With trillions of dollars in assets, the private sector and private finance hold the ultimate key to our success.”

    In other words, King Karpetbag, on behalf of the parasite class, is going to dip into the savings of the private sector, ie your superannuation and your savings (via negative interest rates). And gullible fools will say ‘yes sir, yes sir, 3 bags full’.
    What has changed in 500 years, other than the average person has become more naive and indolent by and large?
    And does anyone think the media is not aware of the above?

  14. GL

    Spike Milligan (with a bit of The Goodies thrown in for good measure) pretty much summed up Charlie big ears-

  15. Kathryn

    Morrison’s deceitfulness, smug arrogance and lack of transparency border on fascism! The fact that yet another undemocratic, underhanded governor general (David Hurley) decided to collude with a notorious, ultra-conservative, power-obsessed autocrat in the LNP should provide egalitarian Australians with yet ANOTHER reason to want our nation to become a DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC as a matter or urgency! David Hurley, like the appalling, disgraced and totally discredited serial drunk, John Kerr, maintained a shocking bias towards the disreputable, born-to-rule LNP and was prepared to break every rule of democracy in order to conspire with the political psychopaths in the LNP to attain, maintain or extend their autocratic power! The appalling, illegal and fascist dismissal of a democratically-elected PM, Gough Whitlam, who was – without any doubt – the best, highest achieving PM in our history – should have been reason enough to become a Republic back in 1975. THAT fascist act is STILL viewed with a sense of justifiable rage and is STILL managing to divide our nation!

    ENOUGH! Not only does the supercilious role of governor general – and his/her enormous entourage – an UNELECTED parasitic role that costs Australian taxpayers millions of dollars every year (whilst the Queen’s representative in our nation, like the royal family themselves, live in grotesque luxury at OUR expense), the position provides tyrannical dictators in the LNP with a complicit accomplice they can use in order to usurp power using any underhanded, secretive measure they can muster!

    Yes, Queen Elizabeth II was a good, hard-working monarch – FOR ENGLAND AND THE UK – but she did precious little to serve Australia! The Queen lived a long life serving England and the UK and, at 96 years of age, her death is not altogether surprising or unexpected, however, it is now OVERTIME for us to cut the apron strings from England which is, after all, a nation where insufferable snobbery not only thrives, it is an inherent component of their elitist culture. As such, it is now OVERTIME for our egalitarian nation of Australia to finally grow up, stand on our own feet and become a Democratic Republic for once and for all! England has always been a nation that is steeped in regressive elitist traditions, stifling classism and sanctimonious hypocrisy where people considered a “lower caste” find it difficult to move beyond their perceived “station” in life. It is for THESE reasons that the rather abhorrent “institution” of the “Royal Family” prospers and thrives whereby, for no other reason that being born into the “right” family, whole generations of the self-promoting elitists in the Windsor family (and their pretentious hangers-on) can live in the type of obscene luxury that most hard-working taxpayers (who go on and on supporting them) will NEVER see! It is for THESE reasons that so many people from the UK are desperate to emigrate to fair-minded, egalitarian Australia! However, history has proven that the ONLY time Australia is NOT egalitarian is when we are mismanaged by the condescending elitists and power-obsessed political psychopaths in the LNP!

    The fact is that there are even millions of taxpayers WITHIN the UK who have had enough of the royal family and also want to become a Republic! Sadly, the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the prolonged never-ending mourning process – which is going on and on ad nauseum to the point of becoming nauseatingly maudlin – has probably put back the Republican debate another decade! This is extremely unfortunate because the fact is that England – as a nation – has always maintained a long-held contempt for Australia and Australians (and other colonial nations). The stranglehold the current system has over our country impedes our growth, as a nation! For as long as we allow this system to continue, Australia can NEVER really evolve until we take the BIG step into becoming a Democratic Republic where we maintain autonomy over our OWN destiny and do not have to rely on the pretentious whims of an UNELECTED representative (the governor general) of a foreign power! It is important to point out that Australia can STILL be a member of the Commonwealth even if we become a Democratic Republic – the best part about this “dual” role is that we, at last, get RID of the tenacious, elitist and undemocratic role of the governor general! Wake up, Australia and MOVE ON!

  16. wam

    Canga,
    In 1955 woodville high was drawn to play PAC B under 14 tennis.
    I caught the train and walked. There was a mix up and PAC A was there on the lawn courts.
    My opponent’s mum carried his racquet bag with 3 beautiful maxfly raquets to match his dunlop OC volley tennis shoes and the smoothest shiniest shorts I had ever seen. My oliver blue bird with nylon strings, t shirt, footie shorts and toothpaste whitened thin canvas sandshoes combined with my skill was no match and he flogged me 9/2.
    The other connection is an Aboriginal man, Rueben Cooper was captain of PAC football team and I taught some of his grandchildren

  17. Canguro

    Good yarn, wam. PAC was full of born to rule types; a mate of mine was a great-grandson of a former premier and supreme court judge, others – the Chappell tribe (I sat next to Greg in art class), the son of the Adelaide scrap metal kings (they gave him an MG convertible for passing Third Year), sons of some of the most prominent pastoral families, same with top doctors and business people. Definitely an elitist environment. I hated it, every damn minute. Getting bashed for 30 minutes within my first weeks of being a boarder by a sadistic housemaster for being up after lights out and involved in a pillow fight with another dormitory didn’t help with my sense of being able to fit in. And caned a few times, that didn’t help either… possession of firecrackers, damaging the main oval wicket after it had been watered by running across it… the martial application of punishment to an already traumatised child just deepened the sense that adults were innately tyrannical beings.

    I didn’t play sport at all, except for PE classes which were unavoidable. I broke my arm high-jumping, and the matron refused to believe me for two days… it was Dickensian.

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