The British Monarchists Society defends The Crown in a number of ways, but most importantly through education and combating the pressure group Republic. Republic sets out to campaign for the active abolition of The Crown in the United Kingdom. Below we take Republic head on by countering each argument they propose through proper education and intelligent defence of our Crown.The pressure group Republic campaigns for the abolition of the British Monarchy. In doing so, they actively work alongside their Patrons, membership and supporters to outline and “educate” as to the parts of the Monarchy which they feel are unfair, unbalanced and fiscally distorted. With unsupported and unverified blanket statements, Republic feel that they are best placed to “report” on the Monarchy and its unfair mis-representation of the British state. It is clear that this pressure group does not fully understand, or wish to understand through facts, the basis of, need for, composition of, or the financial contribution from The Monarchy toward the greater good of the British public. We here at the British Monarchists Society have taken Republic head on to dispel their republican rhetoric and bring attention to the true facts that they do not accept or want you to know. Below you will find the main points of issue which Republic highlight on their website:
Republic: The Monarchy has an estimated total annual cost of £345m. They further state, “The monarchy is expensive, very expensive. Of course, it wouldn’t matter if it were free – the cost to our democracy would still be too high – but when the palace tells you it’s “value-for-money”, don’t believe them. We could get much better for far less.”
FACT: The above statements are just that, statements tinged with the constant line that the Monarchy is undemocratic. Republic are infamous for their one size-fits-all blanket statements without any explanation to support their claim. The Monarchy exists within the United Kingdom because the people allow it to. In the past, such as in 1649, when it was decided a monarchy was no longer the way, it was abolished. Today, if the people collectively decided that the monarchy was not of value to the nation in terms of national identity, national unity etc, then of course steps would be taken to address such an issue. However, until that time, the people of the United Kingdom are happy with their Monarchy and thus allow it to function and exist.
The true cost of the Monarchy (less security costs) is factually reported and supported through the fully transparent release of the Royal financial statement issued by the Palace. We must always remember that the Monarchy is not funded through the tax-generating efforts of the government, therefore British tax-payers do not foot the bill for any non-security related costs of the Monarchy. Official expenditure of the Monarchy met by the Sovereign Grant in 2017-18 amounted to £47.4m. The excess of the Sovereign Grant and other income over expenditure of £28.7m was transferred to the Sovereign Grant Reserve. This includes £26.3m to meet future commitments for the Reservicing Programme. For a full understanding of Royal expense, revenue generation and surplus funding for the nation, please visit:
Republic fail to support these claims and the source for their figures which would add up to the overall alleged cost they claim, whereas we know through proper accounting, released Royal reports and the way the Palace is funded, that the Monarchy does not cost anywhere near £345m. Certain aspects of the Monarchy, such as costs met by local councils towards a Royal visit, are used by Republic to superficially inflate the cost of the Monarchy. These costs are not incurred by the Monarchy itself as day to day expenses and furthermore, such visits do have a very important and symbolic meaning for the people of specific councils that have extended an invitation to The Crown. Simply put, if the Council did not want a Royal visit, they would not invite a Royal guest. Visits to councils only take place on the invitation of the councils receiving a Royal visit and therefore, as the Royal visit was requested, certain expenses are of course met by council funds – this is not a cost directly levied by The Crown, for The Crown and should certainly not be included in the overall cost of the Monarchy. These costs are external costings and not directly attributed to the working expense of the Monarchy.
Even if we were to accept that the cost of Royal security for the Head of State and her family was around £150m (as republic like to state), then we are still no where near the £345m figure. Every country around the world has security expense for their Head of State. In the case of Queen Elizabeth II, she is the Head of State of sixteen nations in whole and Head of the Commonwealth of 53 nations in total, therefore such security costs are well justified, considering the cost of security to other Western nations such as France, Germany, America and countless others.
Republic: has called on MPs to follow Denmark’s example and cut all minor royals off from public funding, as a step in the right direction. In May 2016 Denmark announced plans to reduce royal funding by cutting out all minor royals. The UK needs to do the same. It is a scandal that the Queen allows her family to profit from their relationship with her, to the tune of millions of pounds. Republic has asked the simple question, why are we spending millions of pounds on Katherine Worsley (the Duchess of Kent) or Marie von Reibnitz (Princess Michael of Kent) when public services are being squeezed and cut? The public are with us on this. A poll carried out in 2015 showed a clear majority want all minor royals to be denied public subsidy.
2016? Why not bring this point back between post 1997 and pre-2012 here in the United Kingdom, and not recently in Denmark? The above statement by Republic is ill informed, to which their understanding and knowledge of the system of how the Monarchy is funded and who directly benefits from funds provided to the Monarchy from the Crown Estate, is in fact skewed. The Royals are not funded by the public full stop. The Duke of Edinburgh is the only other member of the Royal Family (besides The Queen) to directly receive money for official expenditure (his office as spouse of the Head of State) from the Sovereign Support Grant (SSG). It is important to remember that the Sovereign Support Grant (formerly The Civil List) is not paid from funds generated by the tax-generating efforts of the government. These funds are a percentage of the profits made off of the Crown Estate, which is not owned by the public, but by The Crown.
Before changes to the 2012 financial formula as to how the Monarchy was funded, The Civil List included other members of the Royal Family that were given allowances for their work in supporting The Queen. By 2002 there were eight recipients of such annuities, receiving a combined total of £1.5 million per annum. After 1993 and prior to 2012, when the SSG replaced the Civil List, The Queen voluntarily refunded the cost of these annuities to the Treasury. Today, Her Majesty spends over £1,254,000 of her own money to support members of her family carrying out engagements on her behalf. This expense is met from her personal income and not the SSG. So for Republic to state that, “we” pay for the minor royals, and that we need to follow Denmark’s example is not only wrong, but completely uneducated and irrelevant, considering The Queen took it upon herself nearly a decade and half before Denmark did in reducing expenditure for other members of the Royal family. What Republic wishes to happen has already occurred – we did not need Denmark to “do it first” in 2016 to show us how it needed to be done, when Her Majesty dealt with such issues post 1997!
Republic: The huge waste and extravagance of the monarchy is a symptom of the main problem: the palace is totally unaccountable and is able to operate with a far greater degree of secrecy than any other part of the state. It also clearly has considerably lobbying clout within government, which explains why the government hasn’t cracked down on royal spending.
Waste and Extravagance? A problem? Why? Our Head of State is a thousand-years of our national story summed up in one breathing, living person, who is the personification of the glory and power of the State in every aspect. Every nation around the world displays the pomp and pageantry associated with their national “greatness”, whether it be America, France, Canada, Germany or even North Korea. So why should the United Kingdom be any different? If anything, we are the nation to aspire to, for no one does pomp and pageantry as good as or quite like the British. Foreign Heads of Aspire to receive an invitation to Buckingham Palace, a formal recognition that they have in-fact brought their nation into proper recognition upon the world stage.
The Palace is one of the most accountable and transparent bodies within the United Kingdom, although it does not have to be. Though The Queen as Head of State and those around her as future Heads of State are entitled to secrecy and privacy, the Royal Household remains fully transparent in regard to Royal expense etc. Prof Matthijs of Ghent University praised the British Monarchy in 2012 as one of the most open about its finances.
Though The Queen is the Head of State, the Monarchy and her position are not funded by the state, but rather by The Crown. There is no need for the government to crack down on Royal spending because public finds are not used to fund the daily activities of the Monarchy! The government actually receives money from The Queen as proprietor of The Crown Estate, which gives the government an extra £200-plus-million per year to fund departments such as education, NHS or whatever the government deems necessary. THE QUEEN DOES NOT RECEIVE A PAYCHEQUE for her position as Queen or her time as Head of State. This is a woman who does not earn a wage from her position from the people she serves unlike every politician in the Commons and Lords.
Republic: The monarchy has never been funded like other public bodies, which are usually set an annual budget based on what they actually need to spend. Until 2013, the costs of the monarchy – that’s the Queen in her role as head of state and the other working royals – were funded by a civil list payment and a number of separate grants covering travel, property maintenance, communications and other expenses.
The Monarchy is not a public body whose expenses are met by public funds; therefore, an annual budget does not need to be allocated by the Treasury. The Treasury is actually the beneficiary of surplus funding of the Crown Estate after the Sovereign Support Grant is paid. “Separate grants” as referred to by Republic, also include the “Privy Purse” which are payments made from the Queen’s private income to offset official Palace expenditure such as Royal travel etc., not to mention Palace reserves which are put in place to help defray the cost of building maintenance etc. Republic fail to mention these personal and private contributions! Though Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are technically owned by The Crown and not The Queen, it is The Crown Estate that pays for the upkeep of these national landmarks, just as the people pay for the upkeep of The Palace of Westminster where Parliament sits.
All these costs have now been rolled into one single annual payment called the “Sovereign Grant”. This has been set at 25% of surplus revenue from the crown estate – a publicly-owned property portfolio – resulting in a payment of £76.1m for 2017/2018.
Republic would have you believe that the payment of £76.1m noted above would solely be for the direct workings of the Monarchy, however this mount includes the extra money allocated by the Sovereign Support Grant to tackle to refurbishment of Buckingham Palace, which was conveniently left out by Republic. The SSG is set at 15% of the of the revenue of the Crown Estate with an extra 10% added for a total of ten years to offset the cost of refurbishment to The Palace which is set to cost nearly £370m. The Crown is funding the repairs to The Palace directly as seen in this rise of the SSG payment by the extra 10% for ten years, again not from the taxpayer.
Note: The Sovereign Support Grant (SSG) has been spent. The 2016/2017 statement has acknowledged a change to future SSG funding in regard to the newly approved £369M refurbishment of Buckingham Palace over the next 10 years. The approved works at Buckingham Palace will be met by the SSG which is based on the profits of the Crown Estate and not derived from revenue of the tax generating efforts of the government. The 2016/2017 financial year saw the Palace receive £42.8 million – a rise of £3 million over the 2015/2016 fiscal year. This rise in expenditure was based on the rise of funding provided to the Palace due to the Sovereign Support Grant equation (two years in arrears) which was based on 2014/2015 Crown Estate revenues of £304.1 million. The total expense for the year of Her Majesty as Head of State came to £56.8 million, with additional funding generated by letting out properties and rooms for events. Income supplementing the grant amounted to £14.9 million (up from £13.9 million in 2015/16).
However, the Sovereign Grant is just one part of the total cost of the monarchy. The royal family’s security bill is picked up by the metropolitan police, for example, while the costs of royal visits are borne by local councils.
Royal Security and the costs incurred by local councils have already been answered above.
Meanwhile, income from the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall – despite belonging to the nation – goes directly to the Queen and Prince Charles respectively, depriving the treasury of tens of millions of pounds every year.
The Queen herself (as a private individual) receives a personal income from The Duchy of Lancaster, an estate which dates back centuries and is owned by her in her capacity as Sovereign, not the state. While the Duchy does not pay tax, the income receivable by the Privy Purse is taxable, after the deduction of official expenditure – thus The Queen is still paying into the Treasury, and not taking a taxpayer’s penny out of it as many like to think. The Queen has paid tax on this income since 1993. However, it must be made clear that The Queen does not take a salary for her work as Monarch.
The Prince of Wales has The Duchy of Cornwall which he also owns in his own right as Her to The Throne, of which he funds the activities of not only himself but the households of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Taxes are levied and paid accordingly quite like The Queen and the Duchy of Lancaster. Again, both of these Duchies are owned by the Crown with The Queen and The Prince of Wales as proprietors. These lands are not owned by the people or by the state.
When all this hidden expenditure is included, the real cost of the monarchy to British taxpayers is likely to be around £345m annually.
We have still not seen an outline or chart as to how republic would like to breakdown their £345m annual cost of The Monarchy, however let us give them the benefit of doubt and agree on this figure. Considering that the only pubic money spent on The Monarchy is security, then there is plenty left over from the profits of the Sovereign Support Grant to meet all of the other expenditure incurred, which we have outlined is not met by the tax generating efforts of the government, therefore the Crown is funding itself with the exception of security. So, if The Monarchy were to cost £345m less security at £150m, then the remaining balance of the cost of the institution would be £195m (which does not add up according to the accounting and financial reports issued by Buckingham Palace), completely covered by the Crown Estate. What exactly is the problem when The Crown is covering its own functions with its own funds?
Republic’s royal finances reform charter proposes the following simple reforms, to improve accountability, transparency and fairness in royal finances and to appropriately assign public funds to the Treasury:
Parliament to set an annual fixed budget for the monarchy – including an annual salary for the Queen – to be managed and reported on by a government department, not Buckingham Palace.
Why would Parliament set a fixed budget for The Monarchy if The Monarchy is already funding itself through the Crown Estate? Why would Parliament also wish to pay The Queen a salary, when she currently works for free as Head of State? This would be a sizeable increase in expense directly to the Treasury under Republics “Reform Charter”, therefore allowing the people to directly fund The Monarchy through the tax-generating efforts of the government which means public funds through taxation would then directly pay for the Queen and Buckingham Palace. Royal finances are already reported to The Treasury and HMRC as The Queen does pay tax on her income and so does the Palace on payments made by the Privy Purse, the same for The Prince of Wales. Buckingham Palace report on all working expenses related to the Monarchy with the exception of security which is administered by the met police, the same way security and associated expense are administered for the Prime Minister and Parliamentarians.
All security costs to be made transparent and accountable.
Not one nation publicly publishes the cost of, or associated expenses of security spending for Heads of State for very different, albeit very important reasons. No mater what the cost to keep our government safe during the modern age of terror etc, we can never be too careful, therefore security expense is justifiable. We must keep in mind that our Head of State is shared with 15 other nations in addition to the Commonwealth of nations totalling an additional 37 countries for a total of 53 combined.
All costs of royal visits around the country to be incorporated into the monarchy’s budget, not met by local authorities.
Currently Council visits are paid by the taxpayers living within said council, therefore allocating these expenses to The Monarchy directly and not the Councils, will still result in the public paying for royal visits around the nation. No mater how costs are calculated with respect to Royal visits within local councils, the public will still be footing this bill. Maybe Republic should have stated that this cost should be met by the profits of The Crown Estate? This equation would remove funding by the public for Royal visit to Councils all together!
The institution of the monarchy, and all members of the royal household, to be required to abide by the same tax laws and rules as all other public bodies and private individuals.
The Royal Household is subject to the same audit scrutiny as other government expenditure, via the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee. The Queen pays tax. The Prince of Wales pays tax. In 1992, The Queen volunteered to pay income tax and capital gains tax, and since 1993 her personal income has been taxable as for any other taxpayer. The Queen has always been subject to Value Added Tax and pays local rates on a voluntary basis. 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 has a Crown exemption and the Prince of Wales is not legally liable to pay income tax on Duchy revenues.
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.
The Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall to be fully investigated by parliament with a view to transferring them into public ownership, with all revenue going to the Treasury.
Republic already stated that the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall belong to the nation, which would therefore make them already owned by the public. As we stated, the Duchies are not owned by the public and therefore are private lands held by The Crown. Republic have not only contradicted themselves with this statement but are now endorsing a South African style policy of land seizure and redistribution without compensation. Republic endorse the state confiscating private lands with the intent of appropriating any and all profits to the state.
Both the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall are fully held to account through their reports and scrutinised by the government through the department known as HMRC. The government knows the laws, ruled and regulations on income associated with these Duchies and are provided with a full external set of accounting and audits to make sure they are properly reported on – fair and transparent!
The Crown Estate to be renamed ‘the National Estate’ and its status clarified through amendment of the Crown Estate Act.
Again, this is private land seizure without compensation. Republic have shown gross negligence in respect to the composition of the Crown Estate, the function of the portfolio and the ownership/proprietorship of not only the Crown Estate, but the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall. It is quite clear that Republic subscribe to a communist and socialist manifesto by their thoughts and endorsements of land seizure and redistribution for the people, who actually do not pay for the workings of The Monarchy. In fact, the Crown Estate and Her Majesty are net contributors to the Treasury, for without them, a shortfall of nearly £300m would have to be found to replace this loss should they no longer be in the picture as Republic wishes. That’s right! Your taxes would rise to cover this missing income from the governments budget! Think about that.