Questions about the royal family...

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Dave Poehlman, Jan 15, 2004.

  1. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    I watched a tabloid-ish tv show about princes Harry and William the other night. The whole premise of the show was what an opulent lifestyle they lead and how much they stand to inherit. (castles, planes, real estate, an amazing art collection.. etc..)

    I'm curious.. where does the royal family's money come from? Is it from taxes?
     
  2. andrew markworthy

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    No, or at least not directly these days. Okay, here's the history lesson ...

    Basically, the monarchy used to get its money from taxes. The idea was it spent some on itself but the majority went on things for the country (churches, schools, wars, that sort of thing). Over the centuries, the monarchy's power was curtailed, and in the late 17th century, the monarchy was placed in a position where it reigned rather than governed (problems with the Stuart dynasty woke people up to the fact that having a family that liked marrying cousins running things was probably not a good idea).

    From then on, the monarchy's money has come from three basic sources:

    (a) income from possessions (the RF owns *huge* chunks of prime real estate) through rents, sale of agricultural produce, etc

    (b) interest on the accumulated wealth of more than a thousand years

    (c) an annual allowance from Parliament for the monarch and members of the immediate family, which of course is ultimately derived from taxes (it's rumoured this is going to be stopped in a couple of years' time at the RF's request)

    It's worth noting that a lot of the money that comes in to the monarchy goes out again in wages for workers for the workers in the royal household, upkeep of the royal residences, etc. Also, many of the royal possessions (e.g. art works - the Queen has the best collection of Leonardo da Vinci drawings in the world, plus a huge number of important works by Titian, etc) are held in trust for the state - they cannot sell them, only loook after them. However, even allowing for these points, the Brit monarchy is enormously wealthy.
     
  3. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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    Isn't the allowance from the governemnt intended for use on "official duties" such as the Queen entertaining a visiting Head of State, the costs involved when she opens some new building etc.? So none of the tax money goes to directly support the RF's "lavish lifestyle" but rather to their remaining few duties as part of the Government.
     
  4. andrew markworthy

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    The monarch isn't paid to do official duties. Rather, the money goes towards upkeep of the royal household (i.e. the assorted servants, etc).

    Of course, the security bill of police escorts, checking the site of every visit for terrorist devices, etc, is footed by the taxpayer as well.

    Plus on top of that is the cost to local authorities, etc, every time there's a royal visit to open a factory/school, launch a ship, etc. Everywhere the royal visitor is likely to look is tidied up, repainted, renovated, etc.
     
  5. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Is there some form of royal escheat in the UK? As an example, I recall reading that the royal family got Buckingham palace after the Duke of Buckingham went bankrupt due to gambling debts.
     
  6. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Pity you missed last Saturday's x-file link, the extra-terrestrial origin was explained right here [​IMG]

    I feel like Winston Smith [​IMG]
     
  7. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    All that money! Ahhh....

    Nobody really knows how much the Queen is worth as she doesn't have to publish or share her books with anyone. While she does pay income taxes, it is only on part of her income, namely, that income received from the Civil List (the money given to the Queen for royal duties) and those received from the Duchy of Lancaster (from which she derives baronial rights). Any OTHER income is not taxed. The Queen does not have to have anything licensed, nor does she require a passport or any other ID nor does she pay government fees. It is HER government, not that of the people (which is why everyone else are "subjects"). When she dies her estate will not be subject to death/estate taxes.

    The Prince of Wales has a duchy too. He owns Cornwall. As he earns a nice chunk of change from it he doesn't get any money from the Civil List. In 2001 the Duchy earned the Prince (who is also the 24th Duke of Cornwall) £7,827,000 (net). The prince voluntarily gives 25% of this to the government as a contribution. He pays no other income taxes (capital gains, interest, etc.).

    The money from the Civil List (in 2001 it was £8,153,000) seems like an awful lot but it really isn't. The Queen has to maintain the servants at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Holyrood, Windsor Palace (the largest residence in the world), and five or six OTHER palaces/houses from that income and pay a portion of it to maintaining the other family members who partake in public life. That doesn't go very far for people who need to travel and live in high-style or risk making the country look impoverished. To provide for all the security, travel expenses (including the Royal Flight), assistance with maintenance costs, etc., Parliament paid out another £35,000,000. in 2002.

    The Royal family was down on its luck and made a tremendous goof back in the good old days of George III (1760) and surrendered the Crown Estates (lands in London owned by the crown) to Parliament in exchange for an annual income, namely, the Civil List. Remember that £8,153,000 that the Queen received in 2001? Well, the Crown Estates raked in £170,500,000 in 2003; mostly because the land it owns is a huge chunk of London. The Royals have recently presented to Parliament a proposal to return the lands in exchange for ending the Civil List entirely. Parliament, as you might imagine, hasn't accepted the deal.

    The other chunk of London is owned by the Duke of Westminister and he always tops or is near the top of the list of wealthiest people in the UK.

    The the Queen owns several vast palaces and castles, the world's finest private art collection, and countless priceless jewels and antiques. Yet while she owns these things, she holds them in trust for the crown. Crown property stays with the crown and it usually takes permission from the government to dispose of any of it. She just happens to be the person who owns the crown at the time. Instantly upon her death the crown passes to her heir.

    In all, estimates of the Queen's personal have ranged from a laughable £20,000,000. to an equally laughable £1,000,000,000,000. The estimates that most royal-watchers/former hangers-on/etc. have decided upon are in the £2,000,000,000.-£20,000,000,000. range.

    A very interesting look at royal finances can be found here.

    The great paradox is that while many people begrudge the Queen the Civil List, they love to have her being queenly. Can't very well have the Queen showing up to greet dignitaries, snip ribbons, and open parliament in a house coat and curlers. All that pomp and circumstance costs money.
     
  8. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    George III bought it from the bankrupt Duke of Buckingham in 1761. He ensconced his wife, Charlotte, there and did some additions. George IV made some further additions but didn't live there. The first monarch to reside at Buckingham Palace was Queen Victoria.

    It was probably not a good idea. By all accounts the building is terribly cold and drafty and rather stark. Imagine people running around Xanadu only with British accents. That's Buckingham Palace. The plumbing is questionable where and when it works, it's noisy, the electricity is possessed, and its principle heating system uses dreadfully inefficient boilers designed for ocean liners yet the building is never warm. George VI pronounced it, "an icebox". Upon her father's accession Princess Margaret lamented, "Now we'll have to live behind railings!" The present monarch and her husband tried hard to convince the government that Clarence House (a relatively modern and comfortable pile down the street) should be the "living" residence while the palace could be the "official" residence. No go. To the palace they went.
     
  9. andrew markworthy

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    Yes, and the number of unopened crates in the basement ...

    Actually, it isn't a particularly thrilling example of architecture. My wife went there to meet the Duke of Edinburgh (i.e. the Queen's hubby) and said it wasn't all that special. [My wife had won a girl guide award sponsored by the D of E when she was a teenager, before you get an inflated idea of our family connections].
     
  10. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Somehow I first took this as a reference to Olivia Newton John, rather than Citizen Kane, and imagined the Queen on rollerskates.....:b
     
  11. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Dennis, that would be PRESIDENT GAS, "on everything but roller skates"

    I always figured the group shoulda been known as PSYCHIC FURS, for predicting Bill Clinton [​IMG]
     

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