The Queen: a fine investment?
'The Queen could make a lot more money...'
Oliver Hansen | 13 June 2016

Every so often, when the Palace publishes spending reviews, the topic of the Queen’s finances flares up again. On the one hand, monarchists argue, the Queen represents value for money, while republicans will tend to point out instances of colossal wasted spending. But how much is the Queen actually worth for the UK? And is she worth it?

Unfortunately, the figures often quoted tend to have some confirmation bias - you find what you look for, after all. The figure officially issued by the Palace and most widely used sets the cost at £35.7 million, a cost of 56p to every British household. However, the pressure group Republic, which advocates the abolishment of the monarchy, believes that this figure is inaccurate and the true cost is closer to £334m. They argue that security costs are not transparent and are paid separately by the Metropolitan Police, and that Royal visits are instead paid for by local councils rather than the Palace.

But how does the monarchy contribute? In 1760, George III, when he was almost bankrupt, agreed to give over all of his holdings’ revenues to Parliament, in exchange for forgiveness of his debt and an annual stipend. This stipend was recently refined under the terms of the Crown Estate Act 2011, whereby the monarch would receive 15% of the revenues of the Crown Estate. Since the Estate made £285.1m last year, the Queen will receive roughly £43m. Considering the fact that these are lands the Queen still owns and are essentially held in trust for her, with the majority of revenues going to the Government, the Queen reduces the average tax bill for a household in the UK by £3.80 a year. That’s a good deal, considering the Queen could make a lot more money if she did not share the revenues with the Treasury.

And of course, that’s not even considering the issue of tourism. In terms of measurable statistics, the Queen raises roughly £10m from ticket sales to royal attractions, such as Buckingham palace, every year. There is also the argument that the ‘brand value’ of the Queen, attracting people to the UK, is worth even more. But since it is not measurable, we will not count that.

So what does that give us in total? Well, assuming we use the Palace’s official figures, the Queen earns £43m a year from her estates, which are held in trust, with the Government benefiting from earning an additional £242m. So funnily enough, the Queen pays the highest income tax of us all - 85%! Add to that the benefits earned from tourism, another £9.3m, and the Queen earns the government over £251m more than the government would otherwise earn. A fine investment? It seems so to me.

 

Original Image by Oliver Hansen

James Routledge 2016