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Royal Family cost taxpayers '10 times more than public realised', unearthed documents claim

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: A general view of Buckingham Palace on June 18, 2020 in London, England. L'Appel du 18 Juin (The Appeal of 18 June) was the speech made by Charles de Gaulle to the French in 1940 and broadcast in London by the BBC. It called for the Free French Forces to fight against German occupation. The appeal is often considered to be the origin of the French Resistance in World War II. President Macron is the first foreign dignitary to visit the UK since the Coronavirus Lockdown began. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Buckingham Palace and the Treasury didn't want the full details released. (Getty Images)

Buckingham Palace and the Treasury hid the true cost of the monarchy from the public, according to the author of a new book about the Queen’s wealth.

David McClure uncovered papers from 1989 during his research for The Queen’s True Wealth, and claims they show a change to the funding of the monarchy suggested at the time by Prince Charles would have revealed they were costing the taxpayer 10 times the figure the public was actually told.

His revelation came as the Crown Estate released its annual report, from which the Sovereign Grant, the taxpayer fund for the monarchy, is devised.

McClure said that in 1989, toward the end of Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as prime minister, a change was suggested to the funding system, which at that time was the civil list.

Prince Charles proposed that the entire profits from the Crown Estate be used to fund the monarchy, including security.

But the Treasury report, indicating some of the debate between both sides about the plan, shows Charles’s method would have revealed the monarchy was costing about 10 times the figure that had been presented to the public beforehand.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 17:  Charles, Prince of Wales, in white uniform during his official tour of the Gulf States on March 17, 1989 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)
Charles, here in Dubai in 1989, made the suggestion to fund the monarchy via all the profits of the Crown Estate. (Getty Images)

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A draft report quoted by the Daily Express and confirmed to Yahoo UK by McClure said: “Although the overall budget will in fact represent no more than the cost that would in any event arise in supporting head of state expenditure on the basis proposed, there will be an immediate contrast available between the £60 million plus to be met annually against the £6.5 million of the present Civil List.”

The public had been told the Civil List was £6.5m, but using all the Crown Estate would have shown the public the monarchy could cost £60m.

McClure told Yahoo UK: “They were saying if this comes out it would be a disadvantage of the system.

“You could say that the Treasury and the palace did know in 1989 the total real cost of the Royal Family and they did not want it to come out.”

He added: “The 1989 papers do indicate that the public was misled, by (the) Treasury or the palace, about the overall real cost of the monarchy.”

McClure said he is “not a republican who wants to bring down the monarchy”, but added: “I want to be treated like a grown-up”.

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - JULY 17: Queen Elizabeth II talks Captain Sir Thomas Moore and his family after awarding him with the insignia of Knight Bachelor at Windsor Castle on July 17, 2020 in Windsor, England. British World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore raised over £32 million for the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
The Queen is funded by the Sovereign Grant, worked out from the income of the Crown Estate. (Getty Images)

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He said the British public could make a more informed decision about whether the monarchy is worth the annual bill if people were aware the Sovereign Grant is not the true total.

He added: “I would have no problem if they said ‘the official cost is £80m, but when we add security it is more’.

“Then the public could say, ‘well it costs three times more’, they might say it is worth it, on balance, it’s more interesting than a boring president.”

On Friday it was revealed that the Crown Estate had lost more than £552.5m ($717m) in property value amid a shortfall in rents from stores.

In annual results published on Friday, the company revealed that it had downgraded the value of its portfolio to £13.4bn, a fall of 1.2%.

The profits go to the Treasury, which passes on 25% to the monarch in the Sovereign Grant, on a two-year time lag.

Yahoo UK contacted the Treasury and Buckingham Palace and both declined to comment.