‘How the Windsors got their £1bn property empire, a right Royal RIP-OFF more in line with Henry VIII than a modern democracy,’

‘The way the Windsors got their millions is a Royal RIP-OFF more in line with Henry VIII than a modern democracy,’ writes author and former government minister NORMAN BAKER


By Norman Baker Former Government Minister

Published: 07:00, 29 April 2023

It is a curious thing that our Royal Family was effectively bankrupt in 1760 when George III came to the throne, so much so that did a deal with Parliament to hand over Crown lands in return for an annual grant known as the Civil List.

Yet today, the Windsors are fabulously wealthy in their own right, with every senior member worth at least 20 million. One recent calculation put King Charles’s wealth at up to 480 million.

You have to ask how such a transformation came to pass.

There was a big hint recently when The Mail on Sunday revealed that the whole of Queen Elizabeth’s estate had been bequeathed to her son, King Charles, without a penny of tax being paid. Uniquely, the monarch does not pay death duties.

The Scilly Isles have been owned by the Duchy of Cornwall since the beginning of the 14th century. Today, all income from the Duchy goes to William, the Prince of Wales

And how much money was involved? Even back in 2001 The MoS calculated that the Queen was worth 1.15 billion, almost certainly an underestimate then, let alone now. Her stamp collection alone was put at 100 million. It is a safe bet to assume that what she bequeathed to Charles will have increased substantially.

At any rate, we can assume that the latest Monarch-to-Monarch transfer of wealth is a considerable loss to the exchequer.

So, just how much money have the Windsors accumulated?

Exact figures are hard to come by and no wonder: the Royal Family likes it that way. At every turn they have used the tax system to their advantage and a culture of secrecy to prevent awkward questions.

The highly unusual way they treat legacies is a good example.

Wills are public documents, as everyone knows. Indeed, they have always been open for inspection in this country as an essential safeguard to prevent theft and malpractice.

But uniquely the royals have secured an exemption meaning that, since 1911, their wills have been hidden from the public.

Royal wills are locked up in a metal safe behind an iron cage in Somerset House. And while over the years the scope of the Freedom of Information Act has been generally been extended, allowing enquiries about a greater range of public bodies, secrecy about the royals has gone in the opposite direction. Uniquely.

After pressure from Charles, the supply of information has dried up to a dribble.

The National Archives are releasing ever more of our historical documents as the years go by, and from earlier and earlier.

The Duchy of Lancaster, including the Whitewell Estate in the Forest of Bowland, is owned by the monarchy. It was passed directly from the late Queen to King Charles with no tax paid

But not royal ones. When I visited Kew, I found there were 3,629 closed files on the Royal Family. Some are closed for 100 years.

Worse, some files, especially those containing embarrassing financial information, are kept in the private royal archives in Windsor where they will disappear into a black hole, perhaps forever.

Where has all the Windsors money come from? The simple answer is that it all originates from the public purse, either directly or indirectly through unique tax breaks, then augmented by investments (again not properly taxed).

Take Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House, for example. Prince Albert had gone to the government, cap in hand, to say the Civil List the public subsidy in place since 1760 – was insufficient to cover royal duties.

But that was not true. When Parliament handed over more money, it was instead used to buy these two private properties, plus Osborne House, a Palladian mansion on the Isle of Wight.

Then there are the fabulously beneficial tax breaks. Unlike everyone else in the country, monarchs are exempt from death duties. So nothing was paid on the estimated 70 million left by the Queen Mother. (And where did that come from? Not winnings on the horses).

And nothing has been paid on the vast legacy, including private property, from the Queen to Charles. The cash-strapped Treasury is being deprived of millions by possibly the richest family in the country. Between 1952 and 1993 the Queen paid no income tax or corporation tax, and no income dividend tax.

In 2001, statisticians from Barclays Capital calculated that the 2m stock investment made by the Queen in 1951 would, 50 years later, be worth 1.4 billion. If tax had been paid, the residual figure would have been less than 300 million almost a billion pounds lost to the public purse from this one source alone.

2012: Royal Gravy Train Kicks In

But it was from 2012 that the royal gravy train really picked up speed. Because this was the year the Sovereign Grant Act came into force, sweeping away the long-established Civil List and replacing it with a generous new source of public funding.

The figures speak for themselves. Between 2001 and 2011, the old Civil List had been set at 7.9 million annually. In the most recent financial year, the Sovereign Grant payout to the Royal Family reached a staggering 86.3 million.

And the annual amount can only ever stay the same or go up. It can never go down. The Sovereign Grant Act overturned a settled way of doing things that had lasted more than 250 years.

In 1760, George III did a deal with the government: he would surrender land across Britain to the nation in return for money from the government to support him and his lifestyle.

As part of the deal the government would take over responsibility for funding the Armed Forces, the secret service, the judiciary and other public functions. Over the years, however, some Royals have looked at the performance of its former land and property, which is today known as the Crown Estates.

They have seen it prosper and have started to regret George III’s arrangement. If only the clock could be turned back

Royal wills are locked up in a metal safe behind an iron cage at Somerset House, London

The Duchy of Cornwall even owns the Oval, a test match venue and home to Surrey

Successive governments of all colours had resisted this suggestion, until former coalition Chancellor George Osborne disastrously agreed to re-establish the connection.

Now, 25 per cent of the profits from the Crown Estates go straight into the royal coffers.

Of course, if Charles really wants to recreate the position before 1760, that would require the monarch once again to personally fund the salaries and pensions of Ministers, judges and civil servants, and the costs of the Armed Forces and secret services, too.

It was to lose that heavy burden that George III agreed to a new arrangement.

But the current agreement concerns only in the beneficial side of that equation the one that that would enrich the Royals, not the one that would entail liabilities.

And what a pay day it was. As the Crown Estates holds the rights to the seabeds around Britain, the explosion in offshore wind, the biggest offshore windpower development in the world, is giving the royals a massive windfall, billions that before 2012 would have gone into the Treasury to help pay for schools, hospitals and defence of the realm.

The royals also benefit from what in effect are royal slush funds: the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall. The only reason they were not handed over to the state in 1760 is because they were basically worthless.

Lancaster was worth less than 20 at the time. Now they are hugely profitable estates, covering large swaths of the country. The Duchy of Cornwall even owns the Oval cricket ground extra cover for Charles to hit the taxpayer for six.

The royals are at pains to say these estates are ‘private’, yet in the past they have been classified as government departments. There is in fact still a minister for the Duchy of Lancaster. And if they are private, how come they are exempt from corporation tax, unlike any other private estate?

When it comes to royal money, secrecy is king.

The Royals are not cheap to run. Besides the ballooning Sovereign Grant, they demand expensive security, even for minor Royals whom most people have barely heard of, costing the taxpayer an estimated further 200 million a year.

Then there are the official properties – way in excess of what is needed to sustain a constitutional monarchy.

The State supports not just Buckingham Palace but also St James’s Palace, Clarence House, Marlborough House Mews, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, Frogmore Cottage and Hampton Court Mews, to name but a few. In total, the taxpayer pays for more than 100 Royal buildings.

NORMAN BAKER: In fairness to Charles, he appears keen to rein in royal expenditure, having ordered non-working Windsors, such as Andrew, to  live more prudently

Meanwhile, the public purse funds the whole sprawling network of 99 Lords Lieutenant (not to mention hundreds more deputies) who act as the King’s personal representatives.

In fairness to Charles, he appears keen to rein in royal expenditure, having ordered non-working Windsors, such as Andrew, to either live more prudently or earn some money of their own.

Yet this is no more than scratching the surface of his rather medieval arrangements in which the State should provide him with copious amounts of public money, free from taxation, with no questions asked.

Its a royal rip-off more in line with the practices of his ancestor Henry VIII than a modern democracy.

Norman Baker is a former minister and MP, and a serving Privy Counsellor. He is author of And What Do You Do? – What The Royal Family Doesnt Want You To Know published by Biteback, 10.99


85% rise in UK homeless tent/doorway deaths since 2019, annual figure reaches 1,300

Charity says stronger policy and investment needed to tackle ‘appalling loss of life’, after 85% rise in deaths since 2019

– Thu 20 Apr 2023

More than 1,300 people in the UK died while homeless last year, according to figures that highlight the stark regional differences within the UK, as cuts to health, mental health and drug and alcohol services took their toll.

Research by the charity Museum of Homelessness shows that the number of homeless people who died in 2022 was 1,313, an 85% increase on the numbers recorded by the study just three years earlier.

The figures include people sleeping rough as well as those placed in emergency accommodation and other insecure settings. Each death was verified by a freedom of information request, coroners’ report, charity or family member.

Matt Turtle, co-founder of the Museum of Homelessness, said: “A toxic cocktail of cuts, criminalisation and crackdowns is making life even harder for the UK’s most vulnerable people. Just tinkering around the edges as the government plans won’t fix the damage of the last 12 years.

“Far stronger policy and investment are needed to deal with the appalling loss of life. With a heavy heart we expect to report more of the same in 2024, but with our colleagues we will continue to do what we can to save lives.”

The research showed that while there was a small year-on-year increase over the past year (2%), the differences between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were significant.

Fatalities in England rose by 22% to 875, and by 27% to 76 in Wales. In Northern Ireland the number of deaths fell by 37% to 205, but are more than double the level seen in 2020 after a large spike last year. Scotland’s 157 deaths were a 15% decrease on the previous year.

The UK-wide figures were an increase on the verified 1,286 deaths in 2021, 976 in 2020, and 710 in 2019.

The annual audit by the Museum of Homelessness found most deaths occurred among people living in emergency housing or hostels, with 83% of deaths taking place when the person was in some form of accommodation. The figures also showed that 85% of those who died were under the age of 65.

Turtle said: “The fact that so many people continue to die in unregulated, taxpayer-funded accommodation run by rogue landlords is a disgrace.”

The charity said that its figures were likely to be an underestimate as not all local authorities had replied to FoI requests, including large councils such as Birmingham, Blackpool, Ealing and Hackney.

Paula Barker, a Labour MP and the shadow homelessness and rough sleeping minister, said: “This government’s track record in tackling all forms of homelessness is abysmal. It’s been clear for a long time that there are deep-rooted problems across supported and temporary accommodation. Each death is a tragedy and these figures are deeply worrying.”

According to the research, the number of deaths has increased in all different categories of homeless accommodation since last year. The largest increases include those in rough sleeper accommodation and temporary accommodation, both marking 10% increases.

Where the cause of the death is recorded, 36% of deaths related to drugs and alcohol and 10% died by suicide.

Jessica Turtle, co-founder of the Museum of Homelessness, said: “The leading cause of death, year on year, is people dying either from overdose or from drug and alcohol use. That’s a way of self-soothing, self-medicating. People who usually have active addictions like that is usually because life is really hard.”

Francesca Albanese, acting director of policy and external affairs at the charity Crisis, said: “Behind each of these statistics is a human being, a life cut short and potential unrealised. The fact that anyone dies while homeless is shameful.

“That many of these deaths are happening while in emergency or supported accommodation is shocking – these are places that should provide some respite and a foothold out of homelessness and yet in many cases the reverse is true. We cannot let this continue.”

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: “We are determined to end rough sleeping for good. That is why we published our £2bn cross-government strategy setting out our plan to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over the next three years.

“This includes £186m to help those with drug and alcohol addiction access recovery services and up to £53m for suitable and stable accommodation.

“Councils have a duty to ensure temporary accommodation is suitable and we are providing them with £654m over two years to help prevent homelessness.”

Tories’ Net Zero plan dedicates more land for biomass crops to feed Drax than new woodland

Governments strategy for tackling climate change includes proposals for thousands more hectares of plants and trees to be grown to burn in power stations

By Daniel Capurro Environment Correspondent https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/net-zero-plan-land-biomass-crops-woodland-2257380

The Governments new climate change plan includes annual targets to plant more crops for burning to make electricity than woodland.
Green experts have warned that the focus on biomass risks distracting from proven technologies and increasing inequality in rural areas.

Planet of the Humans, the full movie by Michael Moore. Taken down by YouTube. The movie is about the lies and hypocrisy of ‘green energy’ and biomass.

The proposals for greater biomass use are part of a major new Government strategy launched last month in an attempt to get the UK on target to hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

As part of the plans, ministers are making a major bet on Beccs, or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.

The technology, which has never been deployed on a major scale, claims to generate negative emissions.

The theory given is that the crops for burning usually fast-growing grass and trees would absorb carbon from the atmosphere while growing, which would then be stored underground in perpetuity once they have been burnt.

The technology also promises to provide electricity at times when less reliable forms of generation such as wind and solar are subdued.
Overall, the energy strategy makes a call to plant an additional 9,600 hectares of perennial energy crops and 8,900 hectares of woodland annually by 2030, increasing to 15,000 extra hectares of energy crops and 10,300 hectares of new woodland a year by 2035.

The Climate Change Committee has said that there is a place for Beccs in the UKs energy mix. However it has warned that the supply of sustainable feedstock is limited and that more of it needs to come from the UK rather than overseas.

Currently, biomass burning sites without carbon capture, such as Drax in North Yorkshire, import their wood from overseas.

Nevertheless, critics have questioned why ministers are placing so much emphasis on an expensive technology that is yet to be shown to work at the necessary scale.

Dr Lydia Collas, a policy analyst at Green Alliance, told i: The Government appears to be gambling heavily on bioenergy crops, even though these provide few environmental benefits beyond carbon. Planting new woodland, by contrast, is cheaper and better for nature and rural communities.

Critics of the biomass plan say finite subsidy money should be used to plant woodlands, which sequester carbon and also boost biodiversity, while energy efforts should focus on cheaper and proven technologies.

We shouldn’t be overcomplicating things. New technology will play an important role in tackling change, but we need to capitalise on the simple yet potentially transformative things already available to us, said Dr Collas.

Analysis by Green Alliance showed that, even if costs fell significantly, it was still cheaper to remove carbon via woodland planting.

As well as potentially distorting the UKs energy market, Green Alliance said that the emphasis on biomass crops risked channelling taxpayer money towards already wealthy farmers and away from poorer ones.

The agricultural land suitable for growing biomass crops tends to be of higher quality than that used for woodlands, which is often upland territory with poor soil, while much of the subsidy money would go to power generators.

The Government was approached for comment.