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Buckingham Palace

This article appeared in the December 2001 issue of Sovereignty. We are grateful to the Constitutional Monarchy Association for providing the following information. Membership £20 payable to The Monarchist League, PO Box 5307, Bishop's Stortford, CM23 3DZ.

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The Queen and her Household has four sources of funding - the Civil List, Grant-in-Aid, the Privy Purse and private income.

The first two, which cover official expenditure, are not taxed, the Privy Purse is fully taxable subject to a deduction for official expenditure, and the Queen pays tax on her personal income and capital gains.

The Civil List is the sum provided by Parliament to meet the official expenses of the Queen as Head of State. About 70% of Civil List expenditure goes to pay the salaries of staff working directly for the Queen. Their duties include dealing with State papers, and organising the Queen's public engagements, meetings, receptions and official entertainment, including Royal Garden Parties. In other words, the whole range of activities expected of a Head of State, whether president or monarch.

The Civil List as it currently exists was created on the accession of King George III in 1760, when it was decided that the cost of government should be provided by Parliament. In return, and in a move described by John Brooke in his biography of the King as "from the point of view of the Crown ... the most disastrous step that could have been taken", he surrendered the hereditary royal revenue. This included income from the customs and post office and the net surplus of the Crown Estate. The £132.9 million profit of the Crown Estate for year ending March 31st 2000 was paid to the Exchequer for the benefit of taxpayers. This sum far exceeds the total cost of the monarchy. The Queen's Civil List has been fixed at £7.9 million per annum until 2011. Full details of Royal Household expenditure are published.

The Queen Mother and Prince Philip are the only other members of the Royal Family to receive annuities from the Civil List, of £643,000 and £359,000 respectively. The annuities of other members of the Royal Family who carry out engagements on Her Majesty's behalf are provided by the Queen from the Privy Purse. The revenue for this is obtained from the Duchy of Lancaster, an independent possession of the Sovereign since 1399. It is not included in the National Asset Register of Government holdings published by HM Treasury. The Prince of Wales derives his income, on which he pays tax, from the Duchy of Cornwall.

The Occupied Royal Palaces, principally Buckingham Palace, St.James's Palace, Clarence House, parts of Kensington Palace and Windsor Castle are funded by Grants-in-Aid. Obviously, they would be maintained by the State whether Britain were a monarchy or not.

The Unoccupied Palaces, such as the Tower of London and Hampton Court, are maintained from visitor admissions.

Royal transport, required to enable the Royal Family to carry out almost 3000 engagements a year, is also funded by Grant-in-Aid. Of course, official travel would also have to be paid for, if Britain were a republic.

Privately, the Queen owns Balmoral and Sandringham and some smaller properties. Estimates of the Queen's wealth have often been wildly exaggerated, as they mistakenly include items which are held by the Queen as Sovereign on behalf of the nation and are not her private property. These include the Royal Palaces, Art Collection, Crown Jewels and so on. Far from being Britain's wealthiest person, the Queen is 105th on The Sunday Times 2001 Rich List.

The annual cost of the monarchy is approximately £37 million. For details see

In republics not only do presidents have to be supported financially, as do former presidents and widows, but their official duties have to be paid for, and official and historic residences maintained.

And there is the added expense of periodic elections. Republics show great reluctance in publishing the cost of their heads of state, but the cost of the British monarchy compares extremely favourably.

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