THOUGHT OF THE DAY | The British royal house and the medieval arrangements that bring them billions in untaxed profits


One investigation by The Guardian, the cost of the British crown is again a hot topic in the context of the imminent coronation of King Charles III and his wife, Camilla, on May 6.

Beyond the televised and romanticized story of the British monarchy, there are centuries of secrets, and not just those related to the relationships within the royal family, but to obscure land and financial arrangements dating back to the Middle Ages.

The Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, both of ambiguous status for centuries, are mentioned in the investigation as holding huge portfolios of land and property. These are the two pearls in the British crown, providing the royal family with exorbitant incomes since the days when the country was divided into medieval fiefdoms. Even now, the royal house does not pay income tax on them.

Generations of parliamentarians contested the arrangement and demanded that the profits from the ducats be paid to the Treasury. Without much success, however. The royal family insist their income from the duchies is “private”. And this while the same royal house receives an annual “sovereign grant” to cover its official costs, money that comes directly from the pockets of British citizens. Its price has risen dramatically in recent times – taxpayers part with £86 million a year for the royal family’s needs. However, the romanticized story of the monarchy has a cost that everyone must pay, regardless of political views.

This is also a form of exploitation. A civilized one, in white gloves. A dubious get rich scheme, standing for hundreds of years. Things seem all the more improbable in an age where the monarchy has a completely different status than in the Middle Ages. On the other hand, people’s thirst for stories with princes and princesses, revealed secrets, shocking confessions, court rivalries and dramatic betrayals is so great that they are ready to pay any price just to keep this series going.


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