What Is the Crown Estate?

What Is the Crown Estate?

Answer

The Crown Estate is, as the term suggests, an estate (land, property, investments) owned by the Crown. Its origins in the eleventh century can be traced to William the Conqueror and since that time, as one might imagine, there have been many changes in its size, wealth and income potential. In its current form (strictly controlled by statute) the Estate is worth approximately £8 billion and produces a revenue which varies from year to year but at the time of writing is somewhere around £240 million. Currently the monarchy receives 15% of this annual profit (always in arrears) and the remainder is given to HM Treasury. This money pays for the major expenses of the monarchy.

Under the term ‘major expenses’ comes Royal Household salaries, travel, maintenance of the official residences and the Chapels Royal, entertainment, utilities such as electricity, maintenance of parts of the Historic Royal Palaces, supplies, financing the Royal Mews etc.

Although the Crown Estate (CE) is owned by the Crown it is not, these days, the monarch’s personal estate. It has been integral to the financing of the Crown since it was first formed in the eleventh century and although it has varied in size and value over the years it has been the financial backbone of the monarchy ever since its inception. 85% of the revenue of the Estate is given to the government which at the time of writing stands at over £200 million.

The CE is run by a body appointed by the Queen and collectively called the Crown Estate Commissioners. They are independent of government but are accountable to parliament as well as the Crown. The CE is run under strict guidelines and is commercially responsible i.e. it is expected to ‘enhance its value and the return obtained from it, but with due regard to the requirements of good management’. (Crown Estate Act 1961, S. 1(3)

Whereas before 2012 the monarch received a grant (Civil List) from the government for expenses and when this grant was, after years of stagnation, increased there were cries from some that this was ‘taxpayers’ money’. In fact, even then, it was incorrect as the CE’s revenues were given completely to the government. Since the Sovereign Grant Act 2011 there can now be no question of any misunderstanding in respect to the financing of the monarchy: the monarchy funds itself from its own historic resources and what is more gives 85% of the profits of the resources of the CE to the government. It is quite wrong and entirely misleading for critics to keep repeating the lie of direct taxpayer funding.

Read more: http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk

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