Queen Elizabeth II – the definition of service or an expensive bauble?

Longest serving Monarch (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)


In 1952, on February 6th, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor acceded to the throne upon the death of her father George VI. At the time she was at Timbertop, an hotel set on stilts, overlooking a Kenyan watering hole deep in the savannah.

Princess Elizabeth in 1928

Royal succession is determined according to Common and Statute Law, which stipulates that the throne is inherited by the Sovereign’s eldest living, non-Catholic child or, in the case of a childless Sovereign, the nearest collateral line. As such, Queen Elizabeth’s son, Prince Charles, is heir apparent.

The Debate will soon be on again. I suspect that this time it will be conducted with more venom.

The Queen by Andy Warhol/Getty Images

This post is designed to provide the facts of the current situation, rather than the opinions of rights and wrongs

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is in her 91st year and, as well as she may appear, she cannot be expected to go on forever.
The arguments over the Monarchy tend to focus upon individuals rather than the institution. The Crown is the Monarchy; the Monarch/Sovereign is the incumbent, The Queen.

The Queen is not just The Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; she is Head of State of the sixteen Sovereign Nations of The Commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas, and the United Kingdom).

The Queen during WWII. Image: The Imperial War Museum

In addition, ERII is Sovereign over fourteen overseas territories, including Gibraltar, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands and British Virgin Islands. These territories have not chosen independence or have voted to remain British. Most of these territories are internally self-governing, with the UK retaining responsibility for defence and foreign relations.

The Crown also owns Canada which pays about $1.50 per person per year to The Crown Estates/HM Treasury. Canadians do not give any financial support to The Queen.

Image: Jeremy Banford/Flickr/Danny E. Martindale/Getty Images

Who owns The Crown Estate?

The Crown Estate belongs to the Monarch in the ‘Right of The Crown’, for the duration of their reign, as it were ‘in Trust’. It is not the private property of the Monarch – it cannot be sold by the Monarch, nor do revenues from it belong to the Monarch.

The Crown Estate is not owned by the Government; it is an independent corporation established by Statute, The Crown Estate Act of 1961, which states that the Estate should be managed by The Crown Estate Commissioners. The Commissioners report to the Treasury and all surplus funds are paid to the Treasury for the benefit of the UK’s finances.

In 1760, George III reached an agreement with the Government over the estate. The Crown Lands would be managed on behalf of the Government and the surplus revenue would go to the Treasury. In return the King would receive a fixed annual payment – later coined the Civil List.


The Queen Crying at the Field of Remembrance, Westminster Abbey (2002). Photo- Mark Stewart

The Crown Estate

The Crown Estate is valued at about £12billion, with net distributable profits of about £300million (2015/6). Assets are predominantly urban property including the whole of Regent Street and half of St James’s in London and extensive retail holdings in Oxford, Exeter, Nottingham, Newcastle, Harlow and Swansea.
There are also substantial rural and other property holdings, including The Windsor Estates, including Windsor Castle and Ascot Racecourse.

Funding The Monarchy

The Sovereign Grant Act 2011 re-calibrated the funds payable to The Crown to meet the costs of running all facets of the Monarchy. This includes the Civil List (payments to members of the Royal Household), receptions for foreign Heads of State and their representatives, local receptions, local and overseas travel, Household staff.
The scale of payments is set at a percentage of profit achieved by the Crown Estate and is audited by the National Audit Office.

Australian Hockey players selfie 2014


The Queen pays tax in the same way as any other citizen of the UK.

The Cost of The Monarchy

Countries have always paid the cost of State visits when the Queen or her representatives make an official visit; they do the same when other heads of state visit. Australia’s government paid more for Oprah Winfrey’s visit in 2010 than it did for the Queen’s visit in 2011.

Whenever the Queen does her Queenly thing in Canada, for example, she does so on the advice of the Canadian government, not the British government.

The Royal Family learn how to selfie, complete with prince William’s piss-take! Photo- Alison Jackson

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