20:25 GMT21 September 2020
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    The issue of taxpayer support for the UK royal family has been debated for a long time, culminating in 1992 when Windsor Castle caught fire. At the time most people surveyed suggested that taxpayers not pay for restoration work.

    Queen Elizabeth II and her son and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, received a warning from an unaffiliated politcal action group over "millions of pounds" spent to maintain the monarchy in the nation. The warning came from Graham Smith, CEO of 'Republic', a British political lobbying firm that campaigns for the abolition of the monarchy in the United Kingdom. Smith says it is difficult to say for certain how much money the royals spend, because not all their finances are disclosed, but claimed that the biggest spenders are Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. The activist criticized the Prince of Wales for excessive spending on luxury travel around the world.

    "What I would say is that Prince Charles takes £20million ($25.5 million) at least every year from the Duchy of Cornwall which is money that should be going to the treasury so that is a huge chunk of the overall cost of the monarchy. On top of that he also has various things paid for him by the government directly, certain areas of travel for example and obviously security. So, he is probably one of the most expensive members of the royal family", Smith stated to the Daily Express.

    Smith claims that there is a competition between members of the royal family on "who can spend the most". Queen Elizabeth II, Smith says, is undoubtedly the biggest spender.

    "Certainly, someone like Prince Andrew has also shown himself to be quite causal with publicly-funded travel, with helicopter flights and private jets and so on. It is very hard to pinpoint one over the other, but we know that the Queen and Charles take millions of pounds from the two Duchies. Obviously the Queen spends an awful lot because she is the head of state and the head of the firm so she is responsible for most of that £345 million ($441 million) a year", Smith told the Daily Express.

    Smith and his lobbying company want to transform the United Kingdom from a constitutional monarchy into a republic with an elected head of state. Instead of a queen, the organization wants to choose a person that will represent the nation independently of UK politicians.

    Debate on royal spending reemerged this year after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced on 8 January that they would step down from senior roles in the royal family and become financially independent. Particular focus was placed on the more than $3 million that was paid by British taxpayers for the renovation of their residence. The couple have stated that they will pay back the figure, while reports indicate that the Sussexes do not intend to permanently return to Britain and live in a royal residence.

    How Much Are the Royals Worth and How Do They Make Its Money?

    It is difficult to determine with accuracy the precise amount of assets owned and managed by the UK royals. According to royal biographers, their wealth is estimated in the millions, not billions. The Queen’s personal fortune is reported to be some 360 million pounds ($470 million).

    The primary source of income for Queen Elizabeth II is investments, personal property inherited from her father, the Duchy of Lancaster and the Sovereign Grant.

    The Duchy of Lancaster, an ancestral estate dating back to the 12th century, is a portfolio property. It has almost 45,000 acres of commercial, agricultural and residential properties in England and Wales owned on behalf of the Queen. Money made from these properties goes directly to maintaining her lifestyle.

    The Sovereign Grant is funded by British taxpayers, and does not go directly into the pockets of the royals, but instead is used pay for travel inside the United Kingdom and overseas, salaries for employees of the royal household and covers the cost of maintenance of royal residencies.

    Prince Charles, wife Camilla and his sons from his first marriage with Princess Diana, receive money from the Sovereign Grant and the Duchy of Cornwall in a private estate established in 1337 to provide income to the heir to the throne. The Duchy of Cornwall has lands in urban areas, a collection of islands and rental cottages. 

    According to Vox, in 2019, both the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster grossed over $25 million.

    Tags:
    United Kingdom, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, UK royal family
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