The estimated total annual cost of the monarchy is £334m, around eight times the official figure published by the royal household
The monarchy is expensive, very expensive. Of course it wouldn't matter if it were free - the cost to our democracy would still be too high - but when the palace tells you it's "value-for-money", don't believe them. We could get much better for far less.
The huge waste and extravagance of the monarchy is a symptom of the main problem: the palace is totally unaccountable and is able to operate with a far greater degree of secrecy than any other part of the state. It also clearly has considerably lobbying clout within government, which explains why the government hasn't cracked down on royal spending.
How is the monarchy funded?
The monarchy has never been funded like other public bodies, which are usually set an annual budget based on what they actually need to spend.
Until 2013, the costs of the monarchy – that's the Queen in her role as head of state and the other working royals – were funded by a civil list payment and a number of separate grants covering travel, property maintenance, communications and other expenses.
All these costs have now been rolled into one single annual payment called the “Sovereign Grant”. This has been set at 15% of surplus revenue from the crown estate - a publicly-owned property portfolio - resulting in a payment of £36.1m for 2013/2014, rising 29% to £40m this year.
However, the Sovereign Grant is just one part of the total cost of the monarchy. The royal family's security bill is picked up by the metropolitan police, for example, while the costs of royal visits are borne by local councils.
Meanwhile, income from the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall – despite belonging to the nation - goes directly to the Queen and Prince Charles respectively, depriving the treasury of tens of millions of pounds every year.
When all this hidden expenditure is included, the real cost of the monarchy to British taxpayers is likely to be around £334m annually.
Royal finances reform charter
Republic's royal finances reform charter proposes the following simple reforms, to improve accountability, transparency and fairness in royal finances and to appropriately assign public funds to the Treasury.
- Parliament to set an annual fixed budget for the monarchy - including an annual salary for the Queen - to be managed and reported on by a government department, not Buckingham Palace.
- All security costs to be made transparent and accountable.
- All costs of royal visits around the country to be incorporated into the monarchy's budget, not met by local authorities.
- The institution of the monarchy, and all members of the royal household, to be required to abide by the same tax laws and rules as all other public bodies and private individuals.
- The Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall to be fully investigated by parliament with a view to transferring them into public ownership, with all revenue going to the Treasury.
- The Crown Estate to be renamed 'the National Estate' and its status clarified through amendment of the Crown Estate Act.