Buckingham Palace and the Treasury hid the true cost of the monarchy from the public, according to the author of a new book about the Queen’s wealth.
David McClure uncovered papers from 1989 during his research for The Queen’s True Wealth, and claims they show a change to the funding of the monarchy suggested at the time by Prince Charles would have revealed they were costing the taxpayer 10 times the figure the public was actually told.
His revelation came as the Crown Estate released its annual report, from which the Sovereign Grant, the taxpayer fund for the monarchy, is devised.
McClure said that in 1989, toward the end of Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as prime minister, a change was suggested to the funding system, which at that time was the civil list.
Prince Charles proposed that the entire profits from the Crown Estate be used to fund the monarchy, including security.
But the Treasury report, indicating some of the debate between both sides about the plan, shows Charles’s method would have revealed the monarchy was costing about 10 times the figure that had been presented to the public beforehand.
A draft report quoted by the Daily Express and confirmed to Yahoo UK by McClure said: “Although the overall budget will in fact represent no more than the cost that would in any event arise in supporting head of state expenditure on the basis proposed, there will be an immediate contrast available between the £60 million plus to be met annually against the £6.5 million of the present Civil List.”
The public had been told the Civil List was £6.5m, but using all the Crown Estate would have shown the public the monarchy could cost £60m.
McClure told Yahoo UK: “They were saying if this comes out it would be a disadvantage of the system.
“You could say that the Treasury and the palace did know in 1989 the total real cost of the Royal Family and they did not want it to come out.”
He added: “The 1989 papers do indicate that the public was misled, by (the) Treasury or the palace, about the overall real cost of the monarchy.”
McClure said he is “not a republican who wants to bring down the monarchy”, but added: “I want to be treated like a grown-up”.
He said the British public could make a more informed decision about whether the monarchy is worth the annual bill if people were aware the Sovereign Grant is not the true total.
He added: “I would have no problem if they said ‘the official cost is £80m, but when we add security it is more’.
“Then the public could say, ‘well it costs three times more’, they might say it is worth it, on balance, it’s more interesting than a boring president.”
On Friday it was revealed that the Crown Estate had lost more than £552.5m ($717m) in property value amid a shortfall in rents from stores.
In annual results published on Friday, the company revealed that it had downgraded the value of its portfolio to £13.4bn, a fall of 1.2%.
The profits go to the Treasury, which passes on 25% to the monarch in the Sovereign Grant, on a two-year time lag.
Yahoo UK contacted the Treasury and Buckingham Palace and both declined to comment.