Is the coronation of King Charles III expected to cost the British people a lot of money? Is our new king going to be taxed on his private income at what rate? Have the Dukes of Gloucester and Kent attended as many engagements in the past five years as “working royals”? Was there a salary paid to them? The Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie reside in royal palaces but do not work there. How much rent do they pay?
Several of these questions have been posed to Buckingham Palace by the Guardian in the past few weeks. Most of the responses consist of “Ask someone else”, “fix it yourself”, or “You have no right to know”. Quite the contrary, we think. It is generally acknowledged that Queen Elizabeth II’s obituaries praise her calm stewardship of the realm or her apparent non-interference in British politics. Her reign has been marked by another hallmark: entrenched secrecy, which has led to a culture where the British people lack the most basic information about the monarchy.
A Monarch’s Or Heir’s Correspondence,
No matter how harmless or seismic, cannot be disclosed. It is prohibited for members of the parliament to criticize the conduct of royal family members, regardless of how disgraceful it may be. According to the palace, anyone with a serious interest in our constitutional monarchy’s history is welcome to visit the royal archives. Researchers can examine them, however, only with the permission of the Windsors, as they are private property.
Royal Family And Its Financial Matters:
Royals are more fiercely opposed to letting the light in on financial matters than anywhere else. Judicial decrees censor even obscure family members’ wills. Despite being born from their public roles, the royals keep their financial secrets closely guarded, insisting they are “private.”
Elizabeth II’s achievements should not be diminished by observing how her obsession with secrecy allowed the most corrosive practices to flourish. The Guardian has uncovered official papers that reveal how the Queen and her advisers have repeatedly violated crown consent procedures in the past three years to secretly alter British laws, including in 1973 when the Queen and her advisers successfully concealed her “embarrassing” private wealth from the public. In Elizabeth II’s household, colored immigrants and foreigners were not appointed to clerical roles until at least 1968, and very likely after. Despite the fact that Buckingham Palace still claims to not discriminate, it complies only voluntarily with non-discrimination laws.
Is this acceptable to the king? Is there anything else that has yet to be revealed about abuses? In addition, our reporting will reveal how difficult it is to obtain answers to even simple inquiries.
Money Allotted For Their Security:
Think for a moment about how much public money goes towards security for the royal family. As a long-time ally of the monarch, the government maintains that revealing even a single totalized figure for the entire family would be an unacceptable threat to their security.
An investigation revealed that royals made more than £1 billion from controversial estates. Neither it nor other developed countries’ heads of state, including the French and US presidents, explain this reasoning in any detail. In fact, the Guardian was forced to instruct lawyers to bring a further appeal at the information tribunal after an FOI request was denied by the Home Office and then the Information Commissioner’s Office on appeal last month. Getting an answer will take months, at best.
Our colleague Rob Evans secured Prince Charles’ “black spider memos,” which showed how he lobbied senior government ministers about everything from badger culling to alternative herbal medicines, under Freedom of Information. It took him 10 years and a trip to the supreme court to secure their release under FOI. An ultimately unsuccessful effort to keep the memos secret ended up costing the government more than £400,000 in legal fees.
Journalists Aren’t The Only Ones Who Face This Problem,
It is difficult for academics, biographers, archivists, activists, curious citizens, and even legislators to get access to basic information. Historical experts on Britain’s intelligence services, Rory Cormac and Richard Aldrich understand the need for official secrecy. In the past few decades, Cormac and Richard have both spent the majority of our careers writing histories of MI5 and MI6. Considering the sensitive nature of intelligence services, we completely understand the need for secrecy. In order to put together something historically rigorous, we spend a lot of time going through archives, piecing together snippets of declassified documents. The secret state is believed to be the intelligence services. However, they are similar to WikiLeaks when compared to the royal family.”
For How Much Money Do The Royals Work?
A 1993 white paper published by the government of John Major laid out a vision for an informed citizenry, including on royal matters. In it, it stated: “Records relating to the royal family will be treated in the same manner as all other records.” It was in a speech to the City of London’s Guildhall the previous year that Elizabeth II acknowledged that “no institution in this world should be immune to the scrutiny of those who give it their loyalty”.
These Commitments Are So Clear That There Is No Wonder There Was Secrecy In The Ensuing Decades,
David Cameron’s coalition government introduced the sovereign grant, a funding settlement, in 2011 as an example. Before the 18th century, the royals were funded by the civil list, which had been in place since the 18th century. Although it had its shortcomings, it provided parliament with a breakdown of how much money each family member would receive. In addition, it provided the British people with regular opportunities to discuss how much money the monarch should receive from taxpayers.
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