Elizabeth II smiles during a visit to the Smith Centre, a new part
of the Science Museum in London, which she officially opened in
London. Senior British royals face questions over their financial
affairs after an influential parliamentary committee asked the
government why their estates benefit from major tax
Senior British royals face questions over their financial affairs after
an influential parliamentary committee asked the government why their
estates benefit from major tax
The Duchy of Lancaster, in
north-west England, is said to be worth 310 million pounds (462 million
euros, 580 million dollars) and provides income for Queen Elizabeth II.
The Duchy of
Cornwall, in south-west England, is the main source of
income for her son and heir to the throne Prince Charles, and earnt him
nearly 12 million pounds in 2004.
Both estates act as effective property companies but do not pay
corporation or capital gains
Now lawmaker Edward Leigh, from the main opposition -- and
traditionally pro-monarchy -- Conservatives and chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has written to
the finance ministry to question this.
Last year, the committee probed why the money Charles earned from the
Duchy of Cornwall had jumped 300 percent in the last decade.
It also issued a report asking The Treasury to justify both estates'
"favourable" tax position.
The Treasury replied and now the committee is calling for a "fuller
explanation", with Leigh asking whether "there is anything about the
status" of the duchies which puts them outside the tax regimes.
Both the queen and Charles pay income tax on money which they receive
from the duchies.
A spokeswoman for Charles's household, Clarence House, said that the
Duchy of Cornwall's accounts were already subject to "rigorous scrutiny"
by the Treasury and an independent auditor.
She said he did not pay corporation tax because he already paid
income tax and was not
entitled to any capital gains.
The queen announced in 1992 that she would begin paying income tax, the
same 12 months she described as an "annus horribilis" after a devastating
fire at her Windsor Castle home west of London and the breakdown of three
of her children's