Monday, May 5, 2014

"Looks like it will be cold kobe beef and bird's nest soup tomorrow -- without yubari melon or panda's milk."

"But Mumsie!"

Is Britain's royal family closing in on bankruptcy?!?


The British Royal Family is financed mainly by public money, but there are also a number of private sources of income. On April 1, 2012, public funding for the royal family was consolidated into a single "Sovereign Grant". Parliament separately foots the cost of upkeep for royal residences, staffing, travel and state visits, public engagements, and official entertainment. (Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle are privately owned by the Queen, and not kept up by public funds.)

Well, the Public Accounts Committee released a report that shows Queen Elizabeth has been a little excessive: The royal household was given £30 million ($51.4 million) for 2012-2013. But the Queen's household overspent by £2.2 million ($3.8 million), and had to dip into reserves in order to come up with the funds. The Queen's reserve fund now stands at approximately £935,675!

The Sovereign Grant is due to shrink by 14 percent in fiscal 2014-2015. The grant is equal to 15 percent of the income of the Crown Estates, estimated to be about £215 million ($370 million). There is a two-year lag built into the grant, to allow accounts to be audited, all funds to come in, and so on. The Queen is looking at Crown Estate income generated not in 2013 but in 2011. The recession's impact is thus lagging, and reducing the Queen's grant.

Not surprisingly, the recession is harming the Queen's income. The Energy Act of 2004 granted the Crown Estate a portion of revenues developed by wind farms in the UK's Renewable Energy Zone. The thought was that this would double Crown Estate income by 2020, but that isn't happening because oil prices and oil use have both dropped during the Great Recession.

Releasing this information isn't disrespectful -- it's required by law. When there is public funding, there needs to be public accountability.

Accountability has nothing to do with whether this person or that is trusted (or not), liked (or not), or wasteful (or not). It has to do with treating all people in the position alike.

Whether the UK is a constitutional monarchy or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the monarch is head of state. The government supports the head of state, although there is a real question as to whether such support is required if other sources of support for the head of state provide enough income for the head of state's performance of duties, security, and so forth. We're not talking personal income, we're talking Crown income.

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