Funeral of Elizabeth II: how much is it costing the English?

The cost of the Queen’s funeral is not the subject of an official press release, so it is difficult to know how much it is. But numbers are circulating, some talk about 35 or even 40 million euros. The security alone amounts to 10 million euros.

This is the first state funeral the country has known since the death of Winston Churchill in 1965, so the event should mark the spirits. The funeral of Diana in 1997 had cost almost 4 million euros, and the funeral of the Queen Mother in 2002 almost 6 million euros. Well below the forecasts for the funeral of Elizabeth II.

In addition to the direct costs generated by the ceremony, security, technical means, etc. we also need to take into account the economic costs associated with the days off work given to the British after the death of their monarch, as well as the costs of reprinting the currency, change of stamps and passports. An addition that is likely to rise rapidly as Britons experience high inflation and an energy price crisis. Thus, the closure of the stock market and many companies in a fragile period may reduce the GDP for the month of September by 0.2%, according to an expert quoted by The world.

Funding from the royal family through various channels

The question of the cost of the Queen’s funeral raises the more general question of the funding of the British royal family. Although head of state and nation, the Queen or King of England should not participate in the country’s political activities.

The main source of income for the British royal family comes from what is called the Sovereign Grant. It is part of the “Crown Estate”, the income from the property and assets of the monarchy, managed independently. The royal family repays the “Crown Estate” to the government every year, and in return the latter royal family pays the “Sovereign Grant”. Normally this is 15% of the “Crown Estate”, but since 2017 it has increased to 25%, to finance the renovation of Buckingham Palace. For the period 2021-2022, according to the economic report published by the royal family, the “Sovereign Grant” amounted to 86.3 million pounds, or 1.29 pounds per capita in the United Kingdom.

In addition to the “Sovereign Grant”, the Queen has the “Privy Purse”, which constitutes her private funds. They come from income from the Duchy of Lancaster and are subject to income tax. In total, the Queen of England has an inheritance of 28 billion dollars.

In addition, the royal house’s security costs are financed by taxpayers, without the amount being made public.

A desire for transparency

The current system of financing the British royal house is the result of the reform of 2012. It happens after strong criticism accusing the financing of the “Royals” of being too opaque, too complicated. Since then, the royal family has tried to work for more transparency. It publishes a financial report every year showing royalty income and expenditure, which can be consulted online and is open to everyone.

A reputation tarnished by accusations of tax evasion

However, the controversy surrounding the wealth of the British royal family was revived in 2017, when Elizabeth II was directly implicated in the Panama Papers affair. This investigation, conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, revealed a list of companies and individuals who resort to tax evasion in tax havens. The Queen of England was thus accused of having invested more than 10 million pounds sterling of her personal fortune in offshore companies located in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, two tax havens. On top of that, one of these firms was accused of dishonesty and bad practices. The Queen’s fund manager defended himself against these charges at the time, explaining that these investments were not illegal and that they represented only 0.3% of the value of the “Privacy Purse”. However, this affair had greatly shocked English public opinion, to whom the Queen was a character beyond suspicion.

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