Do you remember how the guests at The Patron’s Lunch were charged £150 per person to attend the not-for-profit event which was supposed to raise money for the charities of which the Queen is patron, and how Peter Phillips, the Queen’s grandson, and his company were organizing the event? Well, SEL UK, the company Peter works for, received £750,000 in payment for organizing the event.
SEL UK, which is the London branch of Australian firm Sports and Entertainment Limited and was set up in 2012 by Peter, who is now director, was paid the £750,000 just for organizing the event – the cost of the actual event was funded by donors. Here’s more:
“The £750,000 paid to the Queen’s grandson for organising her 90th birthday street party last year is more than double the sum so far raised for charity by the event. The sum was handed over to SEL UK, the sports management company of which Peter Phillips is a director, for organising last June’s event in The Mall.
“Billed as the centrepiece of the monarch’s birthday celebrations, the not-for-profit event was dogged by controversy from its inception because representatives of the Queen’s charities were charged £150 a head to attend. Critics thought this particularly ironic given that the party – known as the Patron’s Lunch – was designed to celebrate the sovereign’s role as patron of more than 600 charities and organisations.
“Now accounts lodged at Companies House show Mr Phillips, son of Princess Anne, was paid £750,000 for a two-year ‘commercial services contract’ to organise the event. This compares with just £306,000 given to charity as a result of ticket and merchandise sales in the period up to September last year. It has been distributed among 290 charitable organisations for which The Queen acts as a Patron, including the RSPCA and Barnardo’s. […]
“SEL UK is a division of Australian sports management company SEL, set up by Mr Phillips at an address in Buckingham Palace Gate in 2012. Its website boasts only three clients, including the Patron’s Lunch and the Gatcombe Festival of British Eventing — which takes place annually on Princess Anne’s Gloucestershire estate – plus the Longines Global Champions Tour. According to the company’s latest publicly available figures (which also reveal Mr Phillips’ wife Autumn as company secretary), there was just £7,730 in the firm’s accounts as of June 2015.
“SEL UK and Mr Phillips did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. But Sir Stuart Etherington, chairman of the Patron’s Fund, the charity which benefited from the lunch and distributed its profits to good causes, described the fee as ‘reasonable’. He insisted Mr Phillips and SEL UK had not ‘profited’ from the event but was instead remunerated for organising the event and securing sponsorship.
“He said: ‘On the SEL fee, it was important to the trustees this was undertaken on a non-profit basis. We benchmarked the costs at a higher level than the fee so SEL were not, in our view, securing a profit. Indeed the trustees had a legal agreement that no profit would be made on the contract, so we think the fee is reasonable.’
“Sir Stuart also said the publicly available accounts reflected ‘only part of the story’, as several additional donations means the final amount given to charity as a result of the event will rise to £780,000. ‘These accounts are yet to be audited and once all funds available for distribution are dispensed, the charity will close and its accounts will be filed,’ he added.
“Buckingham Palace said: ‘The Patron’s Lunch was an enjoyable and celebratory event which has directly benefited a large number of Her Majesty’s charities. Questions about the organisation and financial management are rightly a matter for The Patron’s Fund Board of Trustees.'”
Back in January 2016, Peter said words about how his company’s involvement with The Patron’s Lunch was totally not nepotism. At the time, Peter said:
“SEL is being paid a set fee basically to take this from sign-off from the Palace through to delivery of the event. I was very conscious to make sure we did this properly, so we went through the normal channels of approaching the Palace. We had to show that this wasn’t a case of trying to cut corners because the Queen happens to be my grandmother. We went through the normal channels. We presented an idea to [Buckingham Palace] – they really liked that idea. That took a few months to get through the various sign-off processes that you have to go through for these events. Then we got the sign-off in December 2014. It was after we had approached the office that I spoke to [The Queen] about it.”
No matter which company organized the event, they would have gotten paid, and probably this same amount. The problem here is a PR one: it comes across as nepotism and a member of the royal family cashing in on their status, especially since Peter previously did that exact thing by selling his wedding photos to Hello.
You know what the one thing Peter could have done which would have saved everyone – Peter, SEL UK, Buckingham Palace – this PR headache? He could have recused himself from this project. If Peter’s company really did go through “the normal channels of approaching the Palace”, then he should have had no problem recusing himself from the project in order to prevent the idea that his company got the job due to nepotism from being a headline.
One would think a company that specializes in “marketing and public relations” would have thought of that.
85 thoughts on “Peter Phillips’ company was paid £750,000 to organize The Patron’s Lunch”
There is a fine line, imho, in regards to this. Yes, he needs to secure contracts to keep his business afloat. On the other, he and the Palace should have expected some pushback due to Peter’s involvement. The whole concept of the lunch was off to me. If mybmemory serves me right, there was more than enough time to recuse himself. I truly think the BRF doesn’t get it at times, KMR.
Thanks for the update, KMR!
They were working on the Lunch for two years before they made it public. So Peter had plenty of time to recuse himself before they made the Lunch public to avoid the nepotism talk.
2 years surely gave them time to come up with something…better, surely? Charging charities to sit in the rain-soaked mall under a plastic poncho eating an M&S egg mayo sandwich. I never understood how it celebrated the charities – it was more about the charities showing appreciation (even deference) to the queen and paying for the privilege
£750,000 for a street fair! I used to volunteer for charitable races (5ks, 10ks, etc) which were all outdoors, had entertainment, refreshments and giveaways, and we did it for a lot less money than this.
Hmm, this is not a good look? But if the company did go through the right channels and won the bid fairly then it should get paid? No one is going to do that amount of work for free? Having the Queen’s grandson involved possibly meant he worked harder to make sure everything went like clockwork as he didn’t want to let his Granny down?
I had thought i read that Peter Philips had stepped back when talk of nepotism started?
There is a little thought in the back if my mind, this may be red herring to stop us thinking about the French photos trial which is coming up soon? I do see it’s another DM story.
Cathy, I can totally see William throwing everyone and their mother under the proverbial bus to distract people and the media from commenting on the trial coming up.
Also, even then this special lunch idea celebrating HM’s 90th (created by her eldest grandchild and first grandson, Peter), sounded sketchy to me. I’m sure Peter is a nice guy (compared to some other members of his family) but if he really wanted his company to be apart of this lunch for his granny’s birthday, he shouldn’t have been the “head honcho” of the project (since it would’ve looked incredibly suspicious).
Any company hired would have gotten paid. This is a PR problem that Peter’s PR company didn’t think of ahead of time would be a problem. Makes me think they aren’t that great at their jobs.
I don’t know, to me it still would have screamed nepotism even if he had recused himself. I mean it’s a relatively inexperienced company (only 2 other clients and 1 of these clients is the owner’s mother) getting a HUGE gig.
Like Cathy said above I thought that he did step back in some form but maybe I am misremembering, BUT if he did step back that would not make it any less nepotistic IMO given the points you made, namely that given the size of the company and it’s limited client list, Peter still would have been involved in some capacity and would have benefited. so stepping back was/would have been a hollow gesture.
They are a marketing company with only 2 longterm clients….a Global horse eventing tour’s London stop and the annual Gatcombe eventing horse trials.
Considering that Gatcombe is on his mother’s estate, and the Global Tour’s London stop takes place in Royal Parks.
Further, he also manages Zara’s PR and career as well as MikeTindall.
i would say that his royal connection helps his career enormously and as such he wouldn’t see the bad optics of organising the Patron’s lunch.
Maybe they went to Poor Jason for some PR advice?
Poor Jason has his hands full with whiny bill especially, now there are clear closeup paps of happy whiny bill and friends on ski vacation – ignoring the Commonwealth celebrations with HM POW Prince Harry – leaving Chutney carol and kids home.
This is carol disclosing and having paps PR since waity was not up front at the Cathedral with HM nor they were invited on the ski vacation!
Did they go through the right channels? From what I remember it was Peter’s idea, not an open bidding process. He then stepped away but they’re still pocketing a mint.
This is one of those examples of how Peter and Zara profit off their royal connections, things that so many people brush aside. If this had been Beatrice or Eugenie, there would be pitchforks involved.
They live rent-free at Gatcombe, a property fixed up and secured with millions of taxpayer money. Peter’s business is based in London. Does he have a London apartment, or does he live at SJP at Anne’s free place whenever he’s in London?
Good point about B&E. To sum up, Peter came up with the idea to hold a party for his grandmothers birthday, got granny to pay him £750,000 to do it, charge the guests £150 to attend, and all this in the name of helping charity? I didn’t realize Peter’s middle name was charity.
Appalling. The RF’s greed knows no bounds when misappropriating public funds to enrich its own. And the bald faced lies they tell to spin PR are galling.
There seems to be a public lethargy regarding this rapacious family while essentials such as health care are cut to the bone. I’m sick of this family’s flagrant self interest. Their pagentry and self promotion such as mental health care is all a smoke screen for their greed. It’s sickening. I no longer believe that the Cambs’ lackluster ways are disappointing to the Queen. She accepts that behaviour and obviously feels it’s the due of all her offspring to enrich themselves at every turn. Shame on you, Queenie.
It is debatable whether the Patron’s Lunch was ever a good idea in the first place. And why should a highly priced event, not easily accessed by the public, be the centrepiece of the monarch’s birthday celebrations? Yet its organisation was funded by the public. It was SEL’s concept of a lunch that was marketed to BP/Granny? It wasn’t a BP initiative that went out to public tender with SEL the successful bidder? If SEL/ Peter Phillips was paid 750GBP he did profit from the event. That SEL’s only clients appear to be Peter Phillips’ family is dodgy as hell.
What were they hoping to raise when this event was first mooted by SEL UK? Was it ever stated? As it stands, the best face that can be put on this miserable scenario is that 750GBP was spent in order to raise (maybe) 780GBP; at worst, 750GBP was spent to raise 301GBP. By any standards, this is yet another misuse of public funds by the BRF, money that could be better directed to services needed urgently for public interests such as health, education etc.
I agree, Indiana Joanna, this family, led by the Queen, is rapacious in its seemingly never-ending quest to grift even more from the public purse. Members of the BRF are so inculcated to the pleasures of sucking on the public teat that they are unable or unwilling to carve careers not linked to exploiting royal connections.
I struggle with whether or not the Patron’s Lunch was a good idea. I think an event oriented towards the patrons was a very good idea, but once you crunch the numbers I don’t see how the event could be deemed a serious fundraiser that requires bringing in an outside firm to manage the event and paying that firm a hefty fee.
At some point it seems like TPTB should have embraced the idea of honoring the patrons but then executed it in a more traditional manner like a garden party or reception at Buckingham Palace, which of course would not have been free, but presumably would not have cost as much in actual money and carried less baggage.
SEL sold 10,000 tickets @ 150 pounds = 1,500 million pounds. This included patrons having to pony up 150 quid themselves as Phillips later admitted he had underbid. Deduct 750,000 for SEL/Peter Phillips first up from the gross. You are left with 750,000 to be distributed, after costs, to the Queen’s charities. Not sure whether all 600 were included or just the 290 mentioned. Regardless, you’re right, a garden party would have sufficed, funded by the Queen (or rather, the taxpayer). If the vast majority of DM comments reveal anything, it is that no-one is fooled with the sheer greed and self-interest at work here. I’d add incompetence too.
I know it costs to organize things like this, so I don’t see much of a problem here except Peter is of course HM’s grandson. I know there was a to-do about Peter being involved, but if the company wen through all the right channels to get the bid, I don’t know–it’s shady just because he’s involved but otherwise I wouldn’t have a problem with it? Is it HIS company, per se, or does he just work there? I am surprised he didn’t recuse himself earlier as he should have, maybe he didn’t think it was a big deal? Peter seems like a decent person, so does Zara.
AND the Patron’s Lunch, while a good idea and great PR for the RF and the charities, didn’t raise as much money which is the appalling part. That’s what bothers me. Why do stuff like this when it raises no money? Didn’t the charities have to pay? I guess they feel it’s worth the PR, kinda like having Kate as patron though she does little is good for the charities as when she does show up it’s a PR show for them to shine and hopefully get more attention. (Though it’s not like The Royal Foundation seems to donate as much funds as, say, The Prince’s Trust which genuinely helps people.)
Peter is the director of the London branch, which he set up, of the company.
I actually had no idea The Patron’s Lunch was supposed to be raising money. I don’t think they did a great job promoting it properly.
Both Peter and Zara use their Royal connections to make money in ways that the Middletons get criticized for.
Yeah, I don’t think they did either. All I remember is the nepotism claims and so on, as well as the idea that The Patron’s Lunch was a gathering of charities and the ticket prices would go to the charities in the end.
I don’t really blame Peter or Zara for using their connections that much, Zara for example has had to put in real hard work to be successful and get where she is; being HM’s granddaughter and having the privilege to have all those horses has helped, but it’s been her sweat, blood, and tears that have gone into it. I really admire Zara, it’s so difficult to be a high-class athlete even if you have all the cash in the world. (I know a lot of Olympic level figure skaters, some medalists, and even those who came from affluent backgrounds or made a ton of money in the sport in shows and so on still worked their tails off.)
The Middletons at least seem to be doing it so…underhandedly? But it’s what they want, it’s what they use Kate for per se–kinda like Kate getting around the no gifts/free clothes/etc rule, companies send to Pippa instead who gives them to Kate.
To me the difference between Peter & Zara vs the Middletons is the matter of blood relation. It’s just tacky to me to use your in-law’s connections. It makes all those stories of them being social climbers and pushing Kate on William seem more plausible.
Personally I will take tacky over graft.
IMO all the families who married heirs to the British throne were social climbers going back to the Saxe-Coburgs, yes even royals and aristocrats can be ambitious and status seeking. You can go back even further than the Saxe-Coburgs, e.g., the Boleyns, but it’s definitely been “a theme” in the past 150 years or so.
It’s easy to excuse Zara and Philip because, they haven’t had a negative media campaign against them since birth which means the public are more inclined to give them the benefit of doubt
Imagine if the Yorkies were to do the same thing as Peter. Imagine the outcry.
I definitely don’t support the way Peter Phillips conducts his business. But at least he belongs to the family, The Middletons are doing what Peter does but without a close link to the family. It’s just too much for me. Kind of like a guest inviting themselves into your kitchen for some food. There should be boundaries.
To me, Zara’s career doesn’t overly rely on connections. She benefits from the royal money to support her getting started and the fame in getting endorsements but she does have to work to be at a good enough level to continue competing and to win. So I’m supportive of her. Eugenie too. They both are trying their best to build their careers even though their family helped them get in.
+1 Herazeus. They trade on the connections and they live off Anne. Zara had access to the finest horses due to her granny’s connections, plus her training and housing her horses as mom’s house. A house fixed up and secured with taxpayer money. How is that better than B&E?
@EL With all due respect, training at the Olympic level for most athletes demands constant scrapping and scraping for sponsors. Zara is in the extremely privileged position to not have to worry about money, which is provided to her by her mother through the queen by way of public funding. And how many young people who are serious athletes never get the chance to compete for the very reason they don’t have the money. Zara benefits enormously from her royal connections, which give her a huge advantage.
It also strikes me that Peter isn’t much of a serious business man and events planner. More of a dabbler who knows he can step in front of the line of the real serious bidders and then cynically understands that he can plead extra expenses later to pad his paycheck. He only has two clients. He doesn’t work very hard except because he knows he lay claim to Granny’s money and her influence to make the public fork over more money to enrich himself.
Zara had to get lots of sponsors to fund her Olympic dreams. Being HM’s granddaughter surely helped but I don’t think it was the end all, be all of her funding; she still needed to work to get them, and produce results as well. Horseback riding is insanely expensive, no matter the help she’s had with it. Zara seems fairly down-to-earth, a normal person who knows the value of work and being her own person. I like her a lot and respect her hard work. Being an Olympian is no easy feat even if you come from a very privileged background.
Ellie: Zara absolutely earned her Olympic status. No one can take that from her.
It’s a very expensive sport to participate in, and anyone who does really needs a huge bank balance and sponsorship, and that is not something i criticise her for.
However, it’s always been largely understood that Zara’s connections are the reason she commands higher than normal sponsorship fees.
Earlier in her career, before her talent was more publicly appreciated, there were frequent rows about how or why certain companies hired her. And it was always about her royal connections. Articles like the 2 below were a frequent occurrence wherein her royal connections were the point and the need for sponsorship added at the very last minute rather than the body of the article.
Her frequent Hello interviews focus on her royal connections rather than her Olympic achievements.
Lots of glossy Olympians who don’t get the type of coverage or sponsorship that she gets especially when you consider that she is an Olympian in a sport 3/4 of Hello readers or the general public do not participate in nor familiar.
Her husband, who participates in a sport that is loved globally, and has been a world champion in said sport since he joined the England team in 1999 doesn’t receive as high a level of fees or sponsorship deals.
Ellie, I’m not saying Zara isn’t deserving of her Olympian status. But her sponsors include Land Rover, notorious for giving the RF freebies because their relationship with the royals is marketing gold. That is one specific example of how it’s nice to be a member of the royal family.
Zara got 90,000 per year from the Bank of Scotland (when brother Peter worked there) if she wore the bank’s logo at sporting events:
I’d question whether she earned the Olympian status. The selection for the equestrian team is a “selection” debated by committee. It isn’t based on straight numbers.
Having the Queen’s granddaughter on the team, in London, during the Jubilee year? Entirely possible that contributed to her “selection” by committee. She wasn’t selected for the team this go-round.
Agree KMR both use the ‘ grandchildren’ of TQ, and should be doing duties, although Princess Anne work as hard as the heir, and she is not close in Line as her brother Price Charles.
Carole pippa james mifdleton are no comparison to Princess Royal children. middletons are not royals not even aristos or friends of royalty, before years of stalking (nor blood relative).
KMR please keep the posts up – I guess the eldest grandson felt he had as much right to the gravy train – what a bunch of nasty people …. we all work hard and they are takers
If you are in such high cirles, you start to think differently after some time. They excuse their actions. Morally rotten but financially provided.
That’s something you can’t blame the Middletons as far as I can see. It’s a thin line especially with relatives working for your company.
From the beginning, I thought The Patron’s Lunch in general was such a stupid idea. The cornerstone of the monarch’s 90th birthday should have been something that was more open to the public – and free to attend. There is something really tacky about charging charities to see the Queen. Because that’s literally all it was. The Queen didn’t even interact with them; she waved to them from her car. If they wanted to have a celebration specifically for her charities she could have had a garden party or reception at BP where the guests were people from her patronages.
I don’t understand how Peter recusing himself would have made things look less like nepotism and greedy. There is no way the powers that be at BP don’t know that Peter Phillips started that branch of that company. When his proposal came along, they would know it was still his company, and he would still directly profit. Especially as the company does not seem to be very big. He has 2 clients that are directly related to royal access, and his wife is the company’s secretary.
I used the think the Queen cared about being above reproach and was privately exasperated by William, Kate, and the Middleton’s greed. But this year has been eye-opening for me as I have learned a bit more about the actions of other’s in the family. She has misused funds for palace maintenance for years and siphoned it for private renovations. Charles is trying to get the Duchy for his own private property. Andrew has done a lot of shady things regarding money. Her eldest grandchild is allowed to pull this stunt. If you look William and Kate’s behavior, it totally fits in with the norm for that family. The worst part is that this is all unaccountable. How can they be held accountable? You can’t vote the Queen out of office and start anew.
Ultimately this is why there is no redeeming the monarchy. It is a huge waste of money and until the BRF is drastically cut back and has its access to taxpayer money severely restricted and made publicly accountable then nothing will ever change.
Will and Kate just make the utter uselessness more obvious, but they are just more extreme versions of every single one of their relatives. Even Harry.
To me, Peter saying that his company “went through the normal channels” is essentially meaningless. That could be his way of saying that he talked with an official branch of the palace rather than with his grandmother directly or that he submitted standard paperwork to the office rather than being excused from it. As it stands, the statement is very opaque, and, as far as I’m concerned, it still leaves plenty of room for nepotism unless:
a) companies could apply for the position given to Peter’s organization openly or by invitation;
b) invitations, if they were issued, were also given to companies other than Peter’s, and the companies to which they were given were peers of his (i.e. not shell companies or garage start-ups with no track record at all);
c) criteria were established to objectively rank/grade competing companies on the basis of their ability to perform the functions required for the event and their track record;
d) reviewers had no conflicts of interest and were allowed to vote freely–that is, they were not guided to select one company over another except by evaluating the objective criteria with regard to the competitors;
e) and no extra points were awarded to Peter’s group on the basis of his relationship to the Queen or his fame.
Color me just a teensy bit skeptical that the process and SEL UK managed to tick all of those boxes.
Peter admitted to talking the idea through with granny before submitting the ‘paperwork’, the signal to all being that she approved, meaning that a body in charge of celebrations would not object.
Add this to the growing list of transparently entitled, corrupt behaviour by the extended BRF. Lazy, venal bugger. The guy is playing at business just like Willy plays at being a pilot. No one believes this ‘through normal channels’ tripe.
Charging charities to celebrate the queen is the height of greed and hubris. Raking in over a million from *charities*is obscene. I would love to see the financial breakdown of this event.
What a bunch of losers at life.
Absolutely MaventheFirst. Forget celebrating the wonderful charities who do life saving work. But No! These worthwhile people have to instead pay to celebrate one of the most worthless and useless monarchs in British History, whose only claim to fame is living a long life, having a notorious philanderer for her husband, and lazy celebs for extended family members. I could comment on their collective lack of good looks too, but I won’t.
Another reason why I detest the half literate Lilibet. Her grandson would have no career to speak of, were it not for Lilibet.
None of them have careers to speak of. Things fizzle out or are dressed up to appear grand despite this family having access to the best education available, any number of connections to ease their way… But they still return the public teat, like swallows to Capistrano, though the depth of that dependence is kept well and truly hidden.
Shocking nepotism. I think the Queen has a blind spot when it comes to her family. She was impressed with how hard Beatrice and Eugenie worked for their degrees, I genuinely think she has no idea how hard ordinary people work, in any sphere. I’m surprised at Princess Anne, she seems sensible to me.
Anne is the best one at hiding her entitlement because she doesn’t flaunt it or does things that make people assume she is different.
As an example, she is OK with her kids not gaving titles (yes i know she can’t pass titles on), yet houses her kids on her 1000acre estate complete with taxpayer renovations and security and essentially hires her son to market an event on her estate. The ex-hubby was also housed on the estate post-divorce so not entirely self reliant. Not exactly the behaviour of someone who wants her kids to cut the family strings.
Further, Anne was/is principal mover in having her ‘blood Princess’ status acknowledged and kicked up a fuss such that HM changed the order of precedence so she doesn’t have to give way to her in-laws eg Diana, Camilla or Kate when her relatives aren’t around to elevate their status.
She frequently abuses things like the helicopter travel to all her engagements, but no one says a thing because she carries out so many engagements across the country instead of planning her diary properly such that she concentrates on an area per day and thus cut down need for the helicopter journeys.
She has a personal yacht that she sails around Britain every summer to indulge her lighthouse obsession.
Etc etc and so forth.
I thought the Queen gifted Anne the Gatcombe estate when she got married? I thought it was a privately owned property and not one of the official royal households?
It was purchased by the Queen with “private funds” but was fixed up with taxpayer money from the Crown Estate (millions in today’s money). And the entire estate is secured with taxpayer funds.
Bea, don’t forget the Queen’s Christmas message
mention of her “pilot” grandson, the valient, self sacrificing, hard-working Bill. She padded that idiot’s resume because he was virtually just a twit who insisted he ride along on the air ambulance. You never saw him do more than lay hand on the end of a gurney already lifted on board. The self delusion and entitlement these fakers have is stunning.
The Queen is no different to William; she has no problems with his joke of a work ethic. Her silly words are solely to keep the family business of milking the public – aka monarchy – going.
I compare Zara and Peter to P. Margaret’s kids. Though David did trade on his royal connection for publicity for his furniture business, at least he had clients beyond the family. Sarah has been the soul of discretion with her art. I’m not saying they did not have enormous privilege, and money, but they seemed to have handled it better. Zara and Peter and their families seem likeable, but that does not give them a pass on trading on their royal connections. The queen has really done a poor job with her own close relations, and probably her lack of discipline in dealing with them and money will prove more damaging to the monarchy than anything Diana supposedly did.
Rather than fighting a defensive battle to preserve their opaque finances, the BRF should be planning for a future with limited numbers of people and transparent funding.
As much as i rail against the trading on connections, i genuinely sympathise with the fine line they all have to tread, but as you said, there is a difference when they take blatant advantage such as this and where they gain advantage because of a skill or talent they already possess eg David Linley and his woodworking skills.
A former boss had professional dealings with David Linley and found him to be most unpleasant, continually insinuating his royal status. It seems that this concoction called ‘royal’ corrupts character at all levels.
I don’t know how the UK can afford the BRF. If the UK does want a monarchy, why not cut the duties to state occasions only eg Trooping of the Colour, services to armed forces, state banquets etc. to be paid on a modest ‘per diem’ basis, like Madeleine when she goes back to Sweden to perform a specific duty. Anything else, they’re to fund from their vast personal resources, including security.
If the RF had to fund their own security they’d be broke in a couple of years.
Yup. The security is crazy for the BRF, I don’t know why they have to guard everybody; but this is why they’re all living in country piles on estates or KP or St James’s, already heavily secure with police presence. It makes it easier I guess, but when say, Kate runs to Bucklebury it’s a nightmare and costs a lot of money (I read William living on Anglesey for however long cost millions of pounds as he refused to live on base, and the operation took Welsh police off their regular jobs serving the public to serve W’s security needs).
If the BRF was downgraded to include just the monarch and spouse for a few state occasions, the mystique of the rest of them would eventually dissipate. Also, that mystique is whipped up by relentless PR.
Andrew insisted that his daughters needed state-provided security but senior security officials declared no danger existed. He elected to pay for his daughters’ security, if indeed they still have a security detail or maybe granny has absorbed the cost but not declared it. Many of these ‘royals’ live in an ego bubble, using security as a kind of a status symbol.
They could afford their own security; it’s up to them to decide what they needed. And if forced to pay from their own pockets they may decide they don’t need as much! I doubt they would do the charity visits done now, and instead live quietly on their privately-owned or leased estates, as they already do. With no public interest they would be no different to other well-heeled citizens.
When you take away the security angle, they all still live above their means due to taxpayer subsidies.
Take Edward’s home, link below
By comparison William and Kate live in a shed. Both their homes can fit in Edward and Sophie’s one house.
Even the despised Andrew’s homes, past and present are this big.
Anne lives on an estate that is twice the size of Charles’s more modest Highgrove Estate.
They don’t have the personal funds to purchase their own extravagant homes and for the most part lease them or do a dogdy deal with tge relevant duchy to acquire them at a knock down price.
Then use taxpayer money to refurbish at an extravagant cost.
And tgat’s before you touch upon the entire family’s use of helicopters as though they are taxis – all taxpayer paid.
If you strip out all the taxoayer funding, excluding the security, this family can’t afford their own lifestyles.
And it’s very telling that as soon as they are downgraded such thst HM stops subsidising them either privately or taxpayer funds, they immediately downsize and sell off all the extravagant toys and live very modestly.
As much as I like Edward and Sophie, and Anne too, I do not see why anyone needs those massive buildings to live in.
Charles while being extravagant in his own way at least lives relatively modestly by royal standards, though isn’t frugal to the point of being cheap like HM in her own way with her Tupperware and whatever.
Too late to correct: Andrew’s homes, past and present are not as big as Edward’s home nor does he have as much land as Anne or Charles.
So, ego and perceived status drives a lifestyle they cannot afford through their own efforts. UK taxpayers are forced through taxation to fund lifestyles that are simply not warranted. Where will it end?
How much personal wealth does HM have? She should fund her family and the lot of them cut their cloth accordingly. The BRF has lots of influence. Surely their wealthy friends can supply them with goodies.
Wow! I had never seen Edward’s home. Is there no specification on how the sovereign grant has to be used? I mean something like X amount for repairs, Y for charity work (transport, clothing etc.). The spending is so wasteful considering how badly maintained the royal palaces are/were.
Jen: Weathy friends subsidise them as well eg the summer mediterenean cruises that Charles and Camilla take are always on friends’ yachts.
Or the time WK were accidentally papped by a member of the public exiting a helicopter from Wales. The pilot, a wealthy man, admitted to giving them rides whenever he was passing through Wales.
This accidental outing led to row about royals and freebies and soon afterwards, it was announced that HM had leased a helicopter for WK – caveat that helicopter was supposed to be for work purposes only and rest of family could use it if it was available. However, in last year’s accounts, under flights, there was a line stating that WK could travel everywhere by helicopter and there was no delineation between helicopter travel for private or work purposes. It was all to covered by Sovereign grant.
EL: the Sovereign grant is given with caveats on areas to spend the money, but not broken down in terms of budget per your suggestion. Every summer, we get a public reading of accounts that informsbus how money was spent, but no accounting on which areas outspent or underspent within the overall budget. You do get a year to year comparison figures of line items, but were are not given a detailed analysis on any savings/ overspend in each line item.
The only exception is when amount spent in one area is so large that it warrants notice (and PR) eg recently that seems to be WK expenditure on homes and travel.
Thanks for that Herazeus. I’d imagine many people seek to ingratiate themselves with royals.
Like it or not, they are the children of the Queen’s favorite son. That makes them possible security targets.
The young idealist in me used to think was all you needed to get a head was an education.
Then reality hit and I learned it’s not what you know but who you know. It’s more apparent with the rich and famous and their offspring/friends.
The children of actors/singers/models who get the Automatic in, Malia Obama interning with the Weinstein co, the internships Beatrice had and even Eugenie’s work at the art houses.
Just ugh all around
Yup, it’s not just the BRF. It’s everywhere and always shall be. Hurray nepotism.
It’s a small miracle if someone succeeds today on sheer merit. It’s very disheartening.
KMR thanks for print this!
“Its website boasts only three clients, including the Patron’s Lunch and the Gatcombe Festival of British Eventing — which takes place annually on Princess Anne’s Gloucestershire estate – plus the Longines Global Champions Tour.”
This tells you everything – they got the contract in large part because it was family. Surely, there are well established companies who would have jumped at the chance to present ideas. I have a feeling the palace had a favorite from the very start.
Understandable, yes, that his company wouldn’t work for free – but it looks very silly when they claim it was an entirely fair process.
While we are on the topic of finances, can anyone explain the whole Crown estate ownership thing? Does the monarch have the right to take back ownership? I ask because it was my understanding that George III had to give them up because of debts and the civil list was granted more to avoid embarrassment than as part of a trade. But then you get articles like this
which make it seem like the royal family costs are covered by the crown estate funds and that if the monarch took back the estate, the people would lose out.
There are others who have intricate knowledge of the questions you have asked, but the article you have linked to is ancient – between 14-21 years old. Sir Michael Peat held that position from 1996-2002. He went on to work for Charles before taking a job in the private sector in 2011.
Herazeus can probably offer a more thorough commentary, but from what I understand the Crown Estate is owed by the people and the monarch gets X pay off the top while the rest goes to other things unrelated to maintaining the royal family. From that money HM is using to pay for the upkeep of Windsor and Buckingham Palace, which she should have been doing for decades in the first place, but sat on it until it could no longer be ignored–as she tends to do with just about everything.
Sorry Jen it was the quickest link I could find to put as an example 🙂
@Ellie, that was my understanding too. So I’m curious about the phrasing used in many articles (not just the one linked).
The crown estate website clearly states that the estate belongs to the reigning monarch but the monarch cannot sell it and the income does not belong to him/her. But the articles justifying the cost of the monarchy say they cost less than they bring in via the crown estate. Which is why I wonder – can the monarchy actually take back ownership of the estate? Is the scenario provided for in the original negotiations?
I’ve always thought since the crown estate was given to parliament in return for George III’s debts being cleared and parliament taking over govt expenses that were still under the monarch, the monarchy owes the British public and this shouldn’t be an argument at all.
As Ellie said, Herazeus will know to the letter how to answer your questions. As far as I know, the only property HM owns in her own right are Sandringham and Balmoral. Everything else belongs to the UK. The Duchies belong to the people too. I thought the Sovereign Grant was meant to cover maintenance but the Queen diverted these funds for personal use. There seems to be almost total opacity rather than transparency when it comes to this money. Does the Sovereign Grant cover Andrew, Anne, Edward and families or is this under the table money? I have no idea what they do to generate the income needed to maintain their standard of living.
As far as I understand, the Queen doles out some of the Sovereign Grant money to cover Anne, Edward, and Andrew’s expenses. And I think Sandringham is a farm that makes money to sustain itself, but I could be wrong on that.
Thanks for that info KMR. Yes, I think Sandringham is a working farm. Remember when Kate and Pips were going to bag all the nuts and sell them?!
EL / Ellie / Jen/ KMR: Before i answer the question specifically asked by EL regarding the Crown Estates, i have to say that i have watched with dismay over the past 6 years as HM and Charles have chased and been granted exemption from FOI regarding financials and their general affairs which makes it difficult to research them.
Further, in the same time frame, any information websites have been re-arranged such that it’s hard for people to find the right information. Or the right information is hidden under a mountain of obsfucation whilst lies are touted via PR and slowly, behind the scenes, the royals attempt a property grab of state property like the duchies and the crown estates.
Case in point, before they were upgraded, the BRF website, the Duchy of Cornwall website AND the crown Estate websites told you in very clear language that they didn’t belong to the royal family or monarch nor have they ever had ownership. Now you either have to dig to find that nugget of information amongst a mountain of PR or it’s written in a way that implies Royal ownership.
And now to answer EL’s question.
The Crown Estates are not and have never belonged to the royal family. Ditto the Duchy of Cornwall.
The Crown Estates were carved out in Norman times to fund the instrument of government which was defined as parliament, judiciary, army and the royal household. Obviously in Norman times, the monarch and the Royal Household made up alot of government which is how they came to be funded by it.
However, this estate was never the property of the monarch. They were only it’s manager. The idea was that it would provide revenue such that there would be no or little taxation except in emergencies if the estates’ revenues fell short.
Any personal wealth the monarch had was completely separate from the crown Estates. This remains the case today.
Unfortunately, successive monarchs were such poor managers of the estates that they frequently fell into debt and said monarch would have to go to Parliament to ask for special taxation to pay their debts.
As the estates were poorly managed, the cycle of begging Parliament for extra money was never broken and got worse over the centuries. Exception Henry 7.
George 3, by choice or persuasion, decided to handover the management of the Estate to Parliament on condition his expenses and the royal household’s expenses were paid. These expenses were meant to compensate him as part of government – it’s head.
These expenses became better known as the civil list and later the Sovereign Grant.
The definition of the Royal Household has also changed as we have moved away from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy. It’s also changed in terms of who in the household receives payment, directly or indirectly. In the past every member of the household was paid, now it’s only the Sovereign and their consort as well as the expenses of anyone carrying out royal duties on their behalf eg Anne, Edward, Sophie, WK, Andrew, H, the Queen’s cousins.
The wording in the documents about the Crown Estates makes it clear that it’s a state property and not a personal property. It also doesn’t name anyone by name, only by title. That made / makes transfer of it’s management easier and smooth.
With time, the definition of government has expanded to include public services, the police and any programmes the treasury decides to fund eg the NHS. It’s obvious that The Crown Estates aren’t enough to fund all these things, so intermittent taxation became permant taxation to cover the extra costs.
The switch to pay a % of the crown Estates as the Sovereign grant was in part because the civil list was very poorly managed and difficult to control. In theory, capping monies at 15% of The Crown Estates implies that the royal household would exercise financial planning unlike before when they simply presented a list of expenses to be compensated.
However, the Sovereign grant didn’t do away with other streams of funding whether from other govt depts or emergency slush funds.
And the Queen hasn’t been shy about raiding these other slush funds to pay for the royal household whilst continuing to receive money via civil list / Sovereign grant or govt depts.
When you read a headline about the Queen being poor or down to her last million, it usually means that the slush fund for that particular item has been depleted rather than the Queen being personally down to her last million.
In the past, all this information was easy to find, but now, with journalists repeating untruths or PR statements, together with the word ‘Crown’ in the name, the public believe more than ever that the estates belong to the royal family.
Yet, the entire government uses the term ‘ Crown’ to describe various depts and or services eg ‘The Crown Prosecution’, and no one suggests that they belong to the royal family.
Ditto the Duchy of Cornwall was carved out in the 14th century to fund the activities of the heir to the throne. It is not the personal property of the heir. Like the Crown Estates, the wording in the Duchy documents do not name a person, only title.
In the event of abolishing the monarchy, the Crown estates and the duchy will simply revert to state ownership in all the areas they have not already. There is no substantial compensation to be given to the royal family because at best they were merely managers of these estates.
I can’t imagine what legal arguments Charles is using to try to grab the duchy as personal property because if you tried to claim a govt property, at best it would be sold to you rather than simply handed to you or awarded to you.
Further, he was trying to grab the Crown Estates using argument that funding for the royal family would stabilise under such a plan, but if you understand that the crown estates pay for government, from parliament to NHS, you understand what a crock that plan is.
Finally, to KMR’s point. The only personal property owned by the family are Sandrigham and Balmoral. They are managed privately and are working farms/ tourist destinations to sustain themselves though as residences of the head of state they receive the usual coverage needed to secure them as well as compensation for any govt usage.
Thank you, Herazeus, for that excellent, clear and concise explanation. Now, you need to send this to those journalists reporting anything royal.
I hope Brits are being vigilant about any attempts the BRF might make to claim publicly-owned assets. I’d expect nothing less than riots if they did try to steal them away.
Thanks a lot guys. Herazeus this information has definitely been hidden or made obscure. I’ve searched for the answer for ages and never got such a proper answer. Thanks a lot.
And KMR – thanks for this blog. I’ve learned a lot from here. Keep up the good work.
You are welcome.
Having said all that in my previous comment, there is an argument to be made for the duchy of Lancaster being private property.
This is the duchy that provides income for the monarch and forms the bulk of their private wealth.
This duchy originally belonged to the Earls of Lancaster who brought it into royal possession as a dowry when a daughter married John of Gaunt, father of Henry 4. This is also how the title ‘Lancaster’ came into the royal family. (I’m simplifying the history).
Anyhue, the duchy of Lancaster was held seperately from The Crown Estates and always treated as personal property of the Sovereign until 1702 when it was curtailed by parliament.
The duchy remains under direct management of parliament, but entire income is given to the sovereign. This is how the Queen funds private affairs eg funding all her children and grandchildren and extended relatives.
This income is considered her private income as long as she remains sovereign and will eventually pass in turn to Charles, William, George.
In the event of removal of monarchy and compensation to the royal family, the duchy of Lancaster would be the focus of negotiations and i think a case can be made based on it’s origins and the fact that it was held separately until 1702, when Queen Anne came to the throne.
EL : i finally got round to reading your link and my jaw dropped at line after line of lies told by Michael Peat.
Considering the history of the Crown Estates is available in any history book, plus every website on the matter when he gave that conference, i can’t believe he would tell such a boldfaced lie AND have the DM print it as fact.
It shows how much Palace statements deserve a pinch of salt on occassion.
It also shows the lax journalism standards of those allocated to the royal beat. The Palace plays on that fact – that no royal reporter is investigative nor will challenge facts, particularly those associated with the intricacies of finance, true ownership et al. This allows the BRF to spin false narratives that become entrenched as reality in the public’s minds. The better papers disregard the royal beat as fluff but I do wish a good bloodhound of a journalist would do some work in this area.
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