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Queen reaped £20 million from private estate, Brexit a risk: Report
Brexit could pose a “strategic risk” to private finances of Queen Elizabeth II, who receives a multimillion-pound profit from her ancestral estate each year, according to a report.
The annual report of the Duchy of Lancaster, the estate that has provided a private income to the monarch for the last eight centuries, recorded a £20.2 million surplus in fiscal year 2017-18, an increase of 4.9 percent compared to the previous year, The Guardian reported.
The profit is almost three and half times larger than it was in 2000, when it stood at £5.8 million.
“This has been another positive year for the duchy with strong growth in almost all our business sectors,” the report said.
The 60-page report mentioned Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union under the heading “strategic risk.”
“Each year the duchy carries out a five-year business plan as well as preparing rolling forecasts for the year ahead,” read one passage in the section.
“As part of this process, a review is undertaken of long-term trends to assess options for continued and ongoing viability of duchy operations – this would include any outcomes from Brexit negotiations,” it added.
Most of the duchy’s income, 64 percent, came from commercial activities, according to the report. Agriculture accounted for 18 percent, while financial activities and residential income stood for 18 percent and 10 percent respectively.
The net value of the 753-year-old estate increased by 2.9 percent to stand at £533.8 million last year.
No mention of Paradise Papers
Last year, the Paradise Papers revealed that the duchy invested millions of pounds of the estate in a Cayman Islands fund as part of an offshore portfolio.
However, the report made no mention of the income from the offshore investment, said David McClure, who has authored Royal Legacy, an investigation into the royal finances.
“It is as if the Paradise Papers were a mirage and the bad press a bad dream. Her financial advisers should have had some knowledge of the offshore holdings and ought to have questioned whether they were appropriate or could do reputational damage to the monarchy,” he said.
The duchy report suggested that the investment portfolio was managed independently.
“The management of the quoted portfolio has been predominantly placed in the hands of a single manager, Newton Investment Management Limited, which has helped to enhance accountability and reduce administration,” it said.
The royal family’s finances and extravagant expenditure have long been subject to criticism.
“The duchy of Lancaster is not the Queen’s private property but a land portfolio gifted to her by parliament,” said Graham Smith, the chief executive of Republic, a group campaigning for an elected head of state in the UK.
“Our head of state does not need this £20m income when people are struggling to put food on the table and at a time when there is such economic uncertainty.”