King Charles wants the crown estate’s windfarm profits to benefit the public…?

King Charles now controls the Crown’s vast real estate empire. He also controlled a vast real estate empire as Prince of Wales – the Duchy of Cornwall and the Crown Estate are the two largest land-holders in the UK. The Crown Estate is maintained via the Sovereign Grant, which is why taxpayers are picking up the enormous cost of the decade-long Buckingham Palace renovation. But the Crown Estate also generates income – mostly in the form of rental income and agriculture. This week, King Charles confirmed that the Crown Estate has signed lease agreements for six offshore wind projects, projects which will net the crown about £1 billion in profit annually. So, will that £1 billion in profit just be folded into the private royal assets, which are something like £17 billion? Will the money go into the Sovereign Grant? Well, King Charles is playing it a bit fast and loose:

King Charles has asked for profits from a £1bn-a-year crown estate windfarm deal to be used for the “wider public good” rather than as extra funding for the monarchy. Under the taxpayer-funded sovereign grant, which is now £86.3m a year, the king receives 25% of the crown estate’s annual surplus, which includes an extra 10% for the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace.

Six new offshore wind energy lease agreements, announced by the crown estate on Thursday, have generated a major windfall for the estate, which would usually lead to a jump in the monarchy’s official funding.

The monarch’s right to collect royalties from wind and wave power was granted by Tony Blair’s Labour government in a 2004 act of parliament. The approach is in contrast to the job of setting royalties and assigning drilling rights for oil and gas, which rests with the government. But the king, who highlighted the cost of living crisis in his Christmas message, has requested that the extra funds “be directed for wider public good”, instead of to the sovereign grant, at a time when many are facing financial hardship.

It is not clear as to the exact amount of taxpayer funding the king has passed up, but it is likely to be many millions.

The crown estate – an ancient portfolio of land and property – belongs to the reigning monarch “in right of the crown” but it is not their private property. Profits for the crown estate jumped by £43.4m to £312.7m in the year to the end of March, with the value of its seabed portfolio swelling to £5bn. The portfolio also includes chunks of central London – the monarch is one of the largest property owners in the West End, including St James’s and Regent Street – as well as farmland, offices and retail parks from Southampton to Newcastle.

The crown estate is also responsible for managing the Windsor estate, which spans nearly 16,000 acres (6,500 hectares) and includes parkland and ancient woodland, as well as the Ascot racecourse. The total value of the crown estate’s properties was estimated at £15.6bn in the most recent annual accounts.

[From The Guardian]

I genuinely don’t understand the financial skullduggery here. The crown estate apparently didn’t need government approval to negotiate these windfarm contracts (with a BP subsidiary and a German firm), and then when the profits come rolling in, “the king receives 25% of the crown estate’s annual surplus.” That’s the part I don’t get, how the money was originally supposed to be allocated and what is considered “surplus.” I get that Charles is now saying “the profits should be shared with the wider public” (conveniently, he doesn’t have a plan for that) but I don’t get what kind of money was already coming to Charles? Now, I understand that the financial side of the monarchy was always meant to be confusing and infuriating – maybe this windfarm issue will actually highlight how f–king weird it is that the Windsors’ finances are always so secretive, and why trying to follow any thread about the Windsors’ finances is like trying to navigate a Byzantine maze.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Instar.

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33 Responses to “King Charles wants the crown estate’s windfarm profits to benefit the public…?”

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  1. equality says:

    How nice of him to let the public have their own money.

    • B says:

      Exactly! He is trying to get credit for “donating to the public”. The money isn’t his and already belongs to the public.

  2. NotTheOne says:

    I am always shocked at the royals finances and how much they get away with because they are “royal”. Does this continue because people aren’t aware of it in the UK? Or because it’s status quo?

    It reminds me of those old laws and regulations that come up from time to time that people didn’t know existed (or were still on the books). Like women not being able to have credit cards. Most people today are completely shocked that wasn’t that long ago.

    • Still In My Robe says:

      @Nottheone Right?! My parents married in 1978. The banks immediately switched my mom’s credit cards to make my dad, who made only 2/3rds of what my mom did, the account holder. I remember the very specific conversation in the ‘90s (the nineties!!) when my parents were working to get my mom a credit card in her own name (as in, she was the sole account holder). My dad explained to me that it was really important that if anything ever happened to my dad, that my mom have enough credit history to be able to make purchases via credit card on her own, have a mortgage, etc.

      The nineties. Never forget, ladies.

      • Moxylady says:

        I joined a credit union with Mr Moxy in 2010. In Princeton NJ. Only he was allowed to be the main name on the account. And getting it changed was so hard. Like we had to go together in person to the credit union multiple times to sign so much paper work just for me to be on as an equal. And then it didn’t change. And after calling about it multiple times the answer was just – there can only be one primary account holder and it’s your husband and can’t be you. 2010 ladies. Remember and make sure that you have access to your money and have a solid credit score.

  3. SussexFan says:

    Like the mafia squirreling profits. You know he didn’t have to say jack about this. Think he’s trying to get ahead of something?

  4. C-Shell says:

    Still working on my post-concussion syndrome, and I think this broke my mind. Byzantine mazes are not in my wheelhouse at the moment. If some awesome person could explain this like I’m five, I would be so appreciative.

  5. EBS says:

    OK so essentially George III gave the Crown Estate to Parliament in 1760 in exchange for not having to pay for the costs of governing the state any more, and a percentage of the money, which was known for centuries as the Civil List.

    In 2011, Parliament passed the Sovereign Grant Act 2011, which provides income to the monarch at a value indexed as a percentage of the revenues (not the surplus, all the revenues) from the Crown Estate and other revenues in the financial year two years earlier. It was originally set at 15% but is now 25%, to include the 10% that is for the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace.

    The wind farm deal would benefit the royals to the tune of an extra £250m, so almost double the existing £312m. Charles is just “giving” us what is already ours, and he’s giving £250m, not £1billion.

    (I will say that the Crown Estate is professionally managed and works well – we should just be given all of its revenues, not just 75% of them).

    • Chloe says:

      So currently the royals get £312m in profit from the crown estate? And this scheme will give them £250m more?

      How much money does the government AkA the taxpayer get then?

      • EBS says:

        Sorry, I was unclear. The total revenues for the Crown Estate as a whole in the 2021-22 year were £312.7m. A straight up 25% of that is £78.17m which is what the royals should get (I am not sure where the £86.3m figure comes from). If the wind deal would produce £1b of revenues in total, the royals would under the present arrangement see £250m of that, although it would likely not all come in in the same financial year. The Treasury (taxpayer) should receive the remaining 75% of revenues, around £234m in a normal year or more with the wind farm windfall.

      • Becks1 says:

        So these windfarms could potentially bring in an extra 250 million for the sovereign grant (the article says the 1 billion is annual, but I guess we’ll see) and Charles is saying……well it should be used for the greater good.

        My guess is the next thing we’ll hear is that supporting the monarchy IS “the greater good.”

      • EBS says:

        @Becks, I think even Charles realises how bad that would look.

  6. Brassy Rebel says:

    I am fascinated by how the monarchy is so deeply involved in the real estate business. It’s not just the royal properties but the properties in the West End as well as “farmland, offices, and retail parks from Southampton to Newcastle”. This alone should be investigated. If only Great Britain had an actual media capable of doing some investigative reporting. Now they’re into off shore wind farming too. All without oversight apparently.

    • SomeChick says:

      They need to start letting those people buy the houses they’ve been renting on the estates.

      • Brassy Rebel says:

        I saw that Charles wouldn’t agree to that. He’s gotta keep that rent income flowing into his accounts.

  7. Lizzie says:

    “I genuinely don’t understand the financial skullduggery here.” That is by design. The majority of comments I’ve seen over the years on the df claim the royals are a huge bargain considering all of the tourism they bring in. They throw out something like royal family cost 1.50 £/year/person with no backup on how they got to that figure.

    • Mary Pester says:

      Exactly, it’s just more smoke and mirrors. Treat the public like mushrooms, ie keep them in the dark and feed them bull sht. They are still behaving like feudal landlords and think everything in the UK is theirs to treat as their own. Suitcases and bags of cash being handed to them by foreign powers and its always “we know nothing about this”, well YES THEY DO, because it was handed to Charles himself. They are giving NOTHING to the greater good of the UK public, this is money that should have been ours in the first place
      Let’s see your tax returns chuckles, and if your able to give this much money away, WHY are you still taking from us

  8. Constance says:

    But Harry’s was too expensive , she would have put their finances completely put of wack…

  9. HeyKay says:

    What a shady bunch. Charles trying to make himself look good again.
    Put ya money up.

  10. Annalise says:

    £86 million a year sure is a lot to give to ONE family, to NOT have any real power.
    I personally think they should use the revenue from ticket sales for Palace tours, rather than the Sovereign Grant, for Palace upkeep. Last year, ticket sales revenue was £50 million, plus £20 million from gift shop sales. I think it would make PERFECT sense to do that, instead of burdening the taxpayer to fix up other people’s castles. Currently, ticket and gift shop revenue is mostly used to “maintain” King Charles’ art collection. So they’ve got £86 million going to ONE family whose duties amount to little more than waving from a balcony. And then theyve got ANOTHER £70 million to “maintain” that one family’s art collection. (KC insists that the art only be dusted by art historians with dusters made from rare eiderdown duck feathers. VERY expensive! Hence the £70 mil needed…… J/K! KC doesn’t do that ha ha)
    In a country whose economy is in the shitter.

  11. Jay says:

    Why do I feel like Charles thinks that the “greater public good” will be served by using this money to renovate the “public” royal residences or funding overseas “goodwill” tours?

  12. Mina_Esq says:

    Also Charles to his younger son, “we can’t afford to feed your new wife, she must keep her job”.

  13. Milo's Mom says:

    Fake PR to make him look good. It was decided in 2022 that the money would go to the public finances. It was not Charles’ decision to make.

  14. Rnot says:

    This story might have helped his PR a few years ago but I think drawing attention to the situation is going to backfire spectacularly. People being prompted to look more closely at the funding of the monarchy, during a cost of living crisis? That seems… poorly advised.

  15. Feebee says:

    If the public purse pays for the maintenance costs of the Crown Estate ie BP then how do the income / profits go solely into the Royal accounts? Or did I read it wrong?

    • EBS says:

      Ok I was only just skimming but I swear there was a line in the full accounts that said the wind was worth £4 billion or thereabouts. Proper journalists, I know you read CB, how about investigating?

  16. The Recluse says:

    I am waiting for the day when the taxpayers over there start demanding transparency.
    Charles may end up being Charles the Last.