By Randall Dicks
A criticism of monarchy which we have heard over and over through the years is that it is an expensive form of government. Decades ago, we compiled a list of the annual expenses of the European monarchies, and it is timely to repeat that exercise. We have listed the expenses not only of those same European monarchies, but also of those other monarchies which would provide relevant data to us. We have further expanded our earlier study by adding the expenses of several republics, although it has turned out that republics, through their embassies, have been much less willing to provide such information.
One might conclude from this information that any form of government is expensive, but it seems that monarchies are certainly no more expensive than republics. It should be noted that in nearly every case, there are questions as to whether some expenses are fairly attributed to one department or another. In some instances, for example, certain buildings are more public museums and only incidentally residences. There are also hidden expenses, buried within the budgets of departments which are not obviously concerned with the functioning of the head of state, and these caveats apply to both monarchies and republics, large and small.
Amounts are given in the currency of the nation concerned, with a total at the end of each section in U.S. dollars, according to the exchange rates in effect in New York City on January 20, 1997.
As provided by Article 77 of the Constitution and according to the law of November 16, 1993, the Civil List for the entire reign of H.M. King Albert II was established (subject to adjustments linked to the consumer price index), as well as a lifetime annuity for H.M. Dowager Queen Fabiola and an annual allowance for H.R.H. Prince Philippe.
The Civil List covers all personal expenses as well as clerical, administrative, office, staff and maintenance of royal palaces and official residences, travel, and entertainment. Security expenses are borne by the government.
Initial figures for 1996 budget are:
The King's Civil List 253,900,000 BEF
Queen Fabiola's annuity 46,900,000 BEF
Prince Philippe 13,900,000 BEF
Royal Family, other allowances 14,800,000 BEF
Total 329,500,000 Belgian Francs
(1972 survey: $1,485,220)
By contrast, the 1996 Budget allocations for the Prime Minister's Office total 116,000,000 BEF (other ministers receive separate allocations), and for the Belgian Parliament a total of 5,383,500,000 BEF.
Source: letter from Piettre Emmanuel De Bauw, Second Secretary, Belgian Embassy, July 29, 1996; Notice sur la Liste Civile du Roi. Letter from Vincent Pardoen, Intendant of the King's Civil List, September 3rd, 1996. Ministry of Finance Budget of November 24, 1995, as published in the Moniteur Belge, December 30, 1995, Federal Information Service, Brussels.
H.M. Queen Margrethe II 42.3 million Danish kroner
Other members Royal Family (Dowager Queen Ingrid, Crown Prince Frederik, Prince Joachim) 15.7 million Danish kroner
Total 58,000,000 Danish kroner
(1972 survey: $1,430,000)
Travel on state visits and police security: paid through other government agencies.
Major repairs and other upkeep of Royal Palaces/Castles: to be allocated as needed.
Source: Royal Danish Embassy, 1996 Government Budget
Public funds: 0
(1972 survey: $50,000)
"No public funds are allocated to the monarchy in Liechtenstein. All expenses of the monarchy for offices, travel, entertainment, security, and maintenance of the official residence are paid through the private funds of the Princely Family. Traditionally, the Reigning Princes have supported through centuries with their private funds projects which they thought were beneficial to the country and its population."
Source: Secretary to Prince Hans-Adam II, letter of April 24, 1996.
The Government used to reimburse 250,000 Francs for the Reigning Prince's expenses, but in recent years the Reigning Prince has waived this reimbursement (Liechtenstein Mission to the UN, letter of May 9, 1996).
For year 1995:
Civil List of the Grand Ducal House 32,184,000 FL
Additional funds for staff expenses 136,776,000 FL
Representation funds (official functions), Grand Duke 14,450,000 FL
Representation funds (official functions), Hereditary Grand Duke 3,620,000 FL
Grand Ducal House, buildings and maintenance 6,363,000 FL
Civil servants staff allocation 2,864,000 FL
Total Public Funds 196,257,000 Luxembourg Francs
Source: Letter dated September 16, 1996, T.H.A. Pescatore, Press and Information Service, Ministry of State.
1996 budget (includes administrative and technical services of Palace): 104,000,000 Francs, as follows:
H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince 47,000,000 FF
Household of H.S.H. the Prince 4,857,000 FF
Office of H.S.H. the Prince 12,073,000 FF
Archives and Library of Princely Palace 1,831,600 FF
Chancery of Princely Orders 670,000 FF
Palace 37,803,700 FF
TOTAL 104,000,000 French Francs
(This represents 3% of Principality's total budget of 3,415,000,000 Frances; in 1972, cost of the monarchy represented 2% of the annual budget)
Source: Jacqueline Berti, Director of Press Center of the Principality of Monaco, letter of 21 May 1996); Law No. 1179 of December 27, 1995.
1996 stipends (figure in parentheses indicates amount considered personal income)
Queen Beatrix 6.9 million guilders (1.2)
Prince Claus 1.3 million guilders (0.5)
Prince Willem-Alexander 1.6 million guilders (0.4)
Princess Juliana 1.8 million guilders (0.7)
Prince Bernhard 1.1 million guilders (0.3)
Total 12.7 million guilders (3.1)
(1972 survey: $650,000)
Members of the Royal House who are not on the civil list are maintained by the Queen. Security and maintenance of residences come under the budgets of the ministries involved.
Source: W.F.L. van Leeuwen, Netherlands Government Information Service, letter of June 3, 1996
1996 appanage to the King and Queen, NOK 22.8 million
1996 appanage to Crown Prince Haakon Magnus, NOK 130,000
1996 appanage to Princess Märtha Louise, NOK 100,000
Court Administration (the King's and Queen's staffs), NOK 12 million
Royal Castle Administration (daily operation and maintenance of Royal Castle (Oslo), Bygdø Royal Farm, and Oscarshall, which are owned by the State), NOK 20 million
1995 extra allocation for extraordinary building and restoration activities at the Royal castle, NOK 45 million
Total 55,030,000 Norwegian kroner
(1972 survey, appanages to King Olav V and Crown prince and Crown princess, $493,000)
Source: Press and Cultural Counselor, Royal Norwegian Embassy, letter of 21 May 1996.
Total allotment of 924 million pesetas; no amounts allocated directly to other members of the Royal Family. Under Article 65 of the Constitution, this amount is meant to provide for the Family and Household of the monarch.
Total 924,000,000 pesetas
Maintenance of palaces: by Patrimonio Nacional
Expenses of state visits abroad: covered by budget of Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Source: Chief of Press Relations, Zarzuela, letter of 21 April 1996.
H.M. The King 30 million Swedish Crowns
(This sum includes clerical, office, and administrative expenses, which account for about 70% of the total; travel and entertainment are also covered by this sum; security is paid for by the police.)
No other members of the Royal Family receive public funds.
Maintenance of the 10 Royal Palaces (not the property of the monarch): approximately 30 million Swedish Crowns
Royal Collections (maintenance and restoration of the interiors, furniture, art works, etc. at Royal Palaces): 11 million Swedish Crowns
Total 60,000,000 Swedish Crowns (approximate)
(1972 survey, allocations to King Gustaf VI Adolf, Crown prince Carl Gustaf, Princess Sibylla, and Prince Bertil: $900,000)
Source: Cecilia Wilmhardt, Information Officer, The Royal Palace, Stockholm.
The cost of the British monarchy has been the subject of the most intense public discussion and speculation, as well as the most widespread misinformation. This is a complex subject, as nearly every aspect of the "cost" of the British monarchy is rooted in centuries of historical usage, tradition, and sometimes arcane bureaucratic processes. Calculation of costs is further complicated by the fact that "the British monarchy" itself is sometimes delineated with difficulty, and one must constantly define "cost," "British," and "monarchy.". It may be argued that more than any other monarchy, it is more than the sum of its parts. The British monarchy is an integral, and large, institution of national society and identity. The monarch, other members of the Royal Family, the various Palaces and historic buildings, the Crown Jewels, gilt coaches, and other trappings, are icons of the United Kingdom, instantly and universally identifiable.
The monarchy derives its financial support from three basic sources, the Civil List, the Grant-in-Aid, and the Privy Purse, with additional funds voted by Government departments.
The Civil List: "The Civil List is the fixed annual sum provided by Parliament to meet the official expenses incurred by The Queen's Household so that Her Majesty can fulfill her role as Head of State. The Civil List is not in any sense remuneration or ‘pay' for The Queen. It is provided to meet those expenses necessarily incurred to enable The Queen to undertake her many public engagements and duties in [the United Kingdom] and abroad." Some 70% of the Civil List goes to salaries of personnel who work directly for The Queen; non-staff expenses include social functions (some 40,000 people are entertained by The Queen annually) and office expenses at Buckingham Palace. The amount of the Civil List is set by Parliament, and paid by the Government.
Under the current system, effective since 1991, Parliament sets a fixed annual amount for the Civil List for a ten-year period. "The fixed annual amount would exceed expenditures during the first part of the ten-year period, enabling reserves to be established to meet deficits toward the end of the period when, as a result of inflation, expenditures would be expected to exceed the fixed amount." The Civil List was set at £7.9 million to be paid annually for the ten-year period commencing January 1st, 1991, with an annual increase of approximately 6.5% to cover inflation.
Civil List expenditures for 1990, the latest year for which final figures are available, were £5,060,000. Surpluses are carried over from year to year as reserves; any surplus at the end of the current ten-year period will be applied to offset expenses of the Civil List in the following period.
Civil List for 1996 £7,900,000
The Grant-in-Aid is the funds provided by the Department of National Heritage for property services in the Royal or Occupied Palaces (Buckingham Palace, St. James's palace, Clarence House, Marlborough House Mews, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, Frogmore House, Hampton Court Mews and Paddocks; in total, some 100 buildings, 6,000 rooms, and 20 acres of roofs. (The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the responsibility of Historic Scotland; the Historic Royal Palaces or Unoccupied Palaces, including the Tower of London and Hampton Court, are looked after by the Historic Royal Palace Agency.)
The Occupied Palaces are used for Head of State and ceremonial purposes, and as official residences by The Queen, other members of the Royal Family, and employees. They also provide offices and workshops for staff and craftsmen. Approximately 75% of the funds are spent on property maintenance, and 25% on utilities, security, fire safety, craftsmen, cleaning, and gardening. "The Occupied Palaces are an important part of the national heritage and the largest part of the Grant-in-Aid is spent on their maintenance and conservation." The properties covered by the Grant-in-Aid are largely in the nature of museums, historic buildings, and monuments. The Grant-in-Aid does not apply to such properties as Sandringham or Balmoral, which are the property of The Queen personally.
Grant-in-Aid, 1994-95 £20,541,000
In 1991, the Royal Household assumed responsibility for property services in the Occupied Palaces, and considerable savings have been achieved. "The Royal Household plans to reduce the annual amount of the Grant-in-Aid to£15 million by the end of the decade. If this is achieved more than £70 million will have been saved, in real terms, since the Royal Household assumed responsibility..."
The Privy Purse derives its funding from the Duchy of Lancaster, income from Privy Purse retained reserves, and payments from the Sandringham Estate. Duchy of Lancaster net surplus for the year ended September, 1994 amounted to £3.9 million. "The funds received by the Privy Purse... [are] used to meet official expenditure incurred by The Queen as Sovereign which has not historically been charged to the Civil List, as well as some of The Queen's private expenditure." Such official expenditure includes providing for official expenses of other members of the Royal Family, pensions and welfare for official staff, and official costs incurred by the Royal Household when The Queen is in residence at Balmoral and Sandringham.
"Since 1399 [the landed estate known as the Duchy of Lancaster] passed to each reigning Monarch, with the Duchy revenue providing a source of income separate from other Crown inheritances." The Duchy estate is divided into surveys for management purposes:
- Crewe Survey, comprising 5,050 acres in Cheshire, Shropshire and Derbyshire
- Lancashire Survey, comprising 11,750 acres in the Fylde and in the Forest of Bowland
- Needwood Estate, 7,540 acres in Staffordshire
- Yorkshire Survey, comprising approximately 19,980 acres between Pickering and Scarborough
- South Survey, comprising approximately 6,450 acres in Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire
The Duchy also owns commercial properties in London and elsewhere, and other investments.
The Prince of Wales, as Heir to the Throne, receives no funds under the Civil List Acts, but, under an arrangement dating back seven centuries, receives the annual net revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall (he is 24th Duke of Cornwall, as Heir to the Throne; the title of Prince of Wales is not automatically conferred on the Heir) for the costs of all public and private commitments. Although these revenues of the Duchy are tax exempt, the Prince has voluntarily given up 25% of this income to the Exchequer. In 1993, at the same time as The Queen volunteered to pay income tax on her private income, the Prince of Wales volunteered to pay income tax on his Duchy income.
The Duchy currently owns approximately 130,000 acres of land in 23 counties. In 1994, the Prince of Wales received £4.5 million before tax from the Duchy of Cornwall.
Other Members of the Royal Family
Other members of the Royal Family have been paid Parliamentary Annuities from Government funds to meet official expenses incurred in carrying out public duties, under the Civil List Acts. Under the 1990 financial arrangements, the following annuities were set for the decade 1991-2000, with an annual increase of approximately 7.5% to cover inflation:
H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother £643,000
H.R.H. The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh £359,000
H.R.H. The Duke of York £249,000
H.R.H. The Prince Edward £96,000
H.R.H. The Princess Royal £228,000
H.R.H. The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon £219,000
H.R.H. Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester £87,000
H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester £175,000
H.R.H. The Duke of Kent £236,000
H.R.H. Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy £225,000
Since 1975, The Queen has reimbursed the Government for the annuities paid to her cousins, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, and Princess Alexandra. It was announced in late 1992 that, effective April 1993, The Queen would also reimburse the annuities for all other members of the Royal Family, except for H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and the Duke of Edinburgh. H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and the Duke of Edinburgh are now "the only members of the Royal Family other than The Queen in receipt of money from public funds which is not repaid."
The Prince of Wales receives no public funds. Diana, Princess of Wales and Sarah, Duchess of York received no public funds before or after their respective divorces.
Accordingly, the only public funds allocated to members of the Royal Family other than The Queen, which are not reimbursed by The Queen, are:
H.M. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, widow of H.M. King George VI £643,000
H.R.H. The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, consort of the present Monarch £359,000
"In addition to the Civil List and the Grant-in-Aid there are a number of other items of expenditure connected with the public activities of the Royal Family which fall on votes of Government departments," the main items being the Royal Train, No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron, and the Royal Yacht.
The Royal Train: "The Royal train makes efficient use of traveling time by allowing travel overnight. This not only increases the time available for public engagements... but by serving in effect as a mobile hotel for Members of the Royal Family and their staff, the Royal Train minimizes disruption to the general public and saves security costs."
No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron: No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron (formerly The Queen's Flight) is operated by the Royal Air Force, and consists of eleven aircraft and six helicopters, with personnel of 101. The Queen, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Prince of Wales are entitled to use it, and other members of the Royal Family at The Queen's discretion, as well as ministers, senior service officers, and occasionally by visiting foreign heads of state. "Use of The Queen's Flight enhances safety and security as well as minimizing disruption and inconvenience to other passengers on a civil flight," although The Queen has recently used commercial aircraft on overseas travel, and other members of the Royal Family frequently use commercial aircraft on international travel.
H.M.Y. Britannia: Commissioned in 1954, the Britannia "has provided a high profile, prestigious base for Royal tours both in home waters and overseas, [and] provides not only reception rooms for up to 250 guests but includes office space and accommodation for staff... In recent years Britannia has been used for seminars to promote British trade and technology overseas, often in conjunction with Royal visits." Britannia is to be decommissioned in late 1997; it was announced in January, 1997 that Parliament would allocate funds for the construction of a new royal yacht, with furnishings to be provided by The Queen. The new yacht is to enter into service in 2002, in time for the Queen's Golden Jubilee.
Other expenses borne on votes of Government departments on services connected with the Royal Family include the following; figures shown are the amounts for 1994-95, the latest ones available to us:
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps) £63,061
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office (overseas visits at the request of Government departments) £558,268
- Department of Transport (official travel by train and maintenance of Royal Train) £2,469,000
- Treasury (Central Chancery of Orders of Knighthood) £201,000
- Ministry of Defence (Royal Yacht) £11,424,000
- Ministry of Defence (No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron) £8,960,445
- Ministry of Defence (Royal flights in civil aircraft) £160,000
- Ministry of Defence (Equerries) £224,000
- Central Office of Information (publicity services) amount not available; £308,104 for 1993-94
Many of the Palaces and other properties involved in these expenditures are considered to be major tourist attractions, some are open to the public, most serve public or official functions, some provide residential units for staff, and many are considered to be important parts of the national heritage. Other expenses are collateral to the monarchy, for example in providing for the ceremonial occasions which have become a hallmark of British culture.
It should be noted particularly that the Civil List dates back to the Restoration, at which time an annual grant was made to The King which, in effect, was a Parliamentary contribution to help cover "expenses of Civil Government," including the judiciary and foreign service. "This system was changed in 1760 on George III's Accession, when it was decided that the whole of the cost of the Civil List should be provided by Parliament in return for the surrender of the hereditary revenues [(the Crown Estate)] by the King for the duration of the reign. This arrangement, whereby at the beginning of each reign the Sovereign agrees to continue the surrender of the hereditary revenues [£88.4 million in 1994] in return for the receipt of an annual Civil List, has continued to this day." The present system is for the annual amount of the Civil List to be fixed every ten years; it will thus be considered again in the year 2000.
Thus, if the revenues from the Crown Estate had not been surrendered to the Government at the start of the present Queen's reign in 1952, she would have received £88,400,000 in 1994. Instead, the total of the figures cited above (including even those which, in fairness, should not be attributed entirely as costs of the monarchy, such as No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron, which is not used exclusively by the Royal Family) is £53,810,878. Not all of the figures cited above apply to precisely the same time periods, but they are close, and show that revenues from the Crown Estate contribute about £30,000,000 more to Government coffers than the sums which are paid out in support of the monarchy.
A final note: Although all of The Queen's official expenses are covered by the Civil List or through other allocations, as well as those of other members of the Royal Family who perform official duties on The Queen's behalf, The Queen herself receives no public funds which are in the nature of "remuneration" or "salary" for her services to the nation.
Source: Press Office, Buckingham Palace, Royal Finances, First Edition 1993 and Second Edition 1995, from which quotations are taken. Britain's Monarchy, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, September 1995.
The only figure supplied pertains to Fiscal Year 1994.
Imperial Household ¥5, 285,000,000
This amount is the smallest allocation to any "agency" under the government's budget. By contrast, in Fiscal Year 1993 (when the allocation to the Imperial Household was ¥4,803,000,000), the Prime Minister's office was allocated ¥8,712,852,000,000. The allocation to the Imperial Household represents 6.6% of a total Fiscal Year 1993 budget of ¥72,354,824,000,000.
Source: Japan Information and Cultural Center, Embassy of Japan, Washington, D.C.
Public funds: KD 8 million
This includes all expenses of the Amir and Royal Family; allotments of members of the Royal Family within these emoluments are specified by an Amiri Decree.
Source: Law Decree No. 12/1978, Specifying Emoluments of the Head of the State.
"The information... are [sic] confidential."
Source: First Secretary (Information), Embassy of Malaysia, letter of May 1, 1996
Total public funds allocated to H.M. the King T$113,750
Total public funds allocated to other members of the Royal Family 34,980
Total public funds for clerical, office, and administrative expenses 106,095
Total funds for Palace staff and maintenance of Royal Residence 73,400
Total funds for travel, entertainment, and security 275,500
Other funds 25,000
Source: Private Secretary to H.M. The King, letter of May 20, 1996; 1995-96 Budget.
Funds allocated to H.M. The Queen: none.
Salary of the Governor-General, The Queen's representative in Australia A$95,000 (tax-exempt)
Governor-General's office and establishments, 1994-95 (salaries, administrative expenses, legal services, property operating expenses, Australian Honours insignia, building works, plant, and equipment, etc.) 9,604,314
Total, Governor-General A$9,699,314
Source: Letter, Official Secretary to the Governor-General, Government House, Canberra. Annual Report, 1994-95, Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General
Funds allocated to H.M. The Queen: none.
The Governor-General, The Queen's representative in Canada: salary, C$97.400
"Although the Governor-General is the highest-ranking public office holder in Canada, the salary is set at a lower level than the pre-tax level of other public figures in recognition of the fact that it is not subject to income tax. This tax-free status is in keeping with the long-standing tradition that the Crown does not tax monies it pays to itself."
(By contrast, the Prime Minister receives C$134,320 plus a tax-free allowance of $21,300)
Source: Public Information Directorate, Government House, Ottawa.
Antigua and Barbuda
Papua New Guinea
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
As is the case for Australia and Canada, in none of these independent monarchies of which H.M. Queen Elizabeth II is monarch and head of state, is there any Civil List, nor are any public funds allocated directly to the monarch. When The Queen visits one of the Realms in her capacity as monarch of that country, the Realm in question does bear the costs of the visit (that is, transportation and accommodation). Each of these countries does have a Governor-General, who serves as The Queen's representative when she herself is not present in the country, and each country does make budgetary allowances for the Governor-General and his or her office.
Source: Letter, October 1st, 1996, Assistant Press Secretary to H.M. The Queen.
Total cost of the ten European monarchies: US$164,401,014
Against this information, please see the related document, "The Expense of Presidencies".
1. Governor's Message, The Constantian, Vol. II, No. 3, October, 1972. Spain was not included in the 1972 survey.
2. Results of our 1972 survey are indicated, where possible, for the sake of interest. It should be remembered that these figures are 25 years old and show the dollar amount according to 1972 exchange rates. Inflationary factors in the country involved and also in the rate of exchange of the national currency against the U.S. dollar should be taken into account.
3. Total includes Royal castles Administration, but not one-time special allocations.
4. Data from our 1972 survey is not sufficiently comparable.