The fortune of Queen Elizabeth II, often referred to as one of the world’s richest women, has been kept secret as well as her last will and will outlining how her fortune will be distributed after her death in Scotland on Thursday.
British ownership as a brand was valued at about US$88 billion in 2017 by valuation consultancy Brand Finance, with the Queen’s personal fortune from investments, arts, jewelry and real estate estimated by Forbes at US$500 million.
Historically, the will of the king has remained private with other members of the royal family.
The Sunday Times Rich List calculated the late Queen’s fortune at £340 million in 2015, and the British sovereign’s main source of personal funds was the Duchy of Lancaster.
It is the sovereign’s private property, existing only to give the ruling monarch an income: in the fiscal year ending March 31 it was worth about 652 million pounds and produced a net surplus of 24 million pounds.
According to ‘The Times’, since it is an inalienable asset of the Crown, it will not even appear in the Queen’s will and simply pass from Sovereign to Sovereign, without paying any tax.
The paper notes that there is no inheritance tax responsible for the Queen’s personal fortune due to a deal struck in 1993 with the then-John Major government in which the Queen agreed for the first time to pay income tax.
As part of that agreement, it was stipulated that sovereign wills would be exempt from inheritance tax.
The Treasury’s Memorandum of Understanding on Royal Taxation, written in 2013, states: “The reasons for not taxing assets that pass to the next sovereign is that private assets such as Sandringham and Balmoral have an official as well as private use and that property as an institution needs resources private enough to enable it to continue to perform its traditional role in national life, and to have a degree of financial independence from the present government.” The court was told during a legal battle over the will of Princess Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister, that “the main reason and purpose of the royal wills seal is to protect the privacy of the king”.
Also, for technical legal reasons – because the late king was the source of legal authority – her will does not have to be published like the others.
However, many of the sources of her wealth – palaces, crown jewels, artwork – do not fall into the category of her private property but are held in trust for future generations and will simply pass on to the king.
Earlier on Saturday, Queen Elizabeth II’s son and heir, King Charles III, reaffirmed the tradition of handing over all royal revenue from the Crown to the nation, in exchange for the sovereign grant that covers the costs of the UK royal family.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by the NDTV crew and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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