In some ways the duchy appears to be acting like a commercial machine rather than a quaint ancestral estate. Things were simpler when the Queen came to the throne in the early 1950s. For a start, profits were modest (£100,000 in 1952, compared with £19.2m in 2017) and the rules of the game clearer.
£100k in 1952 is around £8 million today. Sure, depends upon which inflation index you want to use. But not even noting that is idiocy, no?
If you take your investments offshore, don’t be surprised if eventually you sail into some choppy waters. A growing swell of criticism threatens to swamp the Queen’s financial vessel after the Paradise Papers revelation that the Duchy of Lancaster – her private estate – had invested more than £10m in the tax havens of Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
The MP Margaret Hodge, the former chair of the public accounts committee, said she was “pretty furious” with the Queen’s investment advisers for sullying her reputation, while John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has demanded that they give evidence to a public inquiry into offshore tax havens.
I have spent months investigating the duchy for a new book on the Queen’s wealth, and believe the public would expect the sovereign to act to the highest standards over her financial investments. The head of state must be beyond reproach.
Yes, OK, head of state beyond reproach. The head of state of the Caymans and Bermuda should not invest in a place she is head of state of?