King Charles should 'hang his head in shame' over £80m funding boost

King Charles is expected to get an £80m increase in taxpayer funding over two years.

Britain's King Charles III and Britain's Queen Camilla meet livestock and their owners at Theatr Brycheiniog on July 20, 2023 in Brecon, south Wales. Their Majesties The King and Queen will meet members of the local community and celebrate the local volunteering and public service sector at Theatr Brycheiniog. (Photo by JOANN RANDLES / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JOANN RANDLES/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
King Charles and Camilla visited Wales ahead of the announcement regarding royal finances. (Getty Images) (JOANN RANDLES via Getty Images)

What's happening? Depending on what you've read, King Charles either seems to be getting a pay cut or a pay rise.

It's all down to a change in the Sovereign Grant - the annual funding mechanism that covers the work of the Royal Family in support of the King.

Since 2012, the grant’s amount has been tied to the profits generated by the Crown Estate. Despite the name, Charles only "owns" the estate in his capacity as monarch rather than as a private individual, so while he holds it for the duration of his reign, he isn’t able to spend the profits, or sell any of its assets.

The independently run Crown Estate has surrendered its profits to the treasury since 1760 and, in return, the monarch has received funding from the government.

This year, the Crown Estate has generated a large increase in profit by leasing six new wind farms offshore — this would usually mean the royal's funding would increase.

However, the amount they will be given by the taxpayer is to remain the same for the next two years. After that, they will receive an increase of nearly £40m, which some estimate will rise again the following year, because the profits of the estate are expected to keep rising.

In his first Christmas message as monarch last year, Charles expressed concern about the cost-of-living crisis. Coupled with the recent background of strikes and financial hardship faced by many across the UK, the finances of the royals are under even more scrutiny than usual.

Yahoo News UK breaks down why some people are angry about the upcoming increase of funding to the Royal Family, and just how much they are going to receive.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 10: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales reads the Queen's speech next to her Imperial State Crown in the House of Lords Chamber, during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster on May 10, 2022 in London, England. The State Opening of Parliament formally marks the beginning of the new session of Parliament. It includes Queen's Speech, prepared for her to read from the throne, by her government outlining its plans for new laws being brought forward in the coming parliamentary year. This year the speech will be read by the Prince of Wales as HM The Queen will miss the event due to ongoing mobility issues. (Photo by Alastair Grant - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Charles at the state opening of parliament last year, representing the Queen Elizabeth who was unable to attend due to mobility issues. (Getty Images) (Getty Images)

What is the Sovereign Grant and how much is it?

The Sovereign Grant is the public money given by the Government to the Royal Family for their official duties and to maintain the royal palaces. It replaced the old system — which was called the 'Civil List' and three other grants — in 2012.

The grant is calculated from the profits made by the Crown Estate and pegged to whatever this amount comes to annually.

Initially it was set at 15% of the estate's profits, but because Buckingham Palace is currently undergoing a decade-long phased refurbishment programme, there has been a temporary uplift to 25% in recent years.

This week it was announced that the percentage for the next four years that the royals receive will be cut to 12% - however, the actual amount of money they receive will, at least for the next two years, stay the same at £86.4m.

But the Crown Estate's profits are projected to increase - so even if the percentage they receive is lower at 12%, the monetary value of this could go up by nearly £40m in 2025 and 2026.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: King Charles III and Queen Camilla wave as they watch the fly-past on the Buckingham Palace balcony during Trooping the Colour on June 17, 2023 in London, England. Trooping the Colour is a traditional parade held to mark the British Sovereign's official birthday. It will be the first Trooping the Colour held for King Charles III since he ascended to the throne. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla on the Buckingham Palace balcony at Trooping the Colour, the King and Queen have yet to move into the palace as it is undergoing refurbishment. (Getty Images) (Chris Jackson via Getty Images)

Charles 'should hang his head in shame'

While Charles and his family are initially going to receive the same amount of money they did last year - and many have presented this as a pay cut to the royals in favour of the money going to public services - in the long run they are set to receive more taxpayer funding.

The government said the change meant they had "reduced the proportion of Crown Estate profits used to calculate the Sovereign Grant".

Graham Smith, the chief executive of anti-monarchy group Republic, accused the government of "appalling dishonesty".

"The palace and government are guilty of appalling dishonesty, trying to spin an expected huge funding increase as a cut," he told Yahoo. "How can we add tens of millions of pounds to Charles’s budget when we’re told there must be a cap on child support, when schools are struggling to make ends meet?

"When nurses are fighting for a decent pay rise Charles digs his hands deeper into our pockets. He should hang his head in shame at this grab for money and the dishonesty of suggesting it’s a cut."

BRECON, WALES - JULY 20: Queen Camilla and King Charles III during Brecknock Agricultural Society’s annual show in a field next to Theatr Brycheiniog, on July 20, 2023 in Brecon, Wales. Theatr Brycheiniog was officially opened by The King, as The Prince of Wales, on 29th July 1997. It is Mid Wales’ principal space for theatre, the arts, and culture, featuring a 470-seat auditorium. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
King Charles expressed his desire for the windfall profit to go to the 'wider public good' earlier in the year. (Getty Images) (Chris Jackson via Getty Images)

Charles' focus on 'wider public good'

The Crown Estate's profits have increased this year because of a £1bn-per-year series of six off-shore wind farm lease deals, which was announced in January.

At the time, a statement was released by Buckingham Palace that revealed King Charles wanted the extra profits from the wind farms to go to "the wider public good", rather than increasing the sum the Royal Family receives in line with the windfall.

"In view of the offshore energy windfall, the keeper of the privy purse has written to the prime minister and chancellor to share the King's wish that this windfall be directed for wider public good, rather than to the Sovereign Grant, through an appropriate reduction in the proportion of Crown Estate surplus that funds the Sovereign Grant," the statement read.

Some criticised the statement at the time, because while that may have been Charles's wish, it isn't his decision to make — it's the prime minister, the keeper of the Privy Purse and the Chancellor who decide the final amounts in their capacity as royal trustees of the grant.