Holiday lets boost Queen's coffers

The Queen earned more than £20m last year from her private Duchy of Lancaster estate '“ a portfolio of land, property and assets that includes three castles and a collection of up-market holiday lets in Yorkshire.
The Queen's income from her private Duchy of Lancaster estate has increased by almost a million poundsThe Queen's income from her private Duchy of Lancaster estate has increased by almost a million pounds
The Queen's income from her private Duchy of Lancaster estate has increased by almost a million pounds

The income was £1m up –around five per cent – on the previous 12 months, Royal accounts have revealed.

The net surplus from the proceeds is used to fund the Queen’s public and private activities.

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Nathan Thompson, chief executive and clerk of the Duchy Council, said the figures demonstrated “strong growth in almost all of our business sectors”.

He said: “The continued push on restoration and a more focused in-house approach to the management of our surveys has served us well this year and contributed significantly to further improving tenant relations, reducing voids and increasing efficiency.”

The Duchy of Lancaster has seen the value of its holdings increase by 2.9 per cent, rising from £518.7m to £533.8m.

It is the custodian of 45,000 acres across England and Wales, including urban developments, historic buildings, farmland and protected areas of scientific interest.

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Among these are 16,000 acres of the North and West Ridings known as the Yorkshire Survey. The land is centred on Goathland in the North York Moors, Pickering, Pontefract and Cloughton, near Scarborough.

The Goathland site, which covers around 10,000 acres, includes heather moorland used for grouse shooting and upland grazing by tenant farmers. The moors have been a filming location for the Harry Potter movies.

At Cloughton, the Duchy owns a restaurant, pubs and 34 houses, and at nearby Scalby it has converted cliff-top farm buildings into five-star holiday cottages managed by an in-house letting company.

It also owns Knaresborough, Pickering and Pontefract Castles, and the Stray, the 250-acre grassland in the centre of Harrogate – whose boundaries also take in a care home, a hotel and a school.

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The estate’s mineral interests include quarries in North Yorkshire, and a substantial part of the Lancashire coastline, although Blackpool promenade and the Mersey Docks were sold off during the 19th century.

Its urban assets are said to be “carefully monitored for asset management opportunities”.

The Duchy is not subject to corporation tax as it is not a separate legal entity for tax purposes, but the Queen voluntarily pays income tax on revenue she receives from the Duchy.

Last month, Royal accounts showed the Queen’s annual expenditure had risen by around 13 per cent as a decade-long programme of renovations began at Buckingham Palace.

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The taxpayer funds received by the monarchy to pay for official duties and other expenditure – the Sovereign Grant – rose from £42.8m to £45.7m, with payroll costs, travel and property maintenance all increasing compared with the previous year.

The Queen’s expenditure also rose from £41.9m to £47.4m, while there was a 16 per cent rise in the income generated by the royal household to supplement the Sovereign Grant.