-Written by Israel Afangideh-
As soon as Sussex announced their decision to step back from being senior members of the royal family, siting a need for financial independence, there were many reactions to the news.
But there were certain questions, no one was asking, namely: How much exactly were the Duke and Duchess of Sussex dependent on the Crown, how much did that affect their autonomy, and what has now changed.
Before we begin, it is Important to note the following:
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were formerly prohibited from earning ANY income, other than the income given to them by the Duchy of Cornwall, controlled by Harry’s father. And the money given to them through the Sovereign grant, dispersed to them by Harry’s grandmother.
Out of all the funds received from the crown, by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, 95% came from the Duchy of Cornwall, under the direction of the Prince of Wales. While the remaining 5% come from the Sovereign grant.
But where does that money come from? The oldest son of the current British monarch gains control of the Duchy of Cornwall, at birth. And so Prince Charles, Harry’s father, is the Duke of Cornwall, and controls the Duchy of Cornwall along with all of its Assets. As it turns out, these Assets are quite extensive, including 205.1 Square Miles of land, or 0.2% of land in the United Kingdom. These are farming, residential, or commercial properties, which are rented out, and bring constant revenue to the duchy. The Duchy also has special legal rights, and privileges. For example, the property of anyone who dies in the county of Cornwall, without any identifiable heirs, automatically becomes the property of the duchy of cornwall. And any company that is registered in cornwall, and then dissolved, forfeits its assets to the duchy of cornwall. It is some of this revenue that was being used to cover Harry and Meghan’s expenses.
Similarly, The Queen’s estate generates revenue from land and other assets, although much larger in scope.
All of these revenues from the Crown Estate are surrendered to the British government. Specifically, HM Treasury, (Her Majesty’s Treasury, sometimes referred to as The Exchequer, or The Treasury.) The British government department responsible for fiscal and economic policy in England.
From that money, a percentage, usually about 10-25% is given back to the Queen for her use in performing the duties she and the rest of the royal family is responsible for, and maintaining property and assets which belong to the royal family.
See the chart below:
So, for example, from 2017-2018, £329 million was surrendered by the Crown Estate, to the British Government, and subsequently. £82 million was given back to the Queen to cover the expenses of her office in 2019 .
And from 2018-2019, £343 million was surrendered by the Queen’s estate, and it has been announced that the sovereign grant for 2020-2021, will be £85 million.
Sussex has chosen, to no longer receive any money from this grant. Which covered 5% of their expenses. Or to receive any money from the Duchy of Cornwall, which covered the other 95% of their expenses.
As for travel expenses, the Sussexes have issued a statement saying:
“All travel arrangements undertaken by The Duke and Duchess in their private time have always been and will continue to be paid for privately and not by UK taxpayers.”
The only expenses of the Sussexes, which will still be covered by the Crown, are security expenses, which is mandated by the Home office. In addition to being mandatory, the government of the UK does not disclose the cost of security, as stated on its website:
“No breakdown of security costs is available as disclosure of such information could compromise the integrity of these arrangements and affect the security of the individuals protected. It is long established policy not to comment upon the protective security arrangements and their related costs for members of the Royal Family or their residences.”