Palace Denies Queen Elizabeth Blocked a Law to Stop Her Wealth from Being Revealed
Officials at Buckingham Palace have denied that Queen Elizabeth tried to influence legislation that would have revealed sources of her vast wealth more than 50 years ago.
Documents from 1973 have been unearthed that show how the monarch's personal lawyer met with British civil servants after a law was drafted that would have made her private share dealings public.
The Guardian revealed on Monday that there were a series of conversations between the Queen's lawyer Matthew Farrer and senior civil servants before the law was changed. The Trade and Industry department in then-Prime Minister Ted Heath's government was drafting a bill that aimed to "prevent investors from secretly building up significant stakes in listed companies by acquiring their shares through front companies or nominees," the newspaper explained.
In December 1973, a British Cabinet minister, Sir Geoffrey Howe, suggested inserting a new clause into the legislation granting the power to exempt companies used by "heads of state" from transparency measures.
A spokeswoman at Buckingham Palace denied claims that the Queen blocked the legislation that was proposed in 1973. She also denied claims that the Queen had effectively had an unrivaled position in lobbying for a change and that had been used by her courtiers.
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"Queen's Consent is a parliamentary process, with the role of sovereign purely formal. Consent is always granted by the monarch where requested by Government," a statement from the palace said. "Any assertion that the sovereign has blocked legislation is simply incorrect."
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"Whether Queen's Consent is required is decided by Parliament, independently from the Royal Household, in matters that would affect Crown interests," the statement continued. "If Consent is required, draft legislation is, by convention, put to the sovereign to grant solely on advice of ministers and as a matter of public record."
The Guardian said that the story came up as it investigated what it called "an arcane parliamentary procedure, known as Queen's consent, in which the Queen is consulted by politicians if laws are being proposed that might affect the private interests of the Crown."
The Queen began her 70th year on the throne on Saturday, when the anniversary of the death of her father King George VI's death was marked solemnly at home at Windsor Castle.
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It has always been notoriously difficult to pin down the Queen's exact wealth. As well as owning vast estates at Balmoral, Scotland, and Sandringham, Norfolk, she also had an unrivaled art collection and thoroughbred racehorses. The respected Sunday Times Rich List for 2020 valued her wealth at $480 million — down $27.5 million due to the stock market falling over that year.
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