We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s death. King Charles will want people to think that he’s still grieving (he’s not) and that the changing of the guards was seamless and there were not many changes made. Unfortunately, the numbers show a different story: King Charles is a landlord and one of the first things he did was raise the rents. That has meant a windfall for the Duchy of Lancaster, a real-estate conglomerate solely owned by the monarch.
Rents in the United Kingdom are rising at a record pace, a trend that helped the nation’s most famous landlord, King Charles III, make a big payday. Charles received 26.2 million pounds, or about $34.3 million, this year from his vast property empire, known as the Duchy of Lancaster. Charles inherited the estate when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died last fall.
The 45,000-acre estate is roughly the size of Washington D.C. and generates millions of dollars a year in rental income, without paying corporation taxes like most businesses in Britain are obliged to. (Charles voluntarily pays an undisclosed amount of tax on his private income).
The Duchy recently published its first records since Charles took the throne. They show that he has weathered the financial woes faced by his nation, raking in a bigger private income than his mother ever did. Those profits came in part thanks to increased rents on tenants living on royal land. The Duchy also saw increased earnings from commercial properties.
Charles’s private income from the Duchy was £26.2 million, about £2 million more than his mother last made. Charles has fewer family members to support than his mother did. This money is separate from the annual £86 million (around $112 million) taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant, which pays for most official royal expenses.
Records show that the Duchy raised rents by 3 percent over the last fiscal year, which is just below the pace of private rental increases that have contributed to a cost-of-living crisis. Private rents are increasing at their fastest rate on record across the United Kingdom, though the official figures only go back to 2016. The Duchy’s rent hikes accounted for an extra £8.2 million for the royal coffers. The Duchy said that “refurbishment and restoration” had led to “improved rental values.”
This was one of the shadiest royal articles I’ve ever read in the Times. The Times emphasized that the Duchy raised the rents in a time of widespread financial hardship for the country, in a time of falling wages and rising food costs. The Times also pointed out that while Charles promised a “slimmed down monarchy,” the Duchy of Lancaster has been on a spending spree. The Duchy’s operating costs have increased, and the chief executive of the Duchy gave himself a pay raise – he’s now making £275,000.
Not only all of that, but Charles has also leased royal land commercially for “royal windfarms,” and it’s been a huge financial success, generating record profits for the Crown Estate. The government isn’t going to let Charles have those profits though – the Sovereign Grant will remain the same, but it will be effectively a “lower percentage” of the Crown Estate’s profits. They had to recalculate the formula so Charles, already a billionaire landlord who raised rents on his tenets, wouldn’t also benefit from the windfarm scheme.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.