In Depth

Queen's record profit comes the day after Osborne's big cuts

Booming London property hands sovereign a windfall, but critics say 'loyal subjects' should get it

DEPENDING on your point of view, Her Majesty the Queen is either doing her bit for the British economy, or she's laughing all the way to the bank while the rest of the country slashes and cuts.

The Crown Estate, which owns property on the monarch's behalf, announced today that it had made a record profit in the year to March 31, thanks in part to the strong performance of its central London properties.

The 5.2 percent rise in profits from £240m to £252.6m means that the Queen will pocket a £37.9m payout in April 2014, up from £36.1m this year. The payout is pegged at 15 percent of the total by a 2012 law in which the Queen receives support from the taxpayer in what is known as the Sovereign Grant instead of being paid through the Civil List.

The rest of the profits will go to the Treasury, prompting Crown Estate chairman Stuart Hampson to spin the announcement the Queen's way. "We are proud that another record Crown Estate performance will again make a strong contribution to the nation's finances," he said.

The Daily Express is unimpressed, pointing out that the Crown Estate's disclosure comes the day after George Osborne announced plans for £11.5 billion of spending cuts. Thousands of public sector workers will lose their right to automatic pay rises following what The Guardian described as Osborne's latest "populist crackdown on welfare and public sector pay"

As one might expect, the Daily Telegraph takes a more equitable view of Her Majesty's windfall, noting that the Queen is benefiting from being green. The increase in profits, says the paper, was driven not just by its London properties such as Regent Street and  St James's, but also by "payments from energy companies to install wind farms and other offshore renewable energy projects on Britain's seabed".

The timing of the announcement is perhaps a little injudicious, and it certainly appears to have incensed some Express readers. "Disgusting!!" stormed one on the paper's website. "If she thought anything about 'her loyal subjects' she would refuse this increase in her benefits and give it to the people that are in real need of a pay rise."

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