Wealthiest Woman In Britain Tries To Get Poverty Funds

Apparently, riding in a gilded carriage with footmen does not preclude one from seeking welfare funds in the United Kingdom.

Once again, the United Kingdom proves that breaking away from the British Crown was the smartest thing the United States ever did:

The Queen asked ministers for a poverty handout to help heat her palaces but was rebuffed because they feared it would be a public relations disaster, documents disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

Royal aides were told that the £60m worth of energy-saving grants were aimed at families on low incomes and if the money was given to Buckingham Palace instead of housing associations or hospitals it could lead to “adverse publicity” for the Queen and the Government.

Aides complained to ministers in 2004 that the Queen’s gas and electricity bills, which had increased by 50 per cent that year, stood at more than £1m a year and had become “untenable”.

The Royal Household also complained that the £15m government grant to maintain the Queen’s palaces was inadequate.

In search of more money-saving schemes, the Queen’s deputy treasurer wrote to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to ask whether the Royal Household would be eligible for a grant to replace four combined heat and power (CHP) units at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

He asked: “Community Energy can fund up to 40 per cent of the capital costs of implementing a community heating scheme… Since we are already grant-in-aid funded [the Queen receives £15m a year for the upkeep of her palaces] we would like to know whether the Household [would] be able to benefit from these grants. I look forward to your comments.”

Under this scheme administered by the Environment department, schools, hospitals, councils and housing associations have been awarded £60m for heating programmes which benefit people on low incomes.

Taxpayers already contribute £38m to pay for the Royal Family. Yet some of the buildings which would have benefited from the energy grant were occupied by minor royals living in grace and favour accommodation on the royal estates. Surprisingly the Government offered no resistance to the proposed application and cleared the way for the Queen to take advantage of the handout.

But by August 2004 the documents show that Whitehall officials had changed their minds and poured cold water on the whole idea. In an email sent to the Palace it was diplomatically explained that the funds were aimed at people on “low incomes”.

Gee, do you think ?

Perhaps a British reader can explain to me why the taxpayers sit back any subsidize a family that doesn’t really seem to have anything to do other than cut ribbons and wave. Because I just don’t get it.

Then again, if they had to get real jobs I suppose most of them would be in a bit of a bad spot, wouldn’t they ?

FILED UNDER: Environment, Europe, World Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. john personna says:

    Is it to pay heating, or for “energy saving” through improved efficiency?  If it is the latter, it is a net win on the budget.

  2. Vast Variety says:

    It’s hard for a people to give up a tradition that is nearly a thousand years old.

  3. James Joyner says:

    The Royals are the UK’s top tourist attraction and perhaps their leading industry overall.

    If upgrading the energy efficiency of the palaces makes economic sense, then it should probably be funded from the Exchequer.  But not under poverty funds!

  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Because I just don’t get it.”

    If you want to retain an historic monarchy it costs a load of money. Like Jim I think the British monarchy is one of Britain’s major assets. If you want to do monarchy on the cheap and have them all riding around on bicycles that’s fine but since when has anyone regarded the Dutch monarchy as one of that country’s major assets? What’s wrong with the Monarchy seeking govt help to upgrade the energy efficiency of buildings that were put up in the 18th century and that actually belong to the country and where the Queen is no more than a tenant really. I fear there are many things you apparently “don’t get” Doug

  5. wr says:

    Thank God we don’t have anything like this here. We don’t have any Republican politicians who scream about the evils of government funding while sucking down millions in federal farm subsidies. Rich people sucking at the government tit could never happen in America, because Freedom!

  6. The headline refers to the UK’s wealthiest woman. But the article isn’t about J.K. Rowling at all. I feel cheated.

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Articles about the Queen of England who has zero authority here and nothing about Christopher Coates testimony before the U.S. Commission on civil rights.   Why Doug?  Are you protecting Obama?

  8. Tano says:

    The Royals are the UK’s top tourist attraction and perhaps their leading industry overall.

    I basically am in agreement with your on the fact that the Royals are a very positive factor in the economy, and retrofitting their homes with energy efficient modifications is probably a smart and economical thing to do. But your statement here strikes me as way off.
    A quick look at Wiki showed that all tourism in the UK accounted for 78 billion dollars out of an economy of 2.2 trillion. Thats about 3.5% by my math. And only a fraction of that would be due to the royals.

  9. JKB says:

    Sounds to me Great Britain needs a little welfare to work for the Royals to get them off the dole.  If the Queen is having trouble with increased energy costs, she might want to pin her son’s ears back and explain action and consequences to him.
    As for the tourist angle, it would be appropriate for the government to fund upgrades in tourist areas of the Royal properties.  Of course, only as long as the government recovers the cost from ticket fees before the Royals receive their tribute.

  10. danieloprey says:

    “The Royals are the UK’s top tourist attraction and perhaps their leading industry overall.”
    This made me laugh, we’re screwed, but not that screwed.

  11. wr says:

    Zels — Why don’t  you start your own blog? Then you could talk about all the things you care about and stop whining about how the folks at OTB don’t share your interests…

  12. If not understanding why the British people would want to subsidize the ostentatious lifestyle of a bunch of inbred welfare recipients makes me a philistine then, to borrow a phrase from another foe of the British Royal Family, make the most of it

  13. Dunk says:

    And to think, the Queen’s family is German, not English!