It’s been revealed that the Queen’s private estate has been holding millions of pounds worth of investments off-shore.
Information from a document leaked by Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm specialising in offshore accounts, shows that the Duchy of Lancaster (the private estate of the British monarch) has invested money in a Cayman islands off-shore portofolio.
The ‘Paradise Papers’ refers to the leak of 13.4million files by a collection of media who investigated the issue.
The documents show that in 2005, the Queen’s estate invested significant amounts of money (around £10 million) into businesses including off-license chain Threshers, and retailer BrightHouse, which sells furniture, appliances and technology on payment plans.
The Duchy has stated that the Queen and her estate received no financial tax benefit by storing the funds overseas, but the findings are still likely to encourage people to want more transparency about how the royals spend money.
The new information has also caused tension due to controversy surrounding the company BrightHouse. The company have been accused of aggressive selling tactics on vulnerable people, including those with mental health issues and learning disabilities in the past.
However, the Duchy has now stated that there was just £3,208 held in BrightHouse, and they were not aware that the investment was going directly to them.
Critics have also pointed out that Threshers went bust in 2009, still owing over £17.5 million in tax. And so the fact that the Queen holds these investments off-shore, is likely to spark questions.
Richard Palmer, royal correspondent for Daily Express, has suggested that many royal commentators believe the revelation is “not ideal” for the monarchy’s reputation.
However, a spokesperson for the Duchy of Lancaster has said, “We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds. All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate.
“The Queen voluntarily pays tax on any income she receives from the Duchy.”