Should the Queen be held responsible for hiding her wealth in an offshore fund?

Featured image via M.Zhu on Flickr.

When the Panama Papers were leaked last year, they shone a light onto a shady world of tax avoidance (or evasion?) for the super-rich. Recently, a new set of 13.4million private documents, called the ‘Paradise Papers’ have brought the issue once again to public debate. Much of the leaked Paradise Papers come from one company, Appleby, which specialises in offshore accounts. Those caught up in the scandal of offshoring money for tax reasons include stars of the sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys, The Prince of Wales, Lord Ashcroft, Apple, and various North American politicians. But today I want to focus on one actor – the Queen – whose financial and public arrangements have warranted a confused response from much of the public.

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Who owns the Duchy of Lancaster?

The Duchy of Lancaster, unlike the Crown Estate, is legally owned by the reigning monarch as part of the job. This means that if they were to abdicate or the institution of the monarchy were abolished, it would no longer be their property. So how did this come into being? Why is it separate from the Crown Estate? Answer to these questions, and more, below.

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Does the monarchy unite or divide us?

A society can be divided when it cannot decide collectively on the direction it wants to go. Within the UK, Northern Ireland has been one of the more divisive regions, with divisions being formed along religious, political, monarchism/republicanism and community lines. This division turned into violence, with harrowing consequences. In some countries, democracy is seen as a mob that is self-interested and imposes a tyranny of the majority without establishing a consensus. However, in a mature democracy like the UK, clear wins in elections are accepted as creating a mandate for whatever action the majority voted for, and there is a consensus that minorities should be protected by their elected representatives.

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