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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Politics and History

The Cost of Royalty in 1856

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -
The Cost of Royalty in 1856There exists in Liverpool, England, a society of merchants called the Financial Reform Association, who make it their business to watch the expenditures of the Realm of Great Britain, and to note and expose extravagance or corruption in the use of the public revenues. The Association has from time to time published tracts in which the lavish waste of money by government has been shown up and retrenchment and reform loudly called for. The Society has recently issued a pamphlet with the ironical title of “The Royal Household, a Model of Parliament and the Nation.” In which the enormous expenses of the Royal family of England is set down for the thoughtful to ponder on. From this tract is appears that upon her accession to the throne, the Queen had the pleasure of giving her official sanction to an act of Parliament setting £385,000 a year – nearly $2,000,000 – upon herself for life. This was $50,000 more than was allowed her predecessor, William IV. At the same time the allowance of the Queen’s mother was increased from $110,000 to $150,000. Although the people grumbled at this extravagance, few members of Parliament dared to lift their voices against it. In the House of Lords, Lord Brougham boldly opposed the grant as excessive. All who spoke against the measure were roundly abused.

The statute which granted $2,000,000 pre annum to the Queen, with $50,000 per annum additional “for home secret service,” provided for the particular application of the money as follows: -

1. For Her Majesty’s privy purse $300,000;
2. For salaries of her household, $626,000;
3. Expenses of the household – that is what Paddy would call “the best eating and drinking,” - $862,500;
4. Royal bounty alms, and special services, $16,000;
5. Pensions to the extend of $6,000;
6. Unappropriated moneys, $40,200.

Although it was stipulated in the act that the Queen should surrender for her lifetime the hereditary revenues which her immediate predecessor have been possessed of, yet except the duties on beer, ale and cider; there was no relinquishment on these hereditary revenues, and she now draws from a civil list of Ireland, Scotland, the Duchy of Lancaster, etc., the modest sum of $1,415,000 in addition to the sum of $2,425,000 voted her by parliament making the annual income of $3,310,000! Beside this the Queen is heir to all persons without legal heirs who may die intestate in any part of her empire.

Another necessary expense for keeping up the “honor and dignity” of the crown is the income bestowed upon Prince Albert, the Queen’s husband. This was fixed by parliament at $150,000 yearly, and Her Majesty has heaped lucrative appointments which nearly doubles the amount. And there is a further sum of $550,000 for certain dukes, duchesses, etc.

The Queen also has the free use of various palaces, which are kept in repair at the public expense. The cost is by no means small, the appropriation for 1856 for, palaces, parks, gardens, &c., being $1,248,465. Add this to the actual income of the Queen and Prince Albert, and they will be found to receive as much as $5,888,466 every year, simply for personal and domestic expenditure and hoardings. Whenever the Queen travels by land the tolls at the turnpikes are remitted, and the Admiralty keep a steam yacht and provide her table when she takes an excursion upon the water.

In 1842 Sir Robert Peel announced that Victoria had “most graciously” determined to submit her income to the “income tax,” but there is no record of her having done so; when the Secretary of the Liverpool Association wrote to the Treasury Department making inquiries upon the subject, the reply was short and sharp – that they did not answer such questions, and that such information was to be obtained only through Parliament. The sum which the Queen would have had to pay during the war would have been $200,000.

We should think that such facts are these would make English people rather nervous, and that they would be led to enquire whether they are not paying a little too dear for the royal whistle. It is said to be the last feather that breaks the camel’s back. There is a rumor current in England that the Queen is about to apply to Parliament for a marriage dowry of $350,000 for the Princess Royal, a young miss of sixteen who is said to be engaged to the crown prince of Prussia. Perhaps this application, if made may lead the public to count the cost of royalty.


Colonial Expenditure And Government in 1848

A History of The British Secular Movement

Queen Victoria (1819-1901)

William IV

House of Lords

Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux