Queen ‘lobbied for law change to hide royal wealth’ – 1970s letters exposed

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According to documents from the National Archives, the Queen’s own private lawyer, Matthew Farrer, lobbied the Government to make a change to an upcoming piece of legislation. Using a parliamentary procedure called the Queen’s consent, it is claimed Her Majesty stopped the publication of her true wealth after ministers included a clause in the Companies Bill, The Guardian newspaper claims in a new report. The Queen’s consent must be sought before any legislation is brought before Parliament when it relates to private interests of the Crown or may impact the royal prerogative.

Drawn up in 1973, the new clause granted the Government the power to exempt companies used by heads of state from new transparency measures.

The papers revealed Mr Farrer had met with civil servants at the then Department of Trade and Industry to discuss the proposed legislation, The Guardian reports.

Documents seen by the newspaper claim Mr Farrer spoke to a civil servant named CM Drukker, on November 9.

Mr Drukker wrote after the meeting: “I have spoken to Mr Farrer.

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“As I had recalled he – or rather, I think, his clients – are quite as concerned over the risk of disclosure to directors of a company as to shareholders and the general public.

“He justifies this not only because of the risk of inadvertent or indiscreet leaking to other people.”

Civil servants then informed ministers who drew up a proposal within a month.

The then-Trade Secretary, Geoffrey Howe, wrote to a fellow minister informing him solutions had been drawn up concerning the Companies Bill.

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Mr Howe added: “My department have discussed this solution with the legal advisers to the Queen.

“While they cannot of course commit themselves to using the suggested new facility, they accept that it is a perfectly reasonable solution to the problem which they face, and that they could not ask us to do more.

“I am therefore arranging that the necessary provisions should appear in the bill.”

The Guardian claimed this procedure allowed Her Majesty’s private shareholdings to be concealed until 2011 at the latest.

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The Queen’s own private wealth has never been disclosed, although the Royal Family has been clear how it is funded and how much it costs the taxpayer.

In 2012, the previous Civil List and the three Grants-in-Aid were replaced by the Sovereign Grant which is funded by the percentage profits of the Crown Estate.

This allows the Royal Household to be subject to the same audit scrutiny as other Government expenditure.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Queen told Express.co.uk: “Queen’s consent is a parliamentary process, with the role of sovereign purely formal.

“Consent is always granted by the monarch where requested by the Government.

“Whether Queen’s consent is required is decided by parliament, independently from the royal household, in matters that would affect crown interests, including personal property and personal interests of the monarch.

“If consent is required, draft legislation is, by convention, put to the sovereign to grant solely on advice of ministers and as a matter of public record.”

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