Row over King renting out home given to him by late Queen

King Charles: Protesters chant ‘not my King’

A row has broken out after it emerged King Charles was privately renting out a property given to his mother during her reign – according to reports. The elegant Edinburgh property was managed by the UK government after being given to the Queen in 1953 by its previous owner. The Georgian House in Edinburgh New Town was divided into two flats that are now being rented out to tenants at full market rate.

Property records for the property show that in early 1954 it was registered as being held by a government department “as the minister of the crown… for and on behalf of her majesty and her royal successors”, meaning it was considered an official gift to the Queen.

The Guardian alleged that government papers have shown the property being treated as a state-owned building for decades, being used as “grace and favour” homes for dignitaries and employees of the royal household.

But the government stopped taking responsibility for “grace and favour” properties and handed them back to Buckingham Palace who handle the maintenance and management of the homes.

The building needed upgrading work, with conversations about who should fund the work happening amongst government officials.

Officials in the then Department of the Environment had offered the royal family a payment of £6,000, equivalent to more than £11,000 at today’s prices, in lieu of the incomplete modernisation work.

In August 1995, government papers showed that civil servants questioned the arrangement, saying “it would be asking for trouble” if the government funded the renovations “doubly so as the house might be regarded as the Queen’s own property”.

After the property was handed over to Buckingham Palace, civil servants believed the property would be paid for by the royal household.

The apartments, estimated to be worth between £1.5m and £1.8m, became part of the Queen’s private estate and is held by Canup Ltd – the company that owns the King’s lands and houses at Balmoral and Delnadamph in the Scottish Highlands on his behalf.

One user wrote on Twitter that it “hardly seemed fair” that the homes were rented out at full market rate to tenants. Another said: “Their greed never ceases to amaze me”.

A third added: “The article makes it clear that it was handed over to the royal household by the government in the 1990s – by all means criticise 1990s MPs and civil servants for doing so, but it seems a bit much to hold the King responsible for that decision.”

A palace spokesperson said: “In the 1990s, at the request of the Department of the Environment, the property was handed back to the queen who took on the responsibility for its maintenance and upkeep privately.”

The palace spokesperson did not comment on whether the queen had known its previous owner.

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Andy Wightman, a Scottish land reform expert and former Scottish Green party MSP, said the house seemed to have been a publicly owned asset used to help the Royal Family’s employees or people associated with the Firm.

“Since the property is now being rented out on a commercial basis as part of the King’s personal property portfolio, this historic understanding no longer has any validity,” he said. “The king should pay a market price for the property to the government.”

The palace’s policy on official gifts states that they “are not the private property of the member of the royal family who receives them.”

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