Crown Estate

The Crown Estate is a collection of lands and holdings in the territories of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom belonging to the British monarch as a corporation sole, making it "the sovereign's public estate", which is neither government property nor part of the monarch's private estate.[2][3][4][5]

Crown Estate
IndustryProperty management
FounderGeorge III
HeadquartersSt James's Market
London, SW1
Key people
Robin Budenberg (Chairman)
Dan Labbad (Chief Executive)
ProductsProperty, residential, seabed management, real estate services, offices, and shopping centres
Revenue £1.9 billion (2018)
£329.4 million (2018)[1]
75% to HM Treasury
25% to The Monarch
AUM £14.3 billion (2018)
OwnerQueen Elizabeth II
(in right of The Crown)
Number of employees

The sovereign is not involved with the management or administration of the estate, and exercises only very limited control of its affairs.[6] Instead, the estate's extensive portfolio is overseen by a semi-independent, incorporated public body headed by the Crown Estate Commissioners, who exercise "the powers of ownership" of the estate, although they are not "owners in their own right".[2] The revenues from these hereditary possessions have been placed by the monarch at the disposition of Her Majesty's Government in exchange for relief from the responsibility to fund the Civil Government.[7] These revenues thus proceed directly to Her Majesty's Treasury, for the benefit of the British nation.[2][8][9] The Crown Estate is formally accountable to the Parliament of the United Kingdom,[10] where it is legally mandated to make an annual report to the sovereign, a copy of which is forwarded to the House of Commons.[6] In Scotland, the Crown Estate is managed by Crown Estate Scotland, a body formed in 2016.[11]

The Crown Estate is one of the largest property managers in the United Kingdom, administering property worth £14.1 billion,[12] with urban properties valued at £9.1 billion[13] representing the majority of the estate by value. These include many properties in central London, but the estate also controls 7,920 km2 of agricultural land and forest and more than half of the UK's foreshore, and retains various other traditional holdings and rights, including Ascot Racecourse and Windsor Great Park.[14] (While Windsor Home Park is also part of the Crown Estate, occupied royal palaces, such as Windsor Castle itself, are not part of the Crown Estate, but are managed through the Royal Household.[15]) Naturally occurring gold and silver in the UK, collectively known as "Mines Royal", are managed by the Crown Estate and leased to mining operators.[16][17]

Historically, Crown Estate properties were administered by the reigning monarch to help fund the business of governing the country. However, in 1760, George III surrendered control over the Estate's revenues to the Treasury,[5] thus relieving him of the responsibility of paying for the costs of the civil service, defence costs, the national debt, and his own personal debts. In return, he received an annual grant known as the Civil List. By tradition, each subsequent monarch agreed to this arrangement upon his or her accession. However, from 1 April 2012, under the terms of the Sovereign Grant Act 2011 (SSG), the Civil List was abolished and the monarch was thenceforth provided with a stable source of revenue indexed to a percentage of the Crown Estate's annual net income (currently set at 25%).[18] This was intended to provide a long-term solution and remove the politically sensitive issue of Parliament having to debate the Civil List allowance every ten years. Subsequently, the Sovereign Grant Act allows for all future monarchs to simply extend these provisions for their reigns by Order in Council.[3] The act does not imply any legal change in the nature of the estate's ownership, but is simply a benchmark by which the sovereign grant is set as a grant by Parliament.