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Politics

No, Scotland Isn't About To Stop Paying For The Queen

You might have seen this story on the front pages.

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They claimed that Nicola Sturgeon's government intends to keep the profits raised by the "crown estate" in Scotland.

Part of the crown estate – a huge state-owned property portfolio historically associated with the monarch – is due to be devolved to the Scottish government in a new act which will come into force next year.

The story, which has been briefed to newspapers by a Buckingham Palace source, claims Scots will "grab the Queen's cash" by keeping the Scottish government's "contribution" to the royal revenue, the Scottish crown estate profits, which they say would amount to around £1.4 million.

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While there was nothing inherently problematic in newspapers reporting what Buckingham Palace sources told them, both the UK and Scottish governments insist the palace source is completely wrong. Cutting funding to the Queen would actually break the law, while the devolution of control of the crown estate can't legally reduce the amount of funding given to the Queen.

The crown estate pays its profits directly to the Treasury, and a percentage of those profits (15%) is used as a guide to work out how much the royal family should receive from the Treasury each year.

So the royal family isn't funded by revenue from the crown estate – it is funded by taxes paid to the Treasury by taxpayers throughout the United Kingdom. People in Scotland will continue to pay taxes to the UK Treasury, meaning taxes raised in Scotland will continue to go towards funding the royal family.

Although devolution of the crown estate could hit the 15% benchmark figure, that percentage is reviewed every four years to avoid any negative impact to the Queen's ultimate annual income.

Crucially, it is illegal, under the Sovereign Grant Act, to reduce the royal income year on year.

Additionally, the Smith Report – which outlines how further devolution to Scotland will work – has a "no detriment" agreement in it that says that whatever the Scottish government does with its new powers, it cannot cause people in the rest of the UK to end up paying proportionately more for things such as the royal family.

A Treasury spokesperson confirmed that devolution to Scotland will have zero impact on how much money Scottish taxpayers contribute to the royal family.

"Scottish taxpayers will continue to fund a full and fair share of the Sovereign Grant, paid via the Consolidated Fund," said the spokesperson. "The Grant will not be adversely affected by devolution – under the Sovereign Grant Act it cannot be reduced and the statutory review of the Grant will ensure that it continues to provide the resources needed to support the Queen's official duties."

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

Contact Jamie Ross at jamie.ross@buzzfeed.com.

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