The Queen received 55% boost in EU farming subsidies at Sandringham

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The Queen’s Sandringham estate clawed in almost £1million in EU handouts last year after Prince Charles turned the farms organic, a royal finance expert has revealed.

Her Majesty’s sprawling Norfolk residence has been showered with Brussels subsidy money since the UK joined the bloc in the 1970s and became eligible for a portion of the Common Agricultural Policy’s multi-billion-pound pot. 

In the past five years, Sandringham has received more than £3million, including £935,908 in 2019 – 55 per cent more than the £604,844 awarded the previous year.

The Prince of Wales’s sustainability drive won the estate an extra £313,517 from the EU’s budget to support rural development projects.  

Royal author David McClure has claimed these often overlooked EU cash injections has long depressed estimates of the Queen’s overall wealth – which he puts at around £400million. 

But the Family’s finances could take a hit when Brussels turns the subsidy taps off as the Brexit transition period ends in December. 

Her Majesty's sprawling Norfolk residence has been showered with Brussels subsidy money since the UK joined the bloc in the 1970s and became eligible for a portion of the Common Agricultural Policy's multi-billion-pound pot

Her Majesty’s sprawling Norfolk residence has been showered with Brussels subsidy money since the UK joined the bloc in the 1970s and became eligible for a portion of the Common Agricultural Policy’s multi-billion-pound pot

Royal author David McClure has claimed these often overlooked EU cash injections has long depressed estimates of the Queen's overall wealth - which he puts at around £400million

Royal author David McClure has claimed these often overlooked EU cash injections has long depressed estimates of the Queen’s overall wealth – which he puts at around £400million

In his forthcoming book, The Queen’s True Worth: Unravelling the Public & Private Finances of Queen Elizabeth II, McClure stresses that Her Majesty’s wealth remains murky and is hotly contested by royal watchers.

This is because much information remains out of public viewing and the Royal Family are not bound by Freedom of Information laws to disclose their wealth.

McClure rubbishes some ‘crude’ estimates which arrive at ‘astronomical’ amounts by factoring in residences such as Buckingham Palace, which the Queen does not own, into their calculations.

Yet unlike her other royal residences, Sandringham is privately owned and was passed to her from her father King George VI upon his death in 1952.

In The Queen’s True Worth, McClure chronicles how Prince Philip grappled with the 20,000-acre estate, which was burning money.

‘What had reduced profitability was fragmentation: there were simply too many small farms with too many workers producing too few profits,’ he writes, according to an extract published in the Daily Express.

In The Queen's True Worth, McClure chronicles how Prince Philip grappled with the 20,000-acre estate, which was burning money

In The Queen’s True Worth, McClure chronicles how Prince Philip grappled with the 20,000-acre estate, which was burning money

David McClure

His forthcoming book, The Queen's True Worth: Unravelling the Public & Private Finances of Queen Elizabeth II

In his forthcoming book, The Queen’s True Worth: Unravelling the Public & Private Finances of Queen Elizabeth II, David McClure (left) stresses that Her Majesty’s wealth remains murky and is hotly contested by royal watchers

A radical shake-up by Philip, who melded the smaller plots of land into around a dozen ‘mega-farms’, shrank the workforce and generated profits. 

But McClure pins Sandringham’s revived fortunes on the UK’s accession to the European Community which allowed it to benefit from lucrative handouts.

McClure writes: ‘After the United Kingdom entered the EEC in 1973, Sandringham as one of the largest farms in Norfolk, became eligible for a large slice of the Common Agricultural Policy’s farming subsidy budget.’

Brussels’ CAP is a system of subsidies paid to EU farmers to shore up production and safeguarding farmers from an often uncertain business environment. 

What is the Common Agricultural Policy?

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a system whereby Brussels makes direct payments to EU farmers.

Subsidies are paid to ensure continued food production on the continent, and to safeguard farmers from volatile business environments.

Since its inception in 1962, the CAP has been a thorny issue, not least because of its enormous cost.

The CAP budget is 58billion euros, around a third of the entire EU budget.

Critics also say the majority of payments are made to big farms, rather than smaller more vulnerable ones.

And some argue that millionaire farmers do not need generous subsidy payments.

British farmers will no longer receive payments when the Brexit transition period ends in December.

The government has previously said it will continue financial support for farmers. 

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It also doles out money for farms engaging in environmental action as part of its war on climate change.

McClure dredges up public data from the last five years which reveals the amount the Sandringham farms, which among other produce grow blackcurrents for Ribena, were awarded from the EU.

Sandringham raked in ‘£553,051 in 2015, £524,466 in 2016, £695,001 in 2017, £604,844 in 2018 and a massive £935,908’. 

The most recent handout is topped up by over £300,000 in rural development money because of Charles’s transformation of the farms to become organic, he writes.

It is understood the heir to the throne hopes to make the estate fully organic by July and is introducing 500 beef cattle so their manure can be spread over the fields. 

Underscoring the importance of the EU subsidies to Sandringham, and in turn the Queen’s private wealth, McClure vastly elevates standard estimates for the estate’s value.

He writes: ‘Previous estimates have put the value of Sandringham at between £30million and £45million but, significantly, do not take into full account the extra value attached to the royal name.

‘If that is factored in, then – as we have seen from inflated prices paid at auction for other royal property – Sandringham might easily be worth £60million to £80million on the open market.’

But he reckons the ‘true test’ of Brussels handouts will be exposed when Sandringham is starved of CAP subsidies when the UK officially cuts ties with the bloc at the end of the year.

Source


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