Buckingham Palace has been decontaminated. Prince Andrew’s office has been closed down. Any chair he sat in has been reupholstered, all doorknobs swabbed down. Let’s not even talk about the bathrooms.
I can’t remember a time when the royal family’s damage control was so swift and absolute. Priests are excommunicated with less haste and more mercy than Andrew in the wake of his disastrous BBC Epstein-related interview, and its ever-cascading fallout. But I detect the odor of scapegoating and hypocrisy in the decisive role that Prince Charles has played in this purge against his brother.
The urgency of Charles’s actions amounted to panic—the kind of panic that suggests that the future King is worried that the whole “firm” is in jeopardy. Nobody wants to lose the Queen but there are distinct signs that the prospect of King Charles IV is far from appealing to many of her subjects.
A recent poll by YouGov found that millennials are cooling toward the monarchy—among 18- to 24-year-olds, only 41 percent are in favor of keeping it.
And one of the things that more and more people are sniffing out about Charles is that he’s a phony—that behind his façade of concern for the future of the planet and talk about slimming down the monarchy, he is an outrageous hypocrite on both counts.
There is persuasive evidence for this in a new book, What the Royal Family Don’t Want You to Know…And What Do You Do? (Biteback Publishing, UK) by Norman Baker, a former government minister and long-time Member of Parliament who has become a zealous auditor of the royal firm’s accounts and travel habits.
Among the red flags that Baker raises are:
- Charles has turned his vast personal fief, the Duchy of Cornwall, into a brand of high-end supermarket foods that makes an annual profit of more than £21 million ($27.1 million) on which he pays no corporate taxes.
- Although he pays income tax (albeit “voluntarily”) he is allowed to make huge deductions for expenses including the costs of a personal staff of 28, including butlers, valets and gardeners—as well as those of the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, including her jewels, clothes and stabling for horses.
- He pays market price rent to the Duchy on Highgrove, his sprawling country estate, but all that money comes straight back to him in the Duchy’s profits without any deductions for tax—amounting, in fact, to self-dealing.
- The Duchy audits its own accounts and gives no right of access to the government watchdog, the National Audit Office.
- When Charles made a tour of Europe to promote awareness of climate change he flew to Rome, Berlin and Venice on a private jet, leaving a carbon footprint of 52.95 tonnes—using commercial flights would have reduced emissions by 95 percent.
- The latest available annual travel costs (2018/19) for Charles and Camilla were £1.3 million ($1.68 million) and in that one year the carbon emissions generated by travel by the whole royal family doubled to 3,344 tonnes.
The Daily Beast reached out to Buckingham Palace for comment, and did not receive a response.
What makes Baker’s book particularly unusual is that he is currently a member of the Privy Council, the body of the “great and the wise” appointed as advisers to the Queen.
The title Duke of Cornwall is a lesser of Charles’s titles, Prince of Wales being the principal. But there is no loot with the Welsh title, nor much involvement with Wales except being invested with the title at an empty medieval pile, Caenarvon Castle, for which it is required to learn a few perfunctory lines of Welsh.
In contrast, the Duchy of Cornwall is loaded with wealth and land holdings that go back to 1337. Only 13 percent of the land is in Cornwall; there is four times as much in neighboring Devon, including 160 miles of coastline, and some hugely valuable sites in London.
The idea of using the Duchy name to brand a line of foods began in 1992 by using organic cereals from Duchy farms to make a line of biscuits named “Duchy Originals” – thereby seeming to be consistent with Charles’s well publicized devotion to the purity of organic products.
However, along with the world economy, the business crashed in 2008, making a loss of £3.3 million ($4.26 million). Charles was bailed out by the Waitrose supermarket chain, which saw an opportunity to punch the brand back into life by making it like a combination of Whole Foods and a royal franchise—all Duchy products carry the Duchy’s coat of arms as their logo.