The revelations about the extent to which the Queen of England has used the deference accorded to her and her family to enrich themselves keep emerging. Now new revelations show that police are not even allowed onto property owned by the royals without her permission even to investigate potential crimes when speed is of the essence to prevent the destruction of evidence.
Personalised exemptions for the Queen in her private capacity have been written into more than 160 laws since 1967, granting her sweeping immunity from swathes of British law – ranging from animal welfare to workers’ rights. Dozens extend further immunity to her private property portfolio, granting her unique protections as the owner of large landed estates.
More than 30 different laws stipulate that police are barred from entering the private Balmoral and Sandringham estates without the Queen’s permission to investigate suspected crimes, including wildlife offences and environmental pollution – a legal immunity accorded to no other private landowner in the country.
Police are also required to obtain her personal agreement before they can investigate suspected offences at her privately owned salmon and trout fishing business on the River Dee at Balmoral, where anglers are charged up to £630 a day to fish.
Under the longstanding but ill-defined doctrine of sovereign immunity, criminal and civil proceedings are not brought against the monarch as head of state. But an investigation by the Guardian, drawing on official documents and analysis of legislation, reveals the extent to which laws have been written or amended to specify immunity for her conduct as a private citizen, along with her privately owned assets and estates – and even a privately owned business.
One constitutional expert warned that the carve-outs undermine the notion that everyone is equal before the law, while another recommended the monarchy review and simplify the exemptions for the sake of public transparency.
This report discusses how police were prevented from investigating a possible wildlife crime by Harry, the Queen’s grandson, after a wildlife warden was shocked to see two female hen carriers shot out of the sky. Harry and friends were out shooting ducks that day.
Within minutes, the warden had notified Natural England, which manages the reserve. Shocked officials called the police and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who scrambled to investigate.
It is a criminal offence to injure hen harriers, one of the rarest and most persecuted birds in the UK, then punishable by six months in prison or a £5,000 fine.
According to internal Natural England documents obtained by the Guardian, their urgency was in vain. To their surprise, they were told by Norfolk constabulary that no immediate action was possible: the police said they needed to ask Sandringham officials for permission to go on to the estate.
In the memo, written on 25 October 2007, the day after the two hen harriers were shot, a senior Natural England official claimed to other executives in the agency that Sandringham was, in effect, known as a wildlife crime hotspot.
When the police were finally allowed into the premises to investigate, they could not find the hen carcasses and instead found the Queen’s employees already on the site.
When two Norfolk police wildlife crime officers and two RSPB investigators arrived at Sandringham just after dawn on the morning of 25 October 2007, they found a flurry of activity at the site where the hen harrier incident was believed to have taken place the night before. People were already searching the site.
Mark Thomas, an RSPB wildlife crime investigator, wrote in a blog at the time: “A couple of people were already present: a man and a woman with a Land Rover and eight dogs which were busily working the ground. On speaking to the people, they were there on the request of the estate to retrieve ducks shot the previous evening.”
That was not the only offense against wildlife that occurred on her properties.
It should be intolerable that employees of the Queen do not enjoy the protections of rights granted to all other workers in the country.
The most controversial exemptions ban the Queen’s employees from pursuing sexual and racial discrimination complaints. Even the most modern piece of anti-discrimination law, the Equality Act 2010, is designed not to protect those employed by the Queen.
Other laws contain carve-outs exempting the Queen as a private employer from having to observe various workers’ rights, health and safety, or pensions laws. She is fully or partly exempt from at least four different laws on workers’ pensions, and is not required to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
These exemptions enable a feudal system to exist on her extensive properties long after it has been deservedly abandoned elsewhere.
Are you a Brit? If not, you will never understand the love for the British Monarchy. Logic won’t cut it.
Apart from this, she brings in a hell of a lot of cash from tourists -- a damn site more than Biden or any European leader.
chigau (違う) says
Do Scottish people love the “British” monarchy? Welsh people? Irish people?
consciousness razor says
So you’re telling me there is even more for tourists to love? More of that sweet, sweet cash for the UK.
Just like the paying tourists always dreamed of, practically a fairy tale. Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle just wouldn’t be the same without that. Indeed, nobody would even be able to see them at all, if there were no monarch, presumably.
Such a weird argument. Tourism in DC alone (not fucking Biden) does bring in a healthy amount every year…. So? I don’t know or care about how much is directly tied to the monarchy or how that compares to the entire tourism industry in the UK. But if you wanted some money, I’m pretty sure there are other ways to do it besides having a system of government which makes your country seem like a museum/circus/theme park.
consciousness razor says
From The Irish Times last year:
That seems relatively positive, compared to what some have had to say about the subject.
Plenty of British people, myself included, think the monarchy should go. We vary in how we would see them go, I’d deprive them of the personal estates as well as the oficial royal residences as even the personal estates were obtained with wealth that they only had because they were the monarchy. I’d be generous and let them have the national average income for those in taxed employment along with some of the possessions bought with the wealth of others. And I’d like to see that weath used for reparations to countries we as a nation fucked over,. It would be a drop in what we owe, but at least it would be something.
The species is actually the hen harrier, so called because it is a harrier named for its habit of preying on chooks. And harriers are a subgroup of hawk species.
John Morales says
Holms, immediately after the typo, in the quotation:
“It is a criminal offence to injure hen harriers, one of the rarest and most persecuted birds in the UK”
For me, the big news was that “we don’t like darkies” is still legal employment policy for the royals.
Dear consciousness razor,
I respect everyone’s point of view, but I will make a few observations (personal, of course).
When you talk of circus/theme park, many people on this side of the pond think more of the Biden-Trump election fiasco, including the confusion over postal voting. And the idea that the Russians could influence 350+ million Americans is pure farcical -- absolute paranoia.
The expropriation idea some have expounded is it seems to me a slippery slope.
Because everyone who has got to be very rich has probably at some time or other resorted to ill-gotten gains in one way or another. Or through tax evasion or even tax lplanning (like the cases of Amazon and Google) who pay something like 0.003% tax in Europe whilst the rest of us suckers pay anywhere between 40 and 70% depending on the country you live in.
There is injustice all around us. Take, for example, Italy. The P.M earns 1 million plus Euros a year (compared, for example, to the UK’s PM who earn about £150,000). What justification is there for that? Whet does he do to earn it? In fact, still on the subject of Italy. One party (M5S) won a majority in 2014, a majority that the people gave them for four years. The Constitution decrees that an election must be held every four years.
At the end of the four years, that mandate was over. They no longer had a majority and no longer represented the people in Parliament. However, they are still in Parliament. There have been no elections since 2014. So, they majority in parliament is false and unrepresentative. They just that by claiming that various political groups have joined together to make an ‘armchair government’. This is democracy distorted, little more than a farce and does not make them representative of the people, who need and have the right to elections!
This whole situation is compounded by the puppet Draghi (who is supported by most Western governments) despite the fact that he also refuses to respect the people and their democratic right to choose and elect their representative. There is, of course, a more sinister motivation behind this behaviour These Parliament want to remain in government as long as possible so that they can increase their pensions when the time comes for them to leave.
And you are concerned about injustices concerning the old Queen of the UK? Far more people visit the UK due to the Queen and its Royal history than do opeople who visit Italy to see Mattarella (The President). Indeed, I doubt if anyone ever visits Italy to see Mattarella. As can be seen, other systems are no better, and can be indeed much worse and in fact, more corrupt.
Yes, but I’m pointing out Mano’s seeming misread of that source text.
another stewart says
@9: Italy had elections in 2013 and 2018. The next one is due in 2023.
M5S didn’t win elections in 2014 (or 2013), or even 2018. They had more votes than any other party in 2018, and became the leading member of a coalition. They became the leading member of a different coalition (normal practice in multi-party democracies) in 2019, and a member of a government of national unity in 2021. There may be some ambiguity, but they seem to have left the government earlier this year.
In 2018 the 4 parties of the Coalizione di centro-destra (who formed an electoral pact) collectively got more votes that M5S, but well short of a majority.
Yeah. I forgot that because we are so tired of waiting for a chance to express our choice. Nevertheless, the last seven ‘PM’s were NOT electerd democratically, but were mere manipulations of the system. That is: Monti, Letta, Renzi, Gentiloni, Conte (twice), and Draghi. It is like living in a regime! I stand by the rest of my previous post. Indeed, I could add much to it, but I don’t want to bore people.
Rob Grigjanis says
chigau @2: Some links;
There’s more support for the monarchy in Scotland than I would have guessed.
The notion that the royal family bring in tourist money is absolute suppurating nonsense. France is a far bigger tourist destination than the UK, and they had the right idea about their monarchy two hundred years ago. Yet people still visit Versailles and the Tuilleries and the Louvre in their millions. Rome hasn’t had emperors for over a thousand years, and people still visit the Colosseum, the Pantheon and Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli. Egypt’s pharaohs are long gone, and the Pyramids haven’t lost their charm as a tourist hotspot because of it. Even if gaudy royal-themed tat were the only reason people wanted to visit the UK (it isn’t), we’d still have all of that for the gawkers to fawn over. Or we could just tear the lot of it down and build something modern and useful.
None of the tourists who visit the UK actually get to meet the queen. Or any of the other feckless parasites in her ambit. No other country in the world that still has a monarchy airs such hackneyed and demonstrably false arguments. Nobody visits Saudi Arabia to see its disgusting royal palaces. Nobody visits Thailand because it has a king.
And even if people DID visit the UK solely because of its royals, I think the loss of tourist money would be worth it to do away with an immoral and objectively harmful institution that rests on the principle that some people are born superior to others.
In fact, it’s not just nonsense, it’s pure propaganda. The establishment spends a good deal of time and money trying to lull British people into thinking that the monarchy is fine and normal and appropriate, and arguments like “they bring in a lot of tourist money” are a big part of that. Anyone who puts forward such claims is someone who has either been lied to and hasn’t seen through it or is part of the propaganda system.
Thanks for your comments. Just to clarify as you seem to include me in your categorising. I have not been lied to, and I have considered your points, and I am certainly not part of any propaganda machine. In the long run, it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other. I would, however, point out that it is precisely for the historical aspect (and not necessarily the people) that tourists visit the UK and the other countries you mention. And, of curse, The Queen, is a part of that, tracing her ancestry as she does through the ages. It is called having an interest in history. Others might be passionate about train-spotting. I really don’t see the problem if someone wants to ‘gawk’, as you put it.
You could, of course, abolish history and historical research in uniiversities, too, if that pleases you
The history won’t disappear if the monarchy is abolished, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace etc won’t disapper, but people would be able to see far more of them if the parasites were no longer able to live in them. And it would be possible for the buildings and gardens to be open all year, not just at the whim of one very old woman.
consciousness razor says
I have ancestors too. Yes, it makes me feel very special.
So … were you grown in a vat or something? What was that like?
I spent most of the 2000s doing historical research in British universities. Funnily enough the existence of the monarchy had not the slightest impact on my work. I’m all for people showing an interest in history, and the monarchy very much belongs there -- i.e. in the past. People still visit Rome despite the notable lack of Caesars in the place these days.
But Buckingham Palace isn’t really old enough to qualify as proper history. It was built by George IV for goodness’ sake. And would work much better broken down into social housing or turned into a hospital.
Lol @ somebody lecturing cartomancer about “having an interest in history”. That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen all week.
@ 16 Rupert
My dude, the Windsors literally invented their name to conceal their ancestry.
Maybe not knowingly. And do people necessarily know they have been lied to? That would seem to remove the point of lying if so.
How many tourists in the UK meet a royal in person? Possibly exactly zero. How many tourists in the UK glimpse a royal from afar? A small proportion. The royals are sequestered away from the likes of us, yet tourists visit anyway. What are they visiting for then? People still flock to castles and palaces around the world despite them no longer housing kings and queens. The history and architecture of the UK will still be there if the royals are removed.
chigau (違う) says
I wonder how Walton is doing.
They still seem to be doing what royalty did in feudal times: have a bunch of other countries to run to if anything goes sour for them. If they were no longer welcome in England then I’m sure they’d go grift somewhere else. The only difference is in modern times they don’t even have to plead with a relative to let them do it -- the same family has a similarly cozy niche carved out in Canada and a bunch of other places.
I’m pretty sure trying to extradite a head of state, even a purely decorative one, would cause a big diplomatic incident. So once they get out, they’re pretty much free and clear. This also means they can run off with anything they can get their grubby paws on (or more realistically, con a servant into swiping for them) and they’ll get away with that, too.
I am not sure what the aim of your ‘vat’ comment is, but I am sure that you can do better. Unfortunately when one starts using argentum ad hominem, it suggest that their argumentative ideas are exhausted and in many cases their position is bigoted.
It’s elliptical sarcasm. If it had been phrased less elliptically, it might have been something like:
(Because a vat-grown person would not have ancestors, having been vat-grown rather than parented as usual, or even as unusual)
(I’m not consciousness razor, but I understood the intent.)
When someone puts such a blatant falsehood in a comment, no subsequent “Oh yeah, I forgot” really does much to restore confidence in their reliability. Did you really think no-one here would have the minimal knowledge of Italian politics to know that you were talking utter crap, Rupert?
A pedant writes: the last person to hold that title -- Queen Anne -- died in 1714. She ceased to hold that title in 1707, when the kingdoms of England and Scotland were merged into the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Do you know Italian? Or Italian culture (from the inside)? Do you listen to Italian politicians on TV? Wil you vote on the 22 September, 2022.?