Queen Elizabeth may have had a cough over her cornflakes Monday morning as the issue of her financial affairs became front page news.
The Queen, 91, invested as much as US $13.2 million (£10 million) in offshore tax havens, a series of leaked documents claim.
The documents, around 13 million files that have become known as the “Paradise Papers,” detail how the Queen’s private income fund put money into accounts held in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, the BBC’s Panorama program reported. The private fund, called Duchy of Lancaster estate, is worth around US $655 million and provides the Queen with $25.2 million a year. She pays tax on that — a decision she agreed to in 1992 after a fire destroyed much of Windsor Castle.
At the time of the fire, talks were already under way concerning moves for the Queen to pay taxes. But when she and the government agreed that she should be the first monarch since the 1930s to pay a levy on her income, it was interpreted as a response to a fight over who should pay for the fire damage.
The Guardian, one of the main partners in a consortium of media businesses combing through the newly-discovered files, highlighted that a small amount of the Duchy of Lancaster’s offshore money was found to have been invested in a British retailer Brighthouse, which has been criticized for not being a “responsible lender.”
Insiders tells PEOPLE that the Queen would not be aware of the investment decisions that are made by the Duchy. The estate is managed by the Duchy Council, and all investments are made on the advice of fund managers and consultants, a source adds.
Buckingham Palace had no comment on the story and referred all calls to the Duchy. There, a spokesperson said in a statement, “We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds. All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate.
“The Dover Street investment [in the Cayman Islands] was bought in 2005 and forms only 0.3% of the total value of the Duchy.
“The Duchy’s investment in Bright House is through a third party and equates to £3,208 — just 0.0006% of the Duchy’s value.”
The statement adds, “The Queen voluntarily pays tax on any income she receives from the Duchy.”