Sturgeon denies Scotland will cut Queen’s subsidy, rebuffs Palace claims

Workers adjust a large poster of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II above the entrance to the Technical University of Berlin (TU Berlin) ahead of her visit in Berlin, Germany (Reuters / Hannibal Hanschke)
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has denied Scotland will stop funding the Queen after a Buckingham Palace aide claimed Edinburgh was pulling out of the ‘Sovereign Grant.’

An anonymous Palace official previously said Scotland’s decision to stop paying for the monarchy would cause a £2 million shortfall in the annual grant.

However Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Sturgeon strenuously denied the claims on Twitter, saying Scotland had “categorically” no intention to cut their contribution to the Queen.

The Treasury have echoed Sturgeon’s comments, insisting that Scotland would continue to contribute to Royal funding.

A Palace courtier had said the Scottish Parliament intends to keep profits generated by the Scottish Crown Estate – property and assets owned by the Royal family – rather than hand them over to the monarchy.

Edinburgh will gain control over the Crown Estate next year as part of further devolution.

The comments by the anonymous Palace official followed calls by anti-monarchy groups for Buckingham Palace to be turned into a museum, after it was revealed the building is in need of £150 million of repairs.

A senior Palace official had claimed that while former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond initially implied Scotland would still contribute to the Royal family’s costs after Edinburgh takes over management of the crown estate assets, Sturgeon was against the idea.

Originally, Alex Salmond did imply that might happen. But the new leadership said ‘no’,” a senior aide said.

At the moment there’s no other mechanism in place to compensate. It would be nice if the proportion was increased from the rest of the UK.

Keep of the Privy Purse Sir Alan Reid, who is responsible for the Queen’s income and expenditure, said when control of the crown estate is passed to Scotland, “total crown assets will fall.

Sturgeon strongly denied the claims in a Twitter spat with Channel 4’s Cathy Newman.

The FM asked Newman to correct a blog which claimed Scotland was going to stop paying for the Queen.

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You do know this story has no basis in fact? Scotland is not ‘set to’ do this – and never has been,” Sturgeon told Newman.

There is absolutely, categorically, no intention by @scotgov to cut S’land’s contribution to Sovereign Grant & never has been,” she added.

The Treasury also rebuffed the claims, insisting control of the sovereign grant remains with central government in Westminster.

A senior Treasury source told the Guardian: “Of course independence would have changed things, so we made a clear commitment.”

But nothing changes to the grant after a no vote because responsibility for it remains reserved to Westminster.

The Crown Estate in Scotland generated a profit of £14.6 million in 2014/15, of which £2.1 million went towards the Sovereign Grant.

The Scottish Parliament was reportedly considering transferring control of the estate to local authorities, redirecting the profits into social purposes.

The new arrangement, whereby Scotland gains control over Royal assets north of the border, is part of promises of further devolution made by Westminster ahead of last year’s vote on independence.

A Scottish government spokeswoman also denied funding would be reduced, saying “Scotland will continue to make the same financial contribution to the monarchy as at present – there will be no reduction in the sovereign grant as a result of devolution of the Crown Estate.”

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Scottish taxpayers will continue to fund a full and fair share of the Sovereign Grant. The Grant will not be adversely affected by devolution,” a Treasury spokesman said.

The row over royal funding comes in the wake of revelations the Queen may have to move out of Buckingham Palace while the building undergoes a £150 million renovation.

Palace officials said the building needs rewiring, new plumbing, asbestos removing and redecoration inside and out.

Anti-monarchy campaign group Republic seized on the news to call for the palace to be turned into a museum and art gallery.

If the taxpayer is footing the bill, the taxpayer should reap the reward,” the charity’s Chief Executive Graham Smith said.

Buckingham palace already houses one of the world’s greatest art collections – so let’s see it handed back to the people.”