Member Review

Royal Legacy

Pub Date:

Review by

G H, Reviewer

Last updated on 14 Feb 2018

I Recommend This Book


At times it seems that you can not pick up or newspaper or watch the television without encountering a feature or documentary concerning the British Royal Family but stories involving their wealth (how their acquired it and what they do with it ) are remarkably few if any. This imbalance is now redressed by David McClure in his book Royal Legacy which takes an insightful and at times irreverent look at something that is normally hidden well away from the public gaze despite the previous existence of the Civil List now replaced by the Sovereign Grant. Going back over a hundred years this well researched book seeks to find answers and present an understanding of the royal finances. This task is made more difficult due to the Royal family's practice of having sealed wills thus hiding the content from public scrutiny.  

This is not only a book about figures but also a fascinating look at how finance has shaped actions and relationships. I was particularly fascinated to read about the negotiations that took place at the time of the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936 with Wallis Simpson on the other end of a telephone in the South of France conveying her thoughts regarding the financial deals that were being made, deals incidentally that would contribute to the bad feelings between the Duke of Windsor and the Royals for years to come.  

The book is divided into chapters dealing with various major and minor royals some of whom I must confess I have never heard of before. Throughout for the royals there is an undercurrent of fear of paying death duties and the need to preserve and pass on their wealth to future generations. But sometimes needs must and there is a particularly interesting chapter on the "car boot" sale of Princess Margaret's possessions by her son and daughter. We also read of two farcical court cases derived from Princess Dianna's will. There are some important issues raised here including why the Duchy of Cornwall is exempt from normal taxation when it undertakes commercial activities and what paintings should be classed as private or classed as public as part of the Royal collection. 

Interesting, well written and insightful I think you will find this a good read that will generate much thought and debate.

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