Buckingham Palace has denied claims Queen Elizabeth lobbied the government to change a proposed bill that would have revealed her private wealth 50 years ago.
The Guardian reported unearthed government memos revealed the Queen’s private lawyer met with ministers in November 1973 over a draft law that would have seen her shareholdings made public.
The following month a clause was inserted to the draft law, granting the power to exempt companies used by “heads of state” from new transparency measures, the documents indicated.
In a statement, a palace spokesperson said this wasn’t a case of Her Majesty influencing or blocking the legislation.
Rather, she was following the parliamentary process of Queen’s consent, in which the sovereign’s role is “purely formal”.
“Consent is always granted by the monarch where requested by government. Any assertion that the sovereign has blocked legislation is simply incorrect,” they explained.
“Whether Queen’s consent is required is decided by parliament, independently from the royal household, in matters that would affect crown interests, including personal property and personal interests of the monarch.
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“If consent is required, draft legislation is, by convention, put to the sovereign to grant solely on advice of ministers and as a matter of public record.”
The Guardian uncovered the 1973 documents from the National Archives while investigating the royal family’s use of Queen’s consent to “secretly influence the formation of British laws.”
The publication suggests the monarch “dispatched” her lawyer Matthew Farrer to meet with ministers from the Department of Trade and Industry.
Her Majesty “feared” the companies bill, drafted by Edward Health’s government, would open up her private finances to public scrutiny.
The law aimed to “prevent investors from secretly building up significant stakes in listed companies by acquiring their shares through front companies or nominees.”
The Queen was said to be worried her private investments in listed companies, and their value, would be revealed.