The monarchy is one of Britain’s most secretive institutions. Historians have said it is more secretive than MI5 or the CIA. The Royal Household jealously guards its secrets, whether around political interference, financial probity or private interests.
Index on Censorship has also produced a report, published in early 2023, which challenges the royal household to open up.
The royal household and institution of the monarchy are not included in the Freedom of Information Act. So you have no right to request any information from them.
Any information or communication about or from the royals held by other public bodies is covered by an absolute exemption from disclosure under FOI rules. So you cannot ask any government department for any information either.
Most government archives go to the National Archives. Archive material - including official communications and records - relating to the monarchy goes to the Royal Archive, which is locked away and difficult to access.
Republic demands reform.
It goes without saying that Republic aims for the abolition of the monarchy. In the meantime there must be reform of the rules, to end royal secrecy:
Reform the Freedom of Information Act
The FOIA needs to include the monarchy as a public authority within its scope, so that the Royal Household is bound by the same rules as any other public body. The changes made in 2010 should also be repealed, re-introducing the public interest test to official communications between the government and Head of State. The general exemption for royals should be scrapped altogether.
Full disclosure of royal lobbying
The public has a right to know the extent, nature and impact of royal lobbying on public policy and legislation. So it is recommended that all correspondence held by public authorities received from the Royal Household should be disclosed. The usual exemptions under the Act should still apply, such as national security and legitimate confidentiality.
Full disclosure of the use of the Queen’s and Prince’s consent
All records regarding the granting of Queen’s and Prince’s consent should be published, to allow for a full assessment of the impact of the veto on legislation.
An end to the royal veto
The Queen’s and Prince’s consent rule should be scrapped. If the government wishes the Crown to be given privileged status within any law it will need to make the case in parliament.
An end to the practice of sending cabinet papers to Prince Charles
Prince Charles has no legitimate need to see cabinet papers. This practice should stop immediately.
Introduce financial reporting reforms so that royal finances are reported by an independent body
The palace should no longer be responsible for reporting royal finances. This task should fall to an independent body that must be required to publish the figures in full, to the same standards as are applied to other public bodies and without any accompanying spin.
Incorporate all royal costs into the central finance report
All costs met by local councils, police forces or any other body, plus the revenues and costs from the Duchies should be included in the official calculation of the annual cost of the monarchy.
Transfer royal archives to the national archives and place them under the same rules for disclosure and access
Official royal archives should be accessible under the same rules as cabinet papers and other official documents.
A full commitment to apply the 7 standards in public life to the Royal Household.
An independent body should report annually to parliament on how the Royal Household measures up to the 7 standards in public life.
Do you like this page?