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Definition: civil list from Philip's Encyclopedia

Annual grant voted by Parliament to supply the expenses of the royal establishment in Britain. In 1993, the number of royal family members on the civil list was reduced to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Queen Mother.

Summary Article: civil list
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In the UK, the annual sum provided from public funds to meet the official expenses of the sovereign and immediate dependents; private expenses are met by the privy purse.

History Before 1689 all expenses of government in peacetime and of the royal household were supposed to be met from the hereditary revenues of the Crown and from taxes voted for life to the sovereign on accession. When necessary other revenue was raised through additional taxes granted by Parliament

In 1689 Parliament attempted to secure some control over expenditure, and thus over the monarch by voting an annual sum of £600,000, made up of the hereditary revenues and part of the excise duty. This was raised to £700,000 and given statutory effect by the Civil List Act 1697. This sum was intended to meet the expenses of civil government (the civil service and pensions paid by the state) and the expenses of the royal household, but did not cover the cost of the army and navy, nor debt charges.

On the accession of George III in 1760 an important change occurred when the hereditary revenues and such tax yields as Parliament decided were no longer paid to the monarch, but to the exchequer account (known as the consolidated fund) and the civil list was paid out of the consolidated fund. Finally, on the accession of William IV in 1830 all government expenses were removed from the civil list and it was restricted to the expenses of the royal household.

The revenues of the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall are not included in the hereditary revenues surrendered to the consolidated fund, but are retained by the Queen and the Prince of Wales (who holds the title of Duke of Cornwall) respectively.


The amount is granted by Parliament on the recommendation of the Royal Trustees. It has to be renegotiated within the first six months of a new reign. In 1991 a fixed 10-year annual sum of £ 7.9 million was agreed for all of the royal family but this was changed in 1992 to provide only for the Queen, the Queen Mother, and the Duke of Edinburgh. In 2000 the Royal Trustees recommended that payments should remain at the 1991 level for a further ten years from 2001. Outside the Civil List Parliament makes payments for the upkeep of the royal palaces and for royal travel through the respective government departments. Other payments, such as those to members of the Queen's extended family come from her private income. Since 1995 the Queen had paid income tax on her private income, the amount of which is not publicly disclosed. Additional royal income has been generated since 1993 by the opening of Buckingham Palace, between August and October each year, to paying public visitors.


In the USA there is no equivalent of the civil list, but presidents and vice-presidents have salaries and allowances for expenses.

Provision is also made for their widows, and ex-presidents are pensioned and have free office space, with free post and allowances for staff.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

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