Queen's private estate invested millions in offshore tax havens

By Elliot Bullman

The dossier exposed a complex structure of trusts, foundations and shell companies.

A huge new leak of financial documents called the ‘Paradise Papers’ have exposed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including the Queen's private estate, are protecting their wealth using a web of offshore tax havens.

queen elizabeth paradise papersOriginal image: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” by Foreign and Commonwealth Office, license CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

Many of the stories focus on how politicians, multinationals, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals use complex structures of trusts, foundations and shell companies to protect their cash from tax officials or hide their dealings behind a veil of secrecy.

Around £10million of the Queen's private money has been invested in overseas accounts in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.


The Duchy Of Lancaster, which pays the Queen and handles her estates, has invested in retailers including BrightHouse, which has recently come under fire for exploitation of vulnerable customers and the Threshers chain of off-licences, which later went bust owing £17.5m in tax and costing almost 6,000 people their jobs.

There is nothing illegal in the investments and no suggestion that the Queen is avoiding tax, but questions may be asked about whether the monarch should be investing offshore.


Despite no tax advantages being gained by investing the Queen's money offshore, the news is likely to fuel arguments that greater controls need to be placed on royal spending. The Queen is not believed to have any direct knowledge of the investments.

What are the Paradise Papers? Explosive documents reveal how the rich and powerful protect their wealth

The Paradise Papers are a collection of 13.4million documents that reveal a number of high profile figures, including the Queen and Donald Trump's commerce secretary, linked to offshore tax havens.

paradise papers

The secret dossier was leaked by German news organisation Süddeutsche Zeitung, which revealed the equally explosive Panama Papers last year, that then called on the help of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to aide its probe.

The dossier has revealed how the figures and organisations use schemes involving trusts and shell companies to protect their fortunes from tax officials.

The majority of the data comes from Appleby, a leading legal firm based in Bermuda. Appleby helps companies set up in overseas countries that have low or non-existent tax rates.

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