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It is a club that includes some of the world’s richest people. There are dukes, sheikhs, flamboyant entrepreneurs — even Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family.


What they have in common besides ownership of some of Britain’s finest estates — adorned with stately homes, manicured gardens and, sometimes, racing stables — is their legal status as farmers, which means they are on the dole for European Union farm subsidies.


The queen’s idyllic 20,000-acre estate at Sandringham is among the huge holdings supported by the annual payouts, receiving more than $675,000 in European farm subsidies last year (down from $975,000 the year before).


But that could be about to change because of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, known as Brexit.


The idea that public subsidies help the rich get richer may be unpopular, but while payments can be tracked on an official website, the decisions on them have been sheltered from view by the European Union’s much criticized Common Agricultural Policy. Once Britain is out of the bloc, however, the British Parliament will inherit the politically explosive issue of underwriting some of the cost of maintaining the estates of wealthy landowners. HOME SEARCHSKIP TO CONTENTSKIP TO NAVIGATIONVIEW MOBILE VERSION

The New York Times

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EUROPE

‘Brexit’ Threatens Subsidies for U.K.’s Landed Gentry, and Queen

By STEPHEN CASTLESEPT. 3, 2017


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Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth II’s 20,000-acre estate, is also a working farm, which entitles it to subsidies from the European Union. Credit Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

SANDRINGHAM, England — It is a club that includes some of the world’s richest people. There are dukes, sheikhs, flamboyant entrepreneurs — even Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family.


What they have in common besides ownership of some of Britain’s finest estates — adorned with stately homes, manicured gardens and, sometimes, racing stables — is their legal status as farmers, which means they are on the dole for European Union farm subsidies.


The queen’s idyllic 20,000-acre estate at Sandringham is among the huge holdings supported by the annual payouts, receiving more than $675,000 in European farm subsidies last year (down from $975,000 the year before).


But that could be about to change because of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, known as Brexit.


The idea that public subsidies help the rich get richer may be unpopular, but while payments can be tracked on an official website, the decisions on them have been sheltered from view by the European Union’s much criticized Common Agricultural Policy. Once Britain is out of the bloc, however, the British Parliament will inherit the politically explosive issue of underwriting some of the cost of maintaining the estates of wealthy landowners.


Continue reading the main story

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Continue reading the main story

At a time when even the Conservatives under Prime Minister Theresa May have declared war on the growing wealth inequality and the inequities of capitalism, there is a rising clamor to stop, or at least curb, the handouts to the titled, and entitled.


“It’s completely indefensible,” said Chris Bryant, an opposition Labour Party lawmaker, former minister and author of the coming “Entitled, a Critical History of the British Aristocracy.”


“The only way we have been able to defend it in the past is that it is a European Union system,” he said. The British government has, Mr. Bryant added, “for years argued that we spend too much on agriculture, and the logical consequence of that would be not to have such high subsidies.”


Recipients include a cast of the rich and famous, with money finding its way to another prominent member of the royal family via the Duchy of Cornwall, an estate established by Edward III in 1337. Its revenues go to Prince Charles, the Duke of Cornwall, an heir to the throne. In 2016, the duchy received more than $130,000 in European Union subsidies. Other wealthy beneficiaries have included the Duke of Westminster, who died last year; the Duke of Northumberland; Khalid Abdullah al-Saud, owner of the Juddmonte racing stables; Sheikh