As TNR contributor Kojo Koram reported last September, a study from the Tax Justice Network found that “the world’s three most corrosive corporate tax havens are all British Overseas Territories”—the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands. “These tax havens are often presented in the media as strange foreign hideouts for dirty money,” writes Koram, “but they are all ruled by a British governor who represents the crown, carries the final say on the law and, every year leads the celebration of the queen’s birthday in a manner that resurrects the era of the old British West Indies.” It is precisely this royal sheen that allows these tax havens to “present themselves as part of the long history of English financial and legal expertise, not simply grubby secret money dens.”
The bottom line, Noah writes, is that while the monarchy might be a “ridiculous anachronism” as a governing institution, “as a form of capitalism, it’s the cutting edge,” largely because the royal family “accumulates wealth the same way it governs—by not doing anything.” And even beyond all that money sitting in secret accounts, earning money on top of itself, the royals take in another annual haul of boodle in the form of the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant, which in 2022 exceeded $107 million.
And though he may have the funds, I’m not sure that Charles truly has the charisma to be a transformational leader or Sally Quinn’s hoped-for climate savior. Julie Burchill, writing for TNR in 1993, described Charles as “a horrible hybrid of American psychobabbling self-pity, German pomposity and Scandinavian introspection. Knowing full well that he is not possessed of anything like a first-class mind, he settled into a sort of permanent whining restlessness that dumb people consider makes them seem ‘deep.’ But being dissatisfied and being deep are not the same thing.”