Civil list

Civil list

A civil list is a list of individuals to whom money is paid by the government.


United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the Civil List is the name given to the annual grant that covers some expenses associated with the Sovereign performing their official duties, including those for staff salaries, State Visits, public engagements, ceremonial functions and the upkeep of the Royal Households. The cost of transport and security for the Royal Family, together with property maintenance and other sundry expenses, are covered by separate grants from individual Government Departments.


Following the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688, the expenses relating to the support of the monarch were largely separated from the ordinary expenses of the State. This was a reaction to the reigns of Charles II of England and James II of England (also known as James VII of Scotland), whose large revenues had made them independent of Parliament.

In 1697 the parliament of William and Mary fixed the Crown's peacetime revenue at £1,200,000 per year; of this about £700,000 was appropriated towards the Civil List. The Sovereign was expected to use this to defray some of the costs of running the civil government (such as the Civil Service, judges' and ambassadors' salaries) and the payment of pensions, as well as the expenses of the Royal Household and the Sovereign's personal expenses. It was from this that the term "Civil List" arose, to distinguish it from the statement of military and naval expenses which were funded through special taxation.

The accession of George III in 1760 marked a significant change in royal finances. Because his predecessor had failed to meet all of the specific costs of the civil government in accordance with the previous arrangement, it was decided that in return for George III surrendering the hereditary revenues from the Crown Estate to Parliament for the duration of his reign, Parliament would assume responsibility for most of the costs of the civil government. Parliament would continue to pay the Civil List, which would defray the expenses of the Royal Household and some of the costs of the civil government. George III also retained the income from the Duchy of Lancaster.

On the accession of William IV in 1830, the sum voted for the Civil List was restricted to the expenses of the Royal Household, removing any residual responsibilities associated with the cost of the civil government. This finally removed any link between the Sovereign and the cost of the civil government. The name 'Civil List' remains, however.

On the accession of Queen Victoria, the Civil List Act 1837 was passed which reiterated the principles of the civil list system and specified that all the prior Acts were to remain in force.

On the accession of each subsequent monarch, this constitutional arrangement is confirmed, but the historical term 'Civil List' remains, even though the grant has nothing to do with the expenses of the civil government or the fact that the original revenue source (the Crown Estate) fails to cover that cost.

Present day

The Crown Estate is now a statutory corporation, run on commercial lines by the Crown Estate Commissioners and generates revenue for HM Treasury every year (an income surplus of £210.7 million for the year ended 31 March 2010).[1] A misconception exists that this income belongs to the Sovereign, and is available for the Sovereign's personal use. It is actually received by the State as a result of the agreement reached in 1760 that has been renewed at the beginning of each subsequent reign, but is labelled as the 'Crown Estate' for historic reasons. (Under British constitutional practice, the Crown is the embodiment of the state. When it is said that "the Crown" has done something, it is the state - the Government - that has done it).

In late 2000, a £35.3 million reserve was established. The reserve was created from surpluses in the 1991-2000 Civil List caused by low inflation and the efforts of The Queen and her staff to make the Royal Household more efficient. For the period of 2001 - 2010, the Civil List continued to be fixed at £7,900,000 annually, the same amount since 1991.

Only The Queen officially receives direct funding from the Civil List. The Queen's consort (Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh) receives £359,000 per year. The Queen, as Head of State, receives £7,900,000 from the Civil List to defray some of the official expenditure of the Monarchy.

In the Spending Review statement to the House of Commons on 20 October 2010, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced that from 2013 the Civil List would be abolished. In its place, "the Royal Household will receive a new Sovereign Support Grant linked to a portion of the revenue of the Crown Estate." On 18 October 2011 the Sovereign Grant Act 2011 received Royal Assent. Under this Act, the Sovereign Grant will fund all of the official expenditure of the Monarchy, not just the expenditure currently borne by the Civil List.

The state duties and staff of other members of the Royal Family (but not The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke of Cambridge or Prince Harry) are funded from a Parliamentary Annuity, the amount of which is fully refunded by The Queen to the Treasury. The Queen is permitted to claim this amount as a deduction against her gross income from personal investments and other sources - the net amount, after deductions, is subject to normal income tax.


In Canada the civil list was a common term during the pre-confederation period when it caused much controversy. The Canadian civil list referred to the payment for all officials on the government payroll. There was much controversy as to whether the list would be controlled by the Governor or by the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly demanded control of all money matters, while the Governors worried that if the Assembly was given this power then certain positions would be delisted. Eventually under the Baldwin-Lafontaine government a compromise was reached with Lord Elgin.

The term civil list is no longer commonly used to describe the payment of civil servants in Canada.

New Zealand

The Civil List Act 1979 describes the funds provided for the Governor-General, Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament.


Article 22 of the 1996 Amended Moroccan Constitution guarantees that the King shall be entitled to a civil list.[citation needed] [2]


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Civil list — List List, n. [AS. l[=i]st a list of cloth; akin to D. lijst, G. leiste, OHG. l[=i]sta, Icel. lista, listi, Sw. list, Dan. liste. In sense 5 from F. liste, of German origin, and thus ultimately the same word.] 1. A strip forming the woven border… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Civil list — Civil Civ il, a. [L. civilis, fr. civis citizen: cf. F. civil. See {City}.] 1. Pertaining to a city or state, or to a citizen in his relations to his fellow citizens or to the state; within the city or state. [1913 Webster] 2. Subject to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • civil list — in the constitutional law of the UK, money paid to certain members of the royal family. The monarch surrenders for life all hereditary revenues, with the exception of those of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, to form part of the… …   Law dictionary

  • civil list — n the civil list the sum of money given every year by Parliament to the King or Queen of Britain and members of their family …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Civil List — ► NOUN ▪ (in the UK) an annual allowance voted by Parliament for the royal family s household expenses …   English terms dictionary

  • Civil List — (in Britain) the amount of money that parliament agrees to give every year to the king or queen to meet official expenses, such as allowances for other members of the Royal Family and wages for the royal household. See also Privy Purse. * * * ▪… …   Universalium

  • Civil List — N PROPER: the N The Civil List is money paid by the state every year to members of the British Royal Family to cover their living expenses. She gets ₤230,000 from the Civil List …   English dictionary

  • Civil List Act 1979 — Parliament of New Zealand Long title/ Purpose An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to the civil list Dates …   Wikipedia

  • civil list — list of government employees; money allocated to the monarch and royal family by Parliament …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Civil List Act 1837 — The Civil List Act 1837 (1 2 Vict. c. 2) was an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom, signed into law on 23 December 1837. It reiterated the principles of the civil list system, stating that the newly accessioned Queen Victoria undertook to… …   Wikipedia

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