Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepping back from their royal duties could cost the family $1 trillion in back taxes? That's the untrue story in a tabloid this week. Gossip Cop can explain.
The finances of the royal family are notoriously convoluted and complicated. The family earns money in a variety of public and private ways. Most notably, the money earned on their landholdings in the United Kingdom, like the Duchy of Cornwall. The family also receives funds in the form of a public grant from the taxpayers that covers the cost of running the family, their security, and other aspects of the family's public life. For example, the now-infamous rehab of Frogmore Cottage, where Prince Harry and Markle live while in England, was paid for through that grant - money the duke and duchess have agreed to pay back.
Another important aspect is that the family is legally exempt from most U.K. taxes, including income tax. However, both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, who are responsible for most of the family's income, voluntarily pay taxes on the money they earn. Which brings us back to the ridiculous claim made by the National Enquirer this week that somehow the family could owe "$1 trillion" in back taxes due to "dirty dealings by the queen" and other royals. The article claims the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been "funneling blockbuster financial information to their top advisors."
The phony report quotes a supposed "Buckingham Palace aide" as saying, "Common citizens and members of Parliament are fed up with the Windsors and their spoiled behavior - and believe it's high time the royal family paid their full freight." This so-called source goes on to claim, "The family has been told by ranking government officials they'll be forced to pay $1 trillion in back taxes!" Setting aside the fact that any high-ranking aide would break news like this to a tabloid, which is unlikely, there is no evidence - none - that the family would ever owe anything like a trillion dollars.
That number is likely completely made up by the magazine. It implies that the family earns multiple trillions of dollars. Forbes estimates the entire royal family's net worth at around $88 billion. That means, according to the sketchy reporting by the tabloid, they could owe more than 10 times what they're actually worth. The premise is simply absurd, even more so because the royal family is legally exempt from paying most taxes. Even if they were worth trillions, they still wouldn't legally be on the hook for anything. This whole article is simply a way to invent a ridiculous headline meant to sell issues. It has no basis in truth whatsoever.
It's not surprising the Enquirer would be so woefully uninformed as to the inner-workings of the royal family. Just last week, the same tabloid ran a cover story incorrectly claiming Prince William and Prince Charles were fighting over the throne. It's a trope that Gossip Cop has debunked numerous times in the past. Common law, made by Parliament, determines the line of succession. The premise that there is some kind of Game of Thrones-style palace intrigue is not only false, but also impossible. The outlet is simply making these stories up.
Gossip Cop has determined this story is totally false.