Queen Elizabeth gets bumper pay rise
Britain's Queen Elizabeth has another reason to be cheerful in her Diamond Jubilee year - her annual pay is about to jump by 20 percent to £36 million ($70 million).
Her property holdings, known as the Crown Estate, posted a record profit of £240.2 million, a net rise of 4 percent in the year through March 2012 largely due to strong tenant demand for its shops in the upmarket Regent Street and St James's districts of London.
At a time when Britain is in recession and many families are feeling the pinch of higher household costs and taxes, the Queen's allowance will rise to £36 million from £30 million, the level at which it was frozen in October 2010 under new laws which peg her pay to the estate's profits.
"It's a great set of results and I'm sure everyone's going to be happy," Crown Estate Chief Executive Alison Nimmo said.
The 85-year-old queen celebrated her 60th year on the throne this month with a 1,000-vessel flotilla on London's River Thames and nationwide street parties.
She has been paid by taxpayers through an allowance set by Parliament and via other government grants since King George III ceded all property profits to the Treasury in 1760.
The Crown Estate pays all of its profit to the Treasury, or finance ministry. Under new laws that come into effect in 2013-14, the monarch's pay is calculated as 15 percent of the estate's profits from two years prior.
The changes were designed to ensure the queen's pay would rise and fall with the health of the British economy, which this year entered its second recession since the start of the global financial crisis.
Used mainly to pay the Royal household's staff as well as for items like laundry, stationery and official functions, her 2013-14 pay will be the highest since 2008 though still less than half of her 1991 pay of £77.3 million.
The Crown Estate, which owns a mix of wind farms, retail parks and most of Britain's seabed in addition to its central London properties, outperformed the industry's Investment Property Databank (IPD) benchmark index due to strong international interest in the London property market and the country's growing dependency on renewable energy.
The value of its property portfolio rose 7.4 percent to £7.6 billion from the previous year, while the total return, which includes rental income, was 16.8 percent, outperforming the IPD index by 10.4 percentage points.
Its London projects include the £500 million regeneration of the St James's district, where it will redevelop almost 300,000 square feet of new shops, offices and homes.