Tories believe Civil List to be pruned

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The Independent Online
TORY MPs believe the ground is being prepared by the Prime Minister for the Queen to meet growing demands for her to pay taxes and cut the Civil List to four members of the Royal Family.

The support for the pruning of the Civil List expressed by Sir Marcus Fox, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, was seen as a signal that legislative changes are being prepared.

Sir Marcus played an influential role in persuading David Mellor to resign last week, and represents backbench opinion.

Buckingham Palace last month denied that the Prime Minister discussed the termination of the 10-year agreement for preserving the Civil List with increases for a decade, at an audience of the Queen at Balmoral last month.

But sources have confirmed that the Queen has been privately discussing resuming the payment of taxes on the monarch's income, which ended in 1936.

Downing Street yesterday refused to comment on a report that the Prime Minister was determined to introduce the changes before the next election.

The Queen is believed to have recognised that there has been a shift in public opinion in favour of reducing the public cost of the Royal Family, following the reports on the Duchess of York, including topless photographs taken on one of her holidays.

The Civil List is expected to be limited to the Queen, the Queen Mother, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Duke of York. The Prince and Princess of Wales get pounds 2m a year from Duchy of Cornwall estates. 'Losers' would include the Princess Royal, Princess Margaret, Prince Edward and Princess Alice.

Some believe that the withdrawal of public money would prevent those off the Civil List being regarded as 'fair game' for exploitation in the press.