The Historical Journal

Articles

Queen Victoria's civil list: what did she do with it?*

William M. Kuhna1

a1 Carthage College

ABSTRACT

Queen Victoria made important financial concessions to parliament over the course of her reign. She accepted a smaller civil list and a smaller annuity for her consort than had been paid to any of her predecessors. She disclosed the accounts of the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, both of which had formerly been considered private property. She also reduced her income by subjecting it to the newly re-instituted income tax. Despite these concessions, she managed to acquire a considerable private fortune. The principal sources of this fortune were improving incomes from the two duchies and better management of the civil list. Both sources benefited from reforms imposed by the prince consort. The queen used her private fortune to pay for items formerly paid for from public funds. She built houses and erected monuments. She paid partly for the golden jubilee and wholly for the debts that accumulated when the civil list became inadequate from the 1880s. Parliament in turn used evidence of her private fortune to decrease the size and number of public grants to her offspring. Thus, increased parliamentary supervision and better regulation of the civil list improved the queen's private financial position, but also reduced the public burdens.

Footnotes

* Warm thanks to Pamela Clark, Lisa Jane Graham, Marilyn Morris, Kurt Nagel and David Spring for their comments on an earlier version of this article.