At a time when even the Conservatives under Prime Minister Theresa May have declared war on the growing wealth inequality and the inequities of capitalism, there is a rising clamor to stop, or at least curb, the handouts to the titled, and entitled.
“It’s completely indefensible,” said Chris Bryant, an opposition Labour Party lawmaker, former minister and author of the coming “Entitled, a Critical History of the British Aristocracy.”
“The only way we have been able to defend it in the past is that it is a European Union system,” he said. The British government has, Mr. Bryant added, “for years argued that we spend too much on agriculture, and the logical consequence of that would be not to have such high subsidies.”
Recipients include a cast of the rich and famous, with money finding its way to another prominent member of the royal family via the Duchy of Cornwall, an estate established by Edward III in 1337. Its revenues go to Prince Charles, the Duke of Cornwall, an heir to the throne. In 2016, the duchy received more than $130,000 in European Union subsidies.
Other wealthy beneficiaries have included the Duke of Westminster, who died last year; the Duke of Northumberland; Khalid Abdullah al-Saud, owner of the Juddmonte racing stables; Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai, who owns the Godolphin stables; and James Dyson, the pro-Brexit businessman and inventor known for his vacuums, who also owns a farming business.
The government has promised to retain current subsidies until 2022, but dropped strong hints that thereafter, the rich might have to pay more of their own way.
In July, Michael Gove, the secretary of state for food, the environment and rural affairs, criticized a European farm subsidy system that “rewards size of landholding ahead of good environmental practice, and all too often puts resources in the hands of the already wealthy rather than into the common good of our shared natural environment.”
Decisions have yet to be made, but ministers are studying ways to shift cash from farmers with large estates to those struggling with smaller holdings.
Buckingham Palace said the subsidies for Sandringham also include payments for a separate estate,…