The supposed political neutrality of the British monarchy has again been put in doubt.
According to news media reports the personal interests of Queen Windsor may be having an effect on the shaping of government policy on reducing the harm caused by gambling machines in betting shops.
A government review of the gambling industry is looking at controls on machines on which games like roulette can be played and which can quickly create huge losses for gamblers.
Queen Windsor enjoys watching the horses race at the Vodafone Derby
Stricter controls on these machines would reduce the profits of betting shop companies. This would lower the tax revenue generated by the “levy”, a tax on bookies’ profits from horse racing which is used to partially fund the horse-racing business.
Queen Windsor is a horse owner and horse racing fan.
According to the Financial Times betting industry executives believe that the interest of Prime Minister Theresa May in how the law might be changed to tackle this problem “has grown following weekly audiences with the Queen, a racehorse owner and enthusiast”.
One “senior government figure” did tell the FT that Windsor was not in fact influencing policy. S/he told the newspaper that “Do we know she (queen Windsor) has an interest in the Levy? Yes. But [that does not mean] the prime minister has a load of briefing notes on the subject.”
However, as the content of meetings between the prime minister and queen Windsor are secret there is no way for citizens to be certain of whether of not Windsor’s interests are again being put above the public good.