A civil servant persuaded former Prime Minister John Major not to refer to “the priceless contribution” of queen Windsor to “the life of our nation”. He thought that the word “priceless” might seem to be a reference to Windsor’s exemption from tax on her huge unearned wealth.
This happened in 1992, the fortieth anniversary of Ms Windsor take over as hereditary head of state. Mr Major was to pay tribute to the feudal leader in the House of Commons. He rejected the speech prepared by civil servants in favour of his own words.
When Private Secretary William Chapman saw Major’s wording he wrote him a note. He asked “Is this quite the mot juste (most appropriate word)? In view of the Queen’s tax exemption it could indeed be said that her contribution has been without price”.
Chapman revealed his own monarchist bias in two other ways. He told Major that he thought Windsor was “Cheap at the price”. He also objected to the Prime Minister’s reference to “our fellow citizens”. The people of the UK, he suggested, should be referred to as “subjects” of the Windsor queen.
The revelations came from papers newly released by the National Archives.