Who Actually Owns London?
Old disputes rage around the world this month as to who owns various lands that are currently under the British Crown.
But while the headlines read ΓÇÿFalkland IslandsΓÇÖ and ΓÇÿGibraltarΓÇÖ, the question weΓÇÖre asking is this: who actually owns London?
The answer might not be as straight forward as you think.
The Crown Estate
Look, politically, no oneΓÇÖs taking London away from the Queen ΓÇô especially so soon after her 60th anniversary. It is true that Britain is a monarchy and, as such, the Queen is the rightful owner of the land we live on.
But Britain is also capitalist and subscribes to the belief that he or she who has the biggest slice of the pie is the winner. Under those terms, the Queen is not technically the owner of that much.
You might get an inkling of who really owns London each time you bump in to a sign that says ΓÇÿEnjoy this private estate respectfully.ΓÇÖ Ah, the private estate. ItΓÇÖs a phenomena becoming more popular than not in the capital city, as more and more of the ground we walk on belongs to a private owner who can ask you to leave and have the legal right to make you do so.
Case in point: Granary Square in KingΓÇÖs Cross. While labelled one of ΓÇÿthe biggest public spaces in EuropeΓÇÖ, it is in fact a conglomerate of 10 plazas and parklands all of which make up a privately-owned estate. The Olympic Park is a private estate, too ΓÇô as is most of New Covent Garden Market and, of course, Canary Wharf.
The PeopleΓÇÖs City, it is not.
The Real Shareholders
So who owns all this land we keep wandering on to? YouΓÇÖd be forgiven for thinking of the lingering remains of a British aristocracy or of the property moguls Foxtons, the Candy brothers or Max Properties. But youΓÇÖd be thinking too close to home.
The land youΓÇÖre walking is probably German. Or second likely American, followed by Saudi Arabian, Japanese, French, Libyan or Irish ΓÇô the list really does go on.
The majority of London is owned by combined foreign investment ΓÇô the most significant portion of which is German.
But before you start hording canned goods, you should know that this doesnΓÇÖt make London at all unique among world cities, most of which are owned at least in part by foreign investors.
ItΓÇÖs true that our fair capital is the place where the most money is spent ΓÇô and IΓÇÖm sure weΓÇÖre all quite flattered ΓÇô but weΓÇÖre actually only third in the most-owned-by-other-people stakes.