Open government does not appear to extend to the Royal Family

Many documents concerning the Royal Family may be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. The Royal Household is not defined as a public authority under the Act and is therefore exempt.

However, despite its exemption, the Royal Household says its policy is to be as open as possible by being accountable for its use of public money. Examples of this include the publication of full details of public funding of the Head of State which have been provided since 2001. An Annual Report is published in June of each year, which incorporates Civil List payments to Royals and the Grants-in-Aid for royal travel, maintenance of the occupied royal palaces and communications.

Some of the information that public authorities hold about the Royal Family may fall under absolute exemptions. However, other information could be subject to the public interest test. The test is whether or not the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it. But information that may simply interest the public may not be the same as the information that would be disclosed in the public interest.

However, documents that originate in the Royal Household and are held by public authorities which are subject to the Public Records Act (e.g. the National Archives) are public records and applications can be made for their release.

Royal Papers May Be Exempt from Freedom of Information Act (The Scotsman, 7 January 2005)