A history group has unearthed an unhonoured contract with Elizabeth I to dredge a river and has presented the current Queen with the bill – for £8 BILLION.
Her Majesty has been landed with the massive invoice after local residents found an ancient document detailing a royal promise made almost 450 years ago.
It shows that in 1572 Queen Elizabeth I agreed to pay for dredging the River Stour in Kent – but the money never materialised.
Now a local group – who meet for coffee every week to discuss history – has uncovered the original promissory note.
They say the debt should have passed down through the Monarchy and have calculated the debt adjusted for inflation now stands at nearly £8 billion.
The paperwork outlining the historic agreement was unearthed by Haven Cafe’s Breakfast Club in Sandwich, Kent.
The club decided to take up the cause, and wrote to the Queen, asking if there was any word yet on the money.
They cheekily asked Her Majesty to fork out the cash but said as a gesture of good will they would settle for a mere £7 billion.
But they were rebuffed in a polite response from Lady-in-Waiting Philippa de Pass.
She wrote: “The Queen was interested to know of the historical accounts you discovered in which you say Queen Elizabeth I came to Sandwich in 1572.
“Although unable to reply to you personally, Her Majesty hopes you have enjoyed looking at the activities and records written so very many years ago.
“I am to send you The Queen‘s good wishes and thank you for your thought for Her Majesty in writing as you did.”
Group member and history buff Ron Coleman said: “We had almost lost hope when the reply came but we were pleasantly surprised, and indeed honoured, that she responded.
“Now then, the lack of a substantive reply to the serious matter of the silting of the Stour is less than satisfactory and we feel that a more considered explanation is necessary.
“If Her Majesty believes that a polite brush off is going to settle the issue I fear she is going to be very disappointed.
“One of our members, an accountant, has calculated the subsequent loss of income to Sandwich over the 444 years allowing for inflation to be not less than £8 billion.
“We don’t want to be unreasonable and suggest that our present mayor should settle for £7 billion.”
Forbes magazine estimated the Queen‘s net worth at around about £325 million in 2011.
An analysis by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index put it at about £275 million in 2015.
According to the Sunday Times Rich List 2015, her estimated fortune is £340m, up £10m from last year.
Grandfather-of-three Ron Coleman read about Queen Elizabeth I’s visit in his vast collection of history books – when he discovered the surprising revelation.
The river became blocked from the loose sand and silt, which had a knock-on effect for the town’s trade, which was wholly reliant on it.
Ron, 74, said: “I understand it was the second biggest port outside London.
“There was a lot of trade. The river in those days was much, much wider and it silted up.It happened very quickly.
“Silt would be coming down the river.
“The river is tidal, there is a lot of movement of the sands and the combination of these two things is the river was getting narrower and more shallow.
“All of a sudden, the town was not fit for purpose. It had a huge effect.
“And in the aftermath of that, the people of the town said could we not get some help?
“It was impossible for the town to trade, so they were all very upset.”
This led the town’s mayor to send an invitation to Queen Elizabeth I to visit Sandwich.
Ron said: “She didn’t travel alone, the best part of 200 people apparently came, and they stayed. They had a good time.
“Just before she left, the mayor presented to her a document – a submission – saying could you please help us with this? And she glanced at it, and said ‘thank you, I will read this with great interest, and will be back in touch’.
“And that was the last we heard.”
The letter sent by the club, entitled ‘Your majesty, R.E. 1572 visit’, said: “We are sorry to bother you, we know how very busy you are.
“Six days a week over breakfast, a group of about a dozen of us discuss a wide range of issues. Townsfolk have been getting together like this over many centuries.
“Looking through the minutes of such meetings, we have come across some unfinished business.”
Explaining the situation, the letter said: “The reason for inviting the Queen was to request funding for dredging the river Stour, which had become silted up and was causing problems for the ships which used the river for trade in the town.”
The group concluded: “We hope we are not being too pushy, but is there any word yet please?”
Ron, a retired salesman, said: “We thought we were not going to get an answer. They have taken it in good heart.
“We were delighted to hear from her majesty. We are very proud of the reply. We have a loyal toast and marmalade to her majesty every day.
“But on a serious matter, we are very disappointed she has not addressed the real issue. We hope that she does not consider the matter closed.
“Because we are in earnest and one of our members, an accountant, has done some calculations, and we reckon we are now worse off to the tune of £8 billion.
“We do not want to fall out with the Queen, and we think the current mayor should settle for £7 billion.
Fellow member Jim Minnock said: “People were surprised, especially the people we see every day. I was too when Ron came in and said I have got a letter from Buckingham Palace. I thought, ‘we are famous’.
“It is interesting. People must know about it I suppose.”
Asked if it had put his town on the map, the 72-year-old said: “I think Sandwich is on the map, because it is one of the Cinque Ports. It has always been known.”