Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Sid Salter: Queen Owned, Later Divested Interests in Mississippi Cotton Plantation

In the interest of not “burying the lead,” let me note that although she never set foot in the State of Mississippi or cast her eyes on the alluvial fan of the mythical and mystic Mississippi Delta region, the late Queen Elizabeth II was by virtue of her investment portfolio the owner of a “mammoth” cotton plantation in Bolivar County, Mississippi.

It was known as Queen’s Farm in Scott, Mississippi. Black sharecroppers primarily worked it. But first, some context.

Like most Mississippians, the only ruler on the throne of the British monarchy during my lifetime was up until last week Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. I am now in my early 60s.

At her death last week at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at the age of 96, Queen Elizabeth II was a beloved and iconic figure not just among her subjects in the British empire but globally. She was the embodiment of the British “stiff upper lip” and a formidable woman who led her nation from the ruin of two world wars into a new century.

The Queen was 13 when World War II broke out. She and her family stayed at Buckingham Palace when the bombing began in London in solidarity with their subjects. When she turned 18, Elizabeth joined the women’s section of the British Army – training and serving as an auto mechanic. When the war ended, she joined the celebration with her subjects – dancing in the streets of Trafalgar Square in her uniform.

She was a faithful friend and ally to the United States in peace and war. There was a dignity about her – even in the modern era when her own country criticized the institution of the monarchy and when the bad and often very human behavior of members of the royal family deepened that criticism - that was unwavering.

American presidents sought audiences with her, as did world leaders and figures in pop culture and sports. She was the most photographed woman in history – with her image adorning currency, postage stamps and advertising gimmicks around the world.

At her passing, the Queen held a personal fortune estimated at some $520 million, mostly real estate based. The assets of the British monarchy as an institution (mostly held in the Crown Estate) are estimated at $88 billion.

As one might imagine, the monarchy held properties around the globe. A lesser-known holding was in Bolivar County, Mississippi. As of 1968, the Queen through investment in the British textile company Courtaulds owned an interest in a 38,000-acre cotton plantation in Mississippi. 

Historian and cotton plantation system scholar Lawrence J. Nelson published a 1984 article in The Journal of Southern History examining The Queen’s Farm and the Delta & Pine Land Company in which Queen Elizabeth II was an investor:

This mammoth operation . . . was by far the largest cotton plantation in the American South, rambling over nearly 60 square miles (about 38,000 acres) of the fertile Mississippi Delta. A significant factor in the financial and social success of this essentially British-owned plantation was the leadership of its president, Oscar Goodbar Johnston, a native Mississippian who had had careers in banking, planting, politics, and at the bar. 

“Of keen intellect and strong personality and will, Johnston was 47 years old when he assumed the presidency of a failing plantation in 1927 and steered it through the economic morass of the Great Depression. After ten years of his management, Delta & Pine Land's accounts showed 6 black years, 3 red - a remarkable achievement owing in part to astute leadership and in part to the cotton (subsidy) programs of the New Deal,” Nelson wrote.

After the Queen’s investment, it was revealed that the British company had received approximately $1.5 million in U.S. crop subsidies. In 1971, The New York Times reported congressional action to enact ceilings on price supports for individual farms. The measure passed the U.S. House over the opposition of then-House Speaker Carl Albert and then-Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford. Ford would later dance with the Queen at the White House as president.

The Queen’s interests in Courtaulds later dissolved into the company and Delta & Pine Land was sold first to Monsanto and then ultimately to Bayer, a German multinational company.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at



Anonymous said...

1. So what? A lot of people own land in Mississippi.

2. I thought we kicked the British out back in the 1700s.

Anonymous said...

We are Americans.
Only women and punkass bitches care about British “royals” so which one is Sidney?

Anonymous said...

Filed under “So what, Sid?”

Anonymous said...

I don’t get it. Why are some people so desperate to look for “ties” to Mississippi? It’s so cringe.
I am working my butt off to get out of this place and hide my accent.
I plan to tell people that I am from Mobile, AL.

Anonymous said...

The point is, the monarchy was, and to some lesser extent still is, representative of a colonial system of exploitation which was so large that it was completely impersonal. The Queen herself had no idea what her money was doing. It's very corporate, therefore it remains relevant. Sorry, poor sharecroppers, nothing personal.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Sid, for this interesting piece of history.

Anonymous said...

8:13 AM personifies why Mississippi ranks near or at the bottom of the American economy.

Anonymous said...

How much of a simpleton must Sid be to think that the Queen of England would actually know or care how her money was invested?

Anonymous said...

If Britain were to join the United States, it would be the second-poorest state, behind Alabama and ahead of Mississippi. Folks who fawn over Brits and trash talk Mississippi are woefully ignorant of reality.

And, no, I'm not surprised we taxpayers subsidize not only Northeast Jerkson "royalty" but the real ones in the UK. The "elite" (retch, LMAO) are propped up by the middle class, whom they ream on a constant basis.

Anonymous said...

8.38 Mobile? That will show them.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see your true colors 8:13. That ancient mindset is why Mississippi is struggling to this day

Anonymous said...

"He managed the plantation for ten years, 6 in the black and 3 in the red."

Is Sid a product of Common Core arithmetic?

Anonymous said...

I don't get the hate. It's a cool story. I would kind of like to back to 1927 and not have to deal with this thing called social media.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sid, interesting bit of history to know. At least for some of us that do things besides bitch all the time.

Had a lot of dealings with Delta & Pine and its leaders in the 80's and it was a monster farming operation and well run; didn't know that the Queen had holdings in it at one time.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Show me you don't get it in less than 100 words...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. Another interesting part of our incredibility complex state history.

Don Drane (Lovin' the Smell of Defoliant) said...

So, Sidney, The Queen, as important an icon as the lady has been, has never heard of the Mississippi Delta and couldn't have found it on a world map with the help of her aides.

Her Trust, at one time in our history, might have included a few shares of stock in the land (and corporation), but, to your point...She didn't OWN jack! She hasn't pumped gas, cut grass, bought stock or plugged in a crock-pot in sixty years, much less owned cotton land.

As a long-time Delta native and resident, now an ex-patriot, I'm real thankful you didn't continue your Clarion-Ledger racial-style and paint her as the owner of slaves picking cotton in the stifling heat of our Mississippi Delta plantation land.

PS: Lorne Green of Bonanza-fame once owned a landing strip at a Bolivar County Hunting club. Run that one down if you can find a racial angle.

Anonymous said...

"Sid Salter: Queen Owned Mississippi Cotton Plantation"

That has to be one of the most goofy "click bait tags" to ever come from Sid's weekly column.

( But come to think of it ,,, I think I did see Her Majesty in Greenville a few years ago).

She was sitting in the kitchen of Doe's Eat Place drinking beer with Robert Plant & Richard Grant.
Seems their discussion was about a "Dispatches from Pluto" movie and a
Led Zeppelin reunion concert in Itta Bena.

Anonymous said...

Since this has become a history lesson ...

Does Sid even know we were once a British Crown Colony ?
The British Monarchy has owned land in Mississippi since the 1760s.

At the start of the American Revolution, there were actually 15 colonies. Mississippi was part of British West Florida.

We were number 15, with British East Florida being number 14.
Both remained loyal to the crown and refused to send delegates to the Continental Congress.

There's a stop on the Natchez Trace (just north of the Rez) that marks the exact border between the Crown lands and Choctaw lands.

Anonymous said...

The way things have played out, we would all be better off if the Brits had squashed the rebellion. Read your history and see who and what wanted to leave the crown. The Queen, without a doubt, had more class/couth than anyone who was president of our country. One must understand that the most efficient form of government is a benevolent dictatorship. The Queen comes very close.

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