Friday 6 December 2019

Queen asked for cash to do up her palaces, report reveals

Richard Alleyne in London

Queen Elizabeth has asked the British government for more money to deal with a growing backlog of repairs to Buckingham Palace and other royal residences, newly published accounts reveal.

The monarch received £11.9m (€13.2m) last year from the public purse to maintain and repair her homes, which also include Windsor Castle and St James's Palace.

But because the sum has been frozen in recent years, she claimed she could only carry out emergency repairs to the buildings and said she would need more money to stop the royal households from falling into disrepair.

The financial restraints meant that while a £3.5m (€3.9m) repair to the crumbling facade of Buckingham Palace went ahead, other key projects had to be put on hold. These included replacing the palace's lead and slate roofs, refurbishing state rooms and overhauling antiquated heating systems.

Buckingham Palace officials claimed that as well as postponing projects, the queen had diverted revenue from her estate to balance the books.

"However, these initiatives alone are unlikely to be successful in averting the growth in backlog in future years and further funding will be required in due course," officials concluded.

The claims were outlined in the queen's official expenditure accounts for the year to April.

They show that the overall cost of supporting the monarchy fell by £1.8m (€2m) to £32.1m (€35.5m), equivalent to a saving of about 3p per member of the British population and a cost of 51p per person.

Thanks to a slight reduction in staff from 111 to 106 and a pay freeze, civil list spending fell from £14.2m (€15.7m) to £13.7m (€15.1m) throughout the year.

Property management costs dropped from £15.4m (€17m) to pounds £11.9m (€13.2m) and maintaining website and press relations remained about the same at £500,000 (€553,309).

However, royal travel costs rose from £3.9m (€4.3m) to £6m (€6.64m).

This was mainly due to the household receiving a once-off payment of £1.5m (€1.66m) after trading in the old royal helicopter. However, more money was spent on charter flights after the RAF began charging the royal family full price for using its planes, instead of providing them "at cost".


The report listed £356,253 (€394,280) for charter flights during the queen and Prince Philip's state visit to Oman and the United Arab Emirates in November. Prince Charles and Camilla's trip to India, as part of an official foreign office visit last October, cost £298,089 (€329,907) in charter flights.

Alan Reid, keeper of the privy purse, said: "The queen is very keen that the royal household should continue to reduce its expenditure in line with public expenditure reductions.

"Over the past five years, the queen's official expenditure has reduced by 19pc in real terms and while the royal household will continue to identify efficiencies, it will be very difficult for overall expenditure to reduce very much further without impacting on the royal household's activities in support of the queen and the long-term health of the estate." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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