Queen costs taxpayers extra £200,000

The Queen Royal finances are in transition as the old system is phased out and a new funding model comes in

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The cost to the taxpayer of supporting the British monarchy has risen by £200,000 in the last financial year, Buckingham Palace accounts show.

The Queen's official expenditure totaled £32.3m in 2011/12 - up 0.6% from £32.1m in 2010/11.

But the palace said expenditure had fallen by 26% in real terms from a level of £36.5m three years ago.

Last year saw a fall in the Civil List, most of which pays wages, but royal travel and upkeep of residences rose.

Sir Alan Reid, keeper of the privy purse, said: "When the chancellor of the exchequer announced his plans for public expenditure to reduce by 25% in real terms over a four-year period, the Queen was very keen that the Royal Household should play its part in reducing its expenditure accordingly."

The cost of running the palace press office, official website and providing public information fell from £500,000 2010/11 to £400,000 last year.

Spending on royal residences and other buildings rose from £11.9m to £12.2m, while the cost of air and rail travel increased from £6m to £6.1m.

The accounts show travel undertaken by the Duke of York in his former role as UK trade envoy, with seven trips last year costing a total of £358,000.

These included an £81,000 visit to Saudi Arabia, and a trip to Thailand, Malaysia and China that cost £72,000.

Prince Andrew stepped down from the envoy role last year.

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said: "The price of royal travel is what tends to excite attention year in, year out."

'Hidden' cost

At a time of cuts, the palace is keen to portray itself as an institution which is sharing the pain.

But there are two challenges to this narrative.

Firstly, the published accounts never include the security bill. When Zara Phillips got married, the wedding of the Queen's granddaughter set Scottish police back £400,000.

And secondly, the talk of a pay freeze and income-generating schemes runs the risk of being overshadowed by the £6.1m royal travel bill.

A Prince Andrew charter flight to Saudi Arabia cost £81,000; a Prince Charles royal train journey was £38,016.

Supporters argue expenditure has gone down, in real terms.

Critics call for greater transparency, including publication of the Queen's tax bill.

An official said they'd never comment on her tax, but stressed the Queen wasn't involved in "any Jimmy Carr schemes".

The accounts do not show the cost of security for the Royal Family.

The campaign group Republic, which calls for an elected head of state, estimates that the total cost of the monarchy is £202.4m a year, which breaks down to £12.7m on each of the 16 working royals.

Even based on Buckingham Palace's figures, Republic says that taxpayers are spending five times more on each member of the Royal Family than on a front-line soldier in Afghanistan.

"The actual, real cost is still being hidden," said Republic chief executive Graham Smith.

"The accounts are not being properly opened up to scrutiny."

But Thomas Mace Archer Mills, chairman of the British Monarchist Society, said that the Royal Family had slashed its expenditure from more then £80m in the mid-1980s.

"Her Majesty is a frugal person, and she has proved so by reducing her cost to the public," he said.

If the monarchy was abolished, costs would remain - such as for security - for whatever head of state replaced it, he said.

"The current polls have shown that the Queen and the Royal Family are as popular as they have ever been since she came to the throne," he added.

Jubilee year

From next year the Royal Family will be funded by a Sovereign Grant, set at 15% of profits made by the Crown Estate two years previously.

This funding model replaces the system under which the Queen receives money from three different government departments.

It is seen as the biggest change to the financing of the Royal Family for 250 years.

The grant is expected to be about £34m in the first year, in line with recent royal spending.

Before the new formula kicks in, a grant of £31m has been set for 2012/13.

"Expenditure during this Diamond Jubilee year will require the use of reserves as the first year of the Sovereign Grant provides for funding of only £31m," said Sir Alan.


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  • Comment number 848.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    Queen Elizabeth 2nd has served this country from an early age, throughout the Second World War her family stayed in the UK. Through thick and thin she has been a constant for us all, ELECTED head of state?, look how our elected Representatives behave, is Cameron an inspiration?. Perhaps if she was allowed to speak out for the suffering of her people things would be better in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    Can't believe the sheep who are saying the Queen and estate bring in money in excess of what's paid out by us. The estates should be state property, not private as they were taken from us and tourists come to gawp at palaces not the Royals. If we have to have such massive spending cuts - show us that 'we're all in this together'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Interested to see how much we'd lose if the republicans got their way and abolished the queen? Net saving £35m. Net loss as the queen and all royals start to run their accounts to the letter of the law instead of the spirit? We're talking the difference between paying 30-40% tax vs paying nearer 1-5% like the rest of the rich do. Just off Lancaster and Cornwall you're talking -£250m pa net

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    I do believe that the taxpayers should not be funding the Monarchy, they are wealthy enough to fund themselves. During a time of economic crisis and people struggling to survive from day to day, why should our hard earned money be lining the pockets of the Royal Family when it should be in our back pockets when queuing up in the supermarket to buy food for our family.


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