Spending on monarchy up by £900,000 to £33.3m

The Queen The Crown Estate increased its profits to £252.6m in the 2012-13 financial year

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Government spending on the monarchy rose by almost £1m to £33.3m in the last financial year, Buckingham Palace accounts have revealed.

The Queen's official expenditure increased by £900,000 in 2012-13, compared to the previous 12 months.

Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said the figure was a "real terms reduction".

The grant paid to the monarchy is calculated as 15% of money paid by the Crown Estate to the government.

The estate, which includes property across the UK, increased its profits by 5% to £252.6m in 2012-13.

The Queen's official expenditure excludes the costs of police and Army security and armed services ceremonies.

Palace maintenance

Royal staff costs rose from £17.5m to £18.3m in 2012-13, while the cost of maintaining royal buildings increased by £200,000 to £9.1m.

The most expensive royal trip was the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's Diamond Jubilee tour of South East Asia and the South Pacific, which cost almost £370,000, including a planning visit in advance by staff.

The accounts also revealed £1m had been spent repairing and refurbishing the Kensington Palace apartment where Prince William and his wife will live.

The overall cost of official air and rail travel at home and abroad fell by £500,000 to £4.5m.

From the public purse, an undisclosed but large sum is spent on royal security; Prince Philip receives an annual allowance of £359,000; and there's the Sovereign Grant.

It was £33.3m in 2012/13, £36.1m in the current year and will rise to 37.9m the next year.

Such rises at a time of austerity are potentially uncomfortable but at a briefing a royal official said he was happy to live with a "day's discomfort".

The reality, he said, was that they needed the money in order to tackle a very significant backlog of property repairs to royal residences which are maintained for the nation.

These annual briefings - the focus this time was the Diamond Jubilee year - often throw up odd nuggets about the ways royals function.

In 2012, we learnt, the cost of laundry increased by £200,000; 20% of the Queen's employees belonged to a union; and Princess Michael of Kent flew on a budget airline.

Sir Alan said: "The royal household has continued to reduce its expenditure funded by the taxpayer in successive years since 2008-9, achieving a real terms reduction of 24% over the last five years."

The 2.6% spending increase in 2012-13 represented a real terms decrease of 0.2%, he added.

Public money used to fund the Royal Family, known as the Sovereign Grant, is expected to rise to £36.1m in the current financial year and £37.9m in 2014-15.

Sir Alan said a "significant part" of the increase for the current year will be used to "tackle a backlog in essential property maintenance at the working royal palaces".

Asked whether David Cameron supported the increase to the Sovereign Grant, a No 10 spokesman said: "There is a process that is gone through. I don't think the Prime Minister disagrees with that process."

'Lavish lifestyle'

Graham Smith, chief executive of campaign group Republic, said it was "unbelievable" the Queen would "sit silently by as she is handed millions more in public money".

He added: "The Crown Estate is not - and never has been - the personal property of the royals.

"The Windsors have no more right to its revenue than I do. To claim that it should fund their lavish lifestyle is deceitful and dishonest."

The Crown Estate, now worth an estimated £8.1bn, does not include the private property of the Queen.

The estate owns a vast range of property, from large parts of London's West End to 15 retail parks in cities including Liverpool, Swansea and Nottingham.

It also manages the seabed around the UK to a 12-mile limit, and has been involved in the creation of offshore wind farms.

The Sovereign Grant is worked out as 15% of the Crown Estate profit from two years previously, so the estate's £240.2m profit in 2011-12 led to the £36.1m grant for the current year.

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