Wed, Jun 28, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Queen, family offer good value for money, aides say

SOVEREIGN GRANT:The cost of the monarchy to every Briton last year was just £0.65 — the price of a postage stamp, the Keeper of the Privy Purse said

Reuters, LONDON

Queen Elizabeth II, center left, presents the Diamond Jubilee Stakes Cup after it was won by The Tin Man ridden by Tom Queally, not pictured, on the fifth day of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse near London on Saturday.

Photo: EPA

British royal aides yesterday said that Queen Elizabeth II and her family provide excellent value for money as accounts showed the amount of taxpayer funds they will get this year will almost double to cover essential repairs to Buckingham Palace.

Official figures show that the royals received £42.8 million (US$54.5 million) in 2016 to 2017 from the Sovereign Grant, the government handout that covers the running costs of the queen’s household and travel expenses.

That figure is set to rise to £76.1 million after the government agreed to an increase to pay for a £369 million, 10-year refurbishment of Buckingham Palace, whose aging electrical wiring, water pipes and heating system are in urgent need of repair.

Keeper of the Privy Purse Alan Reid said that the cost of the monarchy to every Briton last year amounted to £0.65 — the cost of a first-class postage stamp.

“When you consider that against what the queen does and represents for this country, I believe it represents excellent value for money,” Reid said.

The royal family carried out more than 3,000 official engagements last year, with the 91-year-old queen attending 162 and her husband, Prince Philip, performing 196, Reid said.

Philip, 96, who needed hospital treatment for an infection last week, announced last month he would retire from public life later this year.

Opinion polls show that the queen remains hugely popular with Britons and at least two-thirds indicate they want the monarchy, which traces its royal line back to a Norman invasion in 1066, to continue.

Anti-monarchy republicans in Britain say the true annual cost of the royals to taxpayers is hundreds of millions of pounds, because security expenditure is not included, while newspapers have often been critical of the amount spent on minor royals and travel expenses.

The Sovereign Grant is calculated based on 15 percent of surplus revenue from the Crown Estate — a property portfolio belonging to the monarchy — two years previously and has grown rapidly since the system was introduced five years ago, with the royals receiving £31 million in 2013.

The money covers staffing costs and upkeep of royal palaces, like £1.2 million spent on replacing the Orangery Doors at Windsor Castle that had become inoperable due to rot and decay.

In November last year, the government agreed to raise the grant to 25 percent of Crown Estate surplus to pay for the overhaul of Buckingham Palace while allowing it to remain occupied.

The bill for travel last year and this year amounted to £4.5 million, with heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles’ visit to Italy, Romania and Austria at the end of March the most expensive at £154,000.

Meanwhile the royal train, which was used about 14 times last year, cost about £900,000.

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