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Last Updated: Monday, 27 June, 2005, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Is the Royal Family worth 36.7m?
Members of the Royal Family
The British Royal Family cost the taxpayer 36.7m last year. Does it represent value for money?

Buckingham Palace said the figure, equivalent to 61p per taxpayer, was at its lowest since 2001 and had fallen 2.3% in real terms since 2003-4.

The accounts showed that an official trip by the Prince of Wales to Sri Lanka, Australia and back from Fiji on a chartered plane cost nearly 300,000.

Are you surprised by the figures? Are you happy for taxpayers to pay for the Royal Family? Does it represent good value for money or not?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Why don't the tabloids just leave them alone?
Ian Martin, Lowestoft
The Royal Family is an essential part of what is left of English sovereignty and heritage. I would be willing to pay a lot lot more than what they are costing at the moment! Why don't the tabloids just leave them alone?
Ian Martin, Lowestoft

What proportion of the Royal family is actually well known abroad? I see little reason to pay out for those members who do little work for the country but still receive the benefits.
Ben, Kent, UK

If the monarchy brings so much money into the country, then why not make it history, open Buck palace as a museum, and farm out the royals to the highest bidder, speaking tours, guest appearances etc. Let the market decide. If they can't turn a profit then they should be nationalised under democratic control.
Graeme Jones, Bristol, UK

They occupy a very important constitutional position, and their absence would then require that position to be filled. However, chartering planes is ridiculous. If regular first class isn't adequate, it would be interesting to know the reason why. The Queen has always been dutiful. Things may be different with the next monarch.
Bernadette, Canada

Many of the comments here seem to be saying that Britain should keep the Royal Family for entertainment value. That is fine if you like. Please, just be honest regarding the purpose.
Paul Watson, Texas, USA

They are unaccountable and unnecessary
Simon, Woodbridge, UK
This figure may seem reasonable (and I admit it is not too expensive) but this is an irrelevance. It doesn't matter how much the Royal Family costs us because they are unaccountable and unnecessary. They must go.
Simon, Woodbridge, UK

For a little more tan a 1p per week the Royals provide fabulous entertainment and represent enormous value for money. Well done them. I wonder how much Eastenders costs the taxpayer via the BBC licence fee in comparison. On a more serious note and to provide a full and proper financial analysis it would be interesting to note revenue created directly and indirectly by the royals.
James, London UK

Any remaining grumblers should be reminded that the taxpayer profits from the vast income from the Crown Estate, which owns great chunks of London, including Regent Street. Each monarch signs over these profits to the government in exchange for the much, much smaller Civil List. Perhaps Prince Charles should refuse to sign them over when the time comes and avoid the comments of MPs that no one has ever heard of.
Richard Cross, London, England

Yes, I think they are worth it. Things are starting to turn around for the Royal Family after a long time. I think Camilla has gone down better than anyone could have thought. They could do with being a bit more people friendly and a bit less extravagant with their mode of travelling, but yes, they are good value. Would you really want someone like Bush instead?
Tricia Cousins, Ontario Canada & Basingstoke UK

Consider the billions spent by the government on needless administration
Alan, Perth, Scotland
The Royals don't cost the taxpayer a penny. The amount is paid from the Crown Estates which the Queen gave to the government in return for an income each year. The estates produce far more than 37m a year so the Royals are actually subsidising the rest of us. If you want to see where your money goes, consider the billions spent by the government on needless administration.
Alan, Perth, Scotland

If the Royal Family were to suddenly disappear, the effect on the British economy would be staggering. Just think of the massive layoffs at the tabloids that would ensue, not to mention television commentators and unauthorized biographers.
Brian, Kansas City, USA

Dear Fellow Britons, please be aware that I am prepared to open buildings, award knighthoods and have multiple official birthdays for only 50p from each of you. I have no wish to visit Aberdeen or Plymouth so have already saved you 45,000, thus proving that I am already a right royal bargain.
Nigel Rees, Milford, CT, USA

People should show more respect for the institution of the monarchy and the benefits it has created for this country - bring back the royal yacht - and don't forget how much Tony's special advisers cost!
James Ormerod, Berkshire

A total waste of money. We paid our council tax. What do we get in return? Poorly managed roads, poorly run hospitals and many more. Yet outside Buckingham Palace, it has extremely good roads. I would rather the money to be invested in a more wise way than investing on the Royal Family for not doing anything!!
Christina Spybey, London, UK

This crucial part of our history, culture and nation costs so little to the taxpayer
David Mercier, Kent, UK
61p won't buy you a can of Fanta these days. How can anyone complain when this crucial part of our history, culture and nation costs so little to the taxpayer. Are those against the monarchy aware of how much in terms of tourism and even trade the Royals make for us?
David Mercier, Kent, UK

Surprised it is not double. And even at double 36.7m it would be amazing value for money. Just look at their websites and see what appointments and engagements and work is being done for Britain and its people. And most of the time all they get is criticism and poor press - mainly from the newspapers.
Martin Sims, UK

I do not know the exact role of the Royal Family in Britain, as to compare with other royal families in other countries. In my country of the South Sudan, the royal family in Otuho community represents the very fabric of life for the Otuho people. The Otuho tribe depend on the royal family for the rain they presumably think to represent. And so in exchange for that gift, the Royal Family receives the most highest respect.
Paul Obula, Sudan

I expect the majority of people will be short sighted and will only see this initial figure 36.7m. However, this figure does not include money bought in to the UK economy through tourism etc, as a direct result of the British Royal Family. When this figure is included, the real cost would be far lower.
Stewart, Toronto

C'mon Brits, make up your minds; you either want a royal family of the kind you currently have, or you don't. If you do, you must be willing to pay for it without these rituals of yearly humiliation. And if you don't, make your views known in an emphatic manner.
UE, UK/Nigeria

Let's put this into perspective shall we? The Monarchy costs us as much as 36 hours worth of financial contributions to the EU. That's a drop in the ocean and hardly worth discussing.
Alastair, Taunton, UK

I think they are great, doing an incredible job that none of us would be prepared to do, without thanks or appreciation. I'll willingly pay anyone's 61p a year. It is unbelievable how mean minded people are. Great value for money, would willingly pay more and we should be grateful. People are too ready to find fault and complain instead of allowing others to enjoy and appreciate what they do.
Hilary Mills, Bishops Stortford UK

These figures are impossible to justify
G Tollan, London
125k for Andrew to go to the Far East, 45K for Charles to travel from Aberdeen to Plymouth. These figures are impossible to justify. The democratic thing to do would remove these costs and use the money more wisely on things taxpayers care about and need i.e. health, education, public transport.
G Tollan, London

I resent paying any money for an unelected head of state.
Peter Armitage, Bishop's Stortford, England

The costs on their own are meaningless, we need to put a figure on the boost to tourism, and the benefit from those "trips to promote our interests" to know if we are getting a good deal or not. I suspect we are though.
JK, London

What an odd justification for a political institution, that it gives value for money, or that it costs two pints of milk or a loaf of bread. Imagine similar arguments being used to justify the US presidency or the UK Parliament ... it speaks to an unspoken suspicion - unspoken in this article - of why the monarchy and the queen is there in the first place.
Lowell Denny, Los Angeles, CA - USA

On balance, I'm a (very) reluctant monarchist
Paul, London, UK
Has anyone done any research on the value to Britain of the Royal family in terms of tourism? Many tourists come because of our heritage/history, which is part of our 'brand' overseas. The Royal Family is central to that brand. By how much would tourist receipts drop if we were a republic? We'd still have the palaces and castles, but there would surely be some damage to the brand. On balance, I'm a (very) reluctant monarchist - don't like the people, don't like the values, but I welcome the money they bring to the UK.
Paul, London, UK

This is 2005 and it is really about time that Prince Charles and Prince Andrew learnt to be more like the rest of us, why can they not take scheduled flights I bet if the money was coming out of their own purse they would be more circumspect!
Josie Crockett, Edinburgh

Considering the millions, perhaps billions of pounds in tourism-related revenue that the monarchy helps to pull into the UK, I would say the Royal Family is an excellent investment!
Amit Kar, Muscat, Oman

I was lucky enough to meet the queen during a visit to our hospital a few years ago and the excitement and happiness that her visit gave our patients was immeasurable. Yes, the costs of keeping the Royal Family are high but personally I am happy to pay my 61p a year to pay for work like this.
Myke Duncan, Scarborough

61p? Sounds like good value to me
Robin Thompson, Hull, UK

It is unfair to assess the Royal family purely in terms of cost
Rajan Russell, London, England
I cycle past Buckingham Palace very frequently. There are always hundreds of tourists outside and in the surrounding areas - all of those people bring revenue to this country. I think it is unfair to assess the Royal family purely in terms of cost. The revenue side of the equation must be borne in mind too. The cost of the Royal family at 0.00002% of GDP strikes me as being very cheap.
Rajan Russell, London, England

The Royals are extremely good value for money. Any president would cost far more and produce far less in terms of reputation abroad and in attracting tourism income. Yes, they live luxurious lives, but politicians, whilst elected, fleece the country for much, much more whilst giving back very little indeed.
Doug Potter, Croydon, Surrey

I presume that train fare was at peak times then?
Tom, Newcastle

Outrageous. If they didn't travel abroad promoting British interests someone else would at much lower expense. I'm also in a fair amount of debt, much like most taxpayers, and am wondering why I should subsidise their lifestyle.
Anon, London

Are the Royals being ripped off? 45K for a train journey?!
Mike, Bournemouth, UK

They should use the money instead on poor and increase the tax credits. Instead of keeping the monarchy rich! And the poor, poor! We don't need this out of date institution. I wish someone would pay for me to fly to Scotland to play golf like the tax payer has done for Andrew. Who cares that the amount is less than years previously and they are paying more tax. We all pay more tax!
Aubrey Moore, Doncaster, South Yorkshire

But how much do they bring into the country?
Paul Harrison, Gillingham, Kent
But how much do they bring into the country? They are a massive tourist attraction, they also operate strongly in the business world to bring large amounts of trade into the country.
Paul Harrison, Gillingham, Kent

What happened to equality, why chartered flights, trains and helicopters? Why don't they use economy class and public transport like the rest of us?
Nicos Nicolaou, Bristol

Well, that kind of blows the argument for scrapping the monarchy due to costs out of the water. Only 61p. I'd like to know how much it is estimated they bring to the economy through tourism and promoting the UK, I'm willing to bet it's a lot more than 61p each.
Lee, Portsmouth, UK

This is such a misleading headline. The Royals get the civil list in return for the state getting the revenues from the crown estates (their property if you believe in property) - which are considerably more than the civil list. In effect, they pay us for being there. That also shows you that in effect they do pay taxes and lots of it. Charles would be quite right to not sign over the crown estates when he becomes King. It's a very bad deal. But let him be taxed like the rest of us too.
Greg Heys, Bristol

I see it cost 45,000 for Charles to travel by train from Aberdeen to Plymouth. That's in line with normal UK rail fares, so well done Charles for taking standard class off-peak!
Michael, Herts

Let us not forget that 36.7m is chicken feed in the context of government expenditure
Chris Tarbitten, Corsham, Wiltshire
61p a year, what a bargain! For the amount of publicity that the Queen gives our country and revenue that the whole royal thing brings in, well worth the money. Let us not forget that 36.7m is chicken feed in the context of government expenditure.
Chris Tarbitten, Corsham, Wiltshire

That's another 37m that could be used to improve hospitals and schools, many people say the queen serves as a tourist attraction; I have yet to see the Queen stood on the balcony of Buckingham Palace welcoming tourists. I have seen images of the Royal Family riding motor cycles and flying around in helicopters, at our expense!
Ryan Davies, Swansea, Wales

As a Brit (temporarily) living in the US I have become more pro-monarchy since moving here. The alternative, a president, would just leave the country with another politician who would need to be elected - no doubt by a minority due to low turn-out - and probably cost as much to "run". I would be interested to know how much Tony Blair "costs" the UK taxpayer?
William Gosling, Melbourne, Florida, USA

What a complete waste of taxpayers' time and money. Charities like Oxfam ask people for a few pounds a month to help children in the third world get clean water and a few scraps of food. How far would the 45,000 that the Prince of Wales spent on a train journey go? Could the Royal Family just not travel the same way as businessmen and donate their 'profit' to people who really need it?
Tom, London, UK

While I have no real love for the monarchy I do think it has to be said that the Royal Family make far more for this country through tourism and business promotion that they take out for chartered flights and private trains. Yes, costs need to come down however, I think people really need to start looking at the bigger picture.
Will, Sheffield




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