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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Spending inside the House of Windsor
The Queen and European royals
Royal spending was up slightly on last year

For a peek into the royal coffers, I didn't go to a boardroom but a room inside the Queen's Gallery next to Buckingham Palace.

This was an upmarket location compared with last year.

Then, officials keen to demonstrate the savings produced by a new heating system, took journalists down to the Queen's boiler room for a briefing.

Keeper of the Privy Purse Sir Michael Peat
Sir Michael Peat is credited with saving "millions"
This morning I was met by a smiling Sir Michael Peat, the Queen's chief accountant. Or Keeper of the Privy Purse - to use his correct regal title.

"It's boring," he said, as his staff handed over four documents - 150 pages in total.

"Finances well managed are boring."

There were no flip charts or overhead projections, but plenty of figures.

The central aim was clear. These documents had been put together to demonstrate transparency and accountability inside the House of Windsor.

Sir Michael boasted that the Royal Household was one of, if not the most effective, and open users of public money.

Taken together, the documents show the annual cost to the tax payer of the monarchy.

Broken crockery

It amounts to more than 35m, slightly up on last year.

For the first time, the Palace has provided an annual breakdown of the Civil List - the money the Queen receives to undertake her duties as Head of State.

The Civil List accounts reveal where the money goes inside the Palaces.

Some 24,000 on flowers to decorate State Rooms may be viewed as a snip when compared with Sir Elton John's annual florist bill.

Dirty regal laundry costs 61,000 to clean and 11,000 was spent replacing missing cutlery and broken crockery.

Salami slice

The alcohol bill has been halved. This isn't because staff have taken the pledge. The same amount is being consumed. They just bought more expensive vintage the year before.

The publication of the annual Civil List spending is yet another step along the road to royal financial openness.

There is no going back. In recent years the royal family has acknowledged it has to account for the public money it spends.

Even though the overall spending is up this year, there have been savings.

As part of what one senior official described as the salami slice approach to saving money, the Queen is now sending some of her letters second class.


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27 Jun 02 | UK
27 Jun 02 | England
28 Jun 01 | UK
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