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Monday, July 19, 1999 Published at 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK


'Severe' cuts in Royal security

The Queen is said to have requested the review

Protection costing £30m per year for the Royal Family is to be cut back, it is reported.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper says Princess Margaret, the Duke of York and his daughters and the Earl and Countess of Wessex will "lose some of their round-the-clock protection". Several Royal cousins may also be affected.

"Severe restrictions" will also placed on the use of police motorcycle escorts.

The paper says Princess Margaret "seldom ventures out without a team of three motorcycle outriders", whereas the Queen and the Prince of Wales often travel without them.

Prince Philip reportedly "drives around London anonymously in a converted black cab".

[ image: Security for the Wessex's home will reportedly cost £1m a year]
Security for the Wessex's home will reportedly cost £1m a year
The review is said to be chaired by Sir John Chilcot, a former permanent secretary at the Northern Ireland Office.

The study, which was commissioned by Home Secretary Jack Straw at the Queen's request last year, will be sent to him by the end of the month, the newspaper says.

Protection of Royal residences could also be targeted.

The security cost for Bagshot Park, home to the Earl and Countess of Wessex, is reportedly expected to be around £1m a year.

'Appropriate protection'

Most Royal protection is carried out by Scotland Yard's Special Operations 14 (SO14) division.

A Scotland Yard spokesman told BBC News Online that it was not its policy to comment on Royal protection.

But he did say there had already been a review into "specialist operations" by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary on 9 June.

He said 12 recommendations had been made, and that the areas studied included SO14.

"We continually monitor the protection given to Royalty and diplomats, and it is of a consistently high quality," he said.

"We always ensure the appropriate levels of protection are given."

Royal scare

The Queen requested the review herself, after internal attempts at reforms had made little progress, the newspaper says.

It adds that some members of the Royal Family see any reduction in security as a "diminution of their position", and have taken their objections to this directly to the Queen.

Royal security was recently put to the test when an intruder was arrested after scaling 12ft railings and almost reaching the entrance to Buckingham Palace.

No action was taken against the unidentified 40-year-old man who climbed the palace gates in front of a crowd of tourists on 15 July.

Both Buckingham Palace and the Home Office would not make a statement on the reported review, and told BBC News Online they "never comment on royal security".

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