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Sunday, 14 May, 2000, 00:53 GMT 01:53 UK
Army charges for Royal pageant
Queen Mother
Queen Mother: 7,000 people taking part
Guests at the Queen Mother's 100th birthday celebration will have to pay 500 for a prime corporate seat.

The Army is organising the pageant on 19 July, at a cost of 400,000.

It has decided to hire out 30 corporate boxes, which seat 20 people at a price of 10,000 each.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said that charging for corporate seats was an "appropriate" way for the Army to recoup the cost of the event.

This is seen as an appropriate way of reducing the burden on the taxpayer

MoD spokesman
The government is not putting any money towards the cost of staging the event, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

It says the sale of tickets will anger the Queen Mother, who wanted guests to attend the function free of charge.

It is believed to be the first time corporate boxes have been available for hire at a major royal event.

'Cool Britannia'

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon confirmed that a "substantial" fee would be charged for boxes.

He told GMTV's Sunday Programme With Alistair Stewart: "I don't know about logos but a number of individuals and a number of companies expressed the desire to be part of this marvellous celebration.

"And of course by doing so they will be reducing the cost to the public purse and I am sure everyone would welcome that."

Conservatives said the government would have misread public feeling if it failed to foot the bill.

Shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe said: "I think they would probably be taking a very different attitude if it were a piece of Cool Britannia.

"Because it's a piece of tradition and we are honouring a very long-established institution and an extremely well-loved figure, they are taking a rather cruder line."

BBC's defence

More than 12,000 guests will attend the pageant which is being held two weeks before the Queen Mother's actual birthday on 4 August.

7,000 people will be taking part in the parade which will feature the dropping of one million rose petals and a 25ft-high birthday cake.

Earlier, BBC1 controller Peter Salmon has defended the Corporation's decision not to televise the pageant live.

"No-one should doubt the BBC's abiding respect and affection for the Royal Family and the Queen Mother in particular," he told the Sunday Mirror.

He said the BBC was devoting more than six hours of television to celebrating the Queen Mother's birthday including coverage of the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral on 11 July and a special Songs of Praise from Glamis on 19 July.

"The Pageant will not be left out," Mr Salmon said.

"Our cameras will be there supplying news bulletins and live reports to BBC News 24.

"Highlights will be included in an hour-long round-up on the evening of 4 August itself."

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