Page last updated at 15:25 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 16:25 UK

Royals 'cost the taxpayer 40m'

The Royal Family
Palace officials said the cost of royal travel would vary from year to year

The Queen and the Royal Family have cost the taxpayer 40m during the last financial year - up 2m on the previous 12 months, official accounts show.

The total is equivalent to 66p per person in the UK - an increase of 4p.

The cost of official royal travel and the Queen's Civil List - funds for her work as head of state - also increased.

Officials said the money was spent on more official overseas trips and palace maintenance. Republicans have called for royal spending to be overhauled.

Buckingham Palace accounts reveal the Treasury contributed the equivalent of 66p per person in the country to help maintain the monarchy - up by 5% on the previous year.

American visit

The amount spent on royal travel rose by 600,000 to 6.2m during the 2007-08 financial year and the Queen's Civil List increased by 500,000 to 12.7m.

Republic spokesman says the Royals are not value for money

The most expensive official overseas engagement was the Queen's state visit to America in May last year to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement.

A plane was chartered at a cost of 381,813.

Buckingham Palace officials described the cost of the Royal Family to taxpayers as less than the price of two pints of milk or an MP3 player download.

Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, pointed out that the annual cost of the monarchy was lower in real terms than in 2001 and that the royals had responded to demands from government to carry out more visits abroad.

"Expenditure on royal travel, which will vary from year to year, also increased in response to the number of overseas visits undertaken at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK Trade and Investment," he said.

He said a grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for the maintenance of palaces was to remain at 15m each year for the next three years.

ROYAL PUBLIC FINANCES

Financial summary, year to 31 March 2008

  2008 ( millions) 2007 ( millions)
The Queen's civil list 12.7 12.2
Parliamentary annuities 0.4 0.4
Grants-in-aid 22.0 20.6
Expenditure met by gov depts 4.9 4.8
Total 40.0 38.0

This meant that without an increase in funding for 12 years, "the backlog in essential maintenance projects has continued to grow", he added.

"In the absence of any increase of funding, the backlog of work is estimated at 32m in today's money."

The accounts showed areas of work needed, including the replacement of slate roofs at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, estimated at 16m, and updating heating and electrical services at the palace at a price of 2.4m.

Replacing cast iron and lead Victorian water mains at Windsor Castle was estimated to cost another 3m.

A spokesman for the DCMS said the department was working with property maintenance experts and the royal household's property services section "to ensure that the maintenance work is properly prioritised to control the backlog."

Reform 'needed'

The 40m quoted in the accounts does not include the cost of security provided by the police and Army or the ceremonial duties carried out by the armed forces.

Campaign group Republic repeated its demand for reforms to royal spending.

Spokesman Graham Smith said as Britons were being told to tighten their belts because of the credit crunch, "the Windsor family digs deeper into the taxpayers' pockets".

"Clearly there is an urgent need to reform the way the monarchy is paid for," he said.

Mr Smith called for the Queen to be paid a salary and the monarchy to be budgeted and accounted for in the same way as all other government departments or public bodies.


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