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Tuesday, 4 July, 2000, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
The minted Royals
Debate over the civil list is often anything but civil. Already wealthy by anyone's standards, the Royals still controversially receive a sizeable chunk of public money. By BBC News Online's Ryan Dilley.
Whether the Queen actually ever touches the banknotes and coins which bear her profile, the Royal Household doesn't go short of the folding stuff.
A new deal brokered between the Palace and the Treasury sees more than £8.9m of taxpayers' money annually awarded to those on the civil list until 2011.
Students of the Royal finances will note this figure, shared between the Queen, Prince Philip and the Queen Mother, remains unchanged on the 10-year arrangement agreed in 1990.
A bargain for the public purse? Perhaps. The civil list recipients actually amassed a £30m surplus since 1990, thanks to a lower than expected inflation rate over the decade.
The civil list is intended to "meet the official expenses of The Queen's Household so that Her Majesty can fulfil her role as Head of State and Head of the Commonwealth".
Much of this money apparently goes towards paying the more than 600 royal staff and buying canapés for garden parties and state banquets.
The Palace is at pains to point out that civil list money is not "pay" for the Queen. It is also often mentioned that she bankrolls those lower down the royal ladder dropped from the actual list in 1993.
What is less often discussed are the other wedges of public money which are directed into the royal coffers.
The civil list is dwarfed by the grants-in-aid given by various government departments to meet the Royal Household's transport costs and pay the bills at the Royal Palaces.
Recent calls for the modernisation of the monarchy have seen many of the royal ledgers thrown open for public scrutiny.
These are testament to the economy drive reputedly undertaken by the Queen since she took responsibility for household finances in 1991.
The tab for royal travel, picked up by the MoD, the Department of Transport and the Foreign Office, has been squeezed from £12.8m in 1998/99 to £8.6m in the last financial year.
The Queen has forsaken the fuel-thirsty Wessex helicopters of the RAF's 32 Squadron and leased some, comparatively, efficient Sikorskys.
The royal train has also been cut down from 14 coaches to a mere nine, delivering a £55,000 saving on 1998's operating costs of £811,000.
Used barely 14 times a year, the train and its 11 crew sit in the sidings most of the time. At an estimated £81 per mile, few commoners have taken advantage of a scheme offering the train for hire.
The cost of maintaining the six "occupied" Royal Palaces is met by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace, Clarence House, Marlborough House Mews, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Mews cost taxpayers £15m this year.
However, this figure was down an impressive £800,000 on the 1998/9 total, thanks to some regal belt tightening.
The Duchess of York once told viewers of the Opray Winfrey TV show that Buckingham Palace was devoid of any light bulbs above 30 watts.
Such frugality doesn't cut much ice with Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who says our royal family is still one of the most expensive in Europe.
"There are serious questions to be asked about the value we are getting for the monarchy in the 21st Century," he has said.
Lean or mean
Mr Baker says becoming leaner, if not meaner, will strengthen the Monarchy.
Cutting public spending on the Royal Family has long been considered.
During the "civil list crisis" of the 1960s, Harold Wilson's government discussed revamping the Monarchy along "Scandinavian" lines.
The plan would have seen Buckingham Palace opened as a national monument and its residents moved to a residence funded from their own pockets.
The 1960s "crisis", whereby the Royals were surviving on an allowance fixed at 1952 prices, was satisfactorily solved without such radical moves.
The idea of a self-funding monarchy has always bubbled beneath the surface of the civil list.
The system was first truly applied to William III and Mary II in the 17th Century. The joint rulers were given a fixed sum by Parliament in return for relinquishing their hereditary and tax revenues.
Elizabeth II has likewise given up her rights to an income from these sources. She does, however, continue to harvest money from the Duchy of Lancaster.
The 50,000-acre estate, ranging from Yorkshire to South Wales nets the Queen £5.9m per year.
The Queen's private wealth is much argued over, like every facet of the royal finances. Some put her worth as high as £5bn, others scoff at any figure above £100m.
There is also much debate as to whether the royal paintings, jewels and palaces actually belong to the Queen, as assets, or are merely held by her in trust.
Whatever the case, the freeze in her civil list income won't send her bank manager into a flap.
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