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Sunday, 30 June, 2002, 03:49 GMT 04:49 UK
Royals 'offer to pay more rent'
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent
The Kents currently pay about 69 a week
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have offered to pay more for their Kensington Palace apartments, it has been reported.

The prince has told friends he will pay 50,000 a year for the plush central London quarters, rather than the reported 69 a week he currently pays, the Sunday Times said.

The move follows criticism of the amount paid by minor royals for their homes - subsidised by the taxpayer - in a city where key workers such as nurses and teachers often cannot afford accommodation.

"Prince Michael of Kent is to bow to political pressure to pay a much higher rent," the newspaper said.

"A commercial rate for the flat could run to 200,000 a year, but the prince is expected to offer about 50,000."

Kensington Palace
The palace may eventually open to the public
The paper added that the prince expects to pay the market rate by the end of the year.

The public criticism followed scrutiny by the House of Commons Public Accounts committee of whether taxpayers get value for money from the royal palaces.

After a tour of the palace, it called on the Queen to evict its residents and put the apartments on a more commercial footing.

The cost of the apartment is subsidised from the 15m-a-year "grant in aid" that the government spends on royal palaces.

Deal with Queen

The prince has previously defended the less-than-4,000 rent for the five-bedroom, four reception room home.

He said the couple performed "a lot" of public duties - though not royal ones - and "pull our weight for the family and the country".

Buckingham Palace has said the arrangement with the Kents was made soon after their wedding in 1979 and the Queen did not want to go back on that commitment.

Other minor royals - including the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the 100-year-old Princess Alice - also live at the palace for low rents.

It is thought that the long-term plan for the palace is to remove all residents and open it to the public.

See also:

16 Jun 02 | UK Politics
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