Crunch has queen's reserve too running out fast

Royal deficit

Crunch has queen's reserve too running out fast

Queen Elizabeth II. AFP

Accounts published on Monday by Buckingham Palace reveal the total public cost of supporting the monarchy was £38.2 million ($57.8 million) in the year to March 31, the equivalent of 62 pence (94 cents) per person. The total is more than 3 million pounds less than in 2008-2009. Britain’s public sector is facing cuts as the government tries to eliminate a record deficit, and Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said the royal household “is acutely aware of the difficult economic climate” and will be cutting costs and putting off essential maintenance.

The queen receives £7.9 million of public money each year to pay for staff and other costs, an amount that has not risen in 20 years. The accounts show she topped that up by drawing an extra £6.5 million from a reserve fund built up over the years by saving portions of her allocated budget.

If the queen continues to use money from her reserve at the current rate, the fund will run out by 2012 — the year she celebrates her 60th year on the throne.

She had been expected to ask for an increase in basic funding this year, but the government — which is bringing in deep cuts to welfare payments and spending programmes — imposed a freeze until at least next year.

The accounts show the government spent more than £15 million on the upkeep of royal residences including Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, and almost £4 million on royal travel. Both amounts were down from the previous year. Reid said the royal household would be cutting its property services budget by half a million pounds.

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