First it was Charles, now it’s the entire clan. The annual Civil List report has been published with the usual arguments surfacing about the role of the monarchy as an accompaniment. But let’s look at the facts first.
The Royal Family cost the UK taxpayer 69p each in the 2008/9 financial year, a 3p rise on the 2007/8 financial year with the total cost rising by £1.5m to £41.5m. The accounts show that the Queen used £6m from a reserve fund to supplement the Civil List due to rising costs in the running of the Royal Household and indeed, there’s been increases in almost every department. Staff salaries, catering and hospitality, Royal travel and ceremonial functions all saw a rise in their bill but the Palace have pointed out that there are legitimate reasons for the increases.
They say that as for Royal travel, the rise in cost is explained by the overseas tours conducted by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall on the request of the Government and by the unusual visit to Tonga by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester for the coronation of King George Tupou V. They also say that RAF aircraft are now limited in their avaliability which means that the Palace have to use alternative services to transport the Royals to their official engagements. The Queen has recieved £7.9m each year which was secured in 1990 by former Prime Minister Sir John Major, but this was frozen and banned from any increase by the Tony Blair administration in 1990 to compensate for what they claim was 10 years of over-payment. The current financial deal will come up for negotiation in 2010, but financial experts have noted that if these rises continue, the Royals could see themselves in the red even before that date.
As usual, there’s a nasty helicopter bill run up by the Duke of York which in recession-hit Britain won’t go down well but the Queen has escaped the usual swipes at her own spending, maybe due to a story yesterday in which the Queen has apparantly declined a costly Jubilee in 2012. She has also told the Government that she doesn’t want her Jubilee tied to the 2012 Olympic Games due to be held in London, a severe blow for both the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Mayor of London. Boris Johnson had hoped for a ‘party of the decade’ to celebrate the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee jointly but the Palace are keen to stress that the anniversary of the Queen’s reign is separate from any sporting event the capital may be hosting. The Daily Mail claims that plans are being drawn up along the lines of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of 2002, but in January of this year the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said that they hadn’t developed any plans to mark the occassion. Similarly, the Palace has stressed that no budget had been set and that it’s far too early for such discussions.
The Queen is apparently anxious that the effects of the recession won’t have passed by 2012 and that excessive displays of wealth would taint the Jubilee. Similarly, she is said to be aware that the Olympic budget keeps rising (it’s now way past it’s official original estimate and is said to be costing almost £9.3 million) and doesn’t want additional public money lumped together with the Olympics bill, a move that could make the expenditure of the monarchy the issue of the day rather than a celebration of 60 years on the throne. However, Her Majesty certainly isn’t boycotting the Games and will be present at the official opening ceremony. It was hoped by London Mayor Boris Johnson that the Diamond Jubilee celebrations would begin in May 2012 when the Olympic torch arrives in London but this idea has been rejected.
The cynics amongst you (not to mention the Londoners) could well believe this to be a clever ploy by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to detract from the rising Olympic Games costs or that it would make Londoners feel that they paid for only one part of the party in 2012 whilst the rest of the nation chipped in for the Jubilee. I couldn’t possibly say whether I’d agree with that or not, but what I can say is that once again Queen Elizabeth II shows that she’s absolutely in tune with her people and what they feel. Well done Ma’am.
The row over Royal expenditure is due to rage for a few days but the current view seems to be that the Windsors are good value for money and at least they’re cheaper than MPs.Filed under The United Kingdom
Tagged Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, Finances, London 2012, Olympic Games.