Taxpayer funding for the British royal family reached £35.7 million last year, as the Queen’s expenses rose by £1.9 million, or nearly 6 percent , as the so-called ‘commoners’ grapple with the hardships of recovery.
The figure works out to 56 pence per person, less than $1, which royal aides have said is a “good value for money.”
The Queen’s accounts are kept solvent by the Sovereign Grant, a fund to pay for royal expenditure such as transportation, employee salaries, and keeping palaces in good condition. Previously, the UK royal family were funded by the Civil List, and separate grants were made for travel and property maintenance to the Queen and other royals in active state roles. In real terms, Queen Elizabeth’s finances increase by even more – £2.4 million from the previous year.
One of the largest property owners in the UK the royal family increased its budget to look after its palaces by £4.2 million to £13.3 million, or a 45 percent increase to cover what they consider a ‘backlog’ of restoration projects.
Included in the backlog is refurbishing crumbling and leaky royal residences, including Buckingham Palace, which has an outdated and expensive heating system that runs a near £800,000 heating bill per year.
Kensington Palace had to be “completely re-serviced” last April to rid it of old building materials that cause lung cancer. Over the last two years, £4.5 million has been spent on refurbishing the 20 bedroom apartment, which also houses Prince Charles and his family. The royal family footed the bill for interior design themselves.
Last December, Prince Charles, the eldest son of the Queen, spent £255,000 to attend Nelson Mandela’s memorial in South Africa.
Last year, the public funds allotted to the Queen’s pocketbook reached £32 million, a figure that includes the extra £1 million to put on the Diamond Jubilee celebration.
Although the family is historically one of the country’s wealthiest, they claim that the reserve fund has been emptied, and that they only have £1 million left, compared to the £35 million in 2001. The family blames poor financial management on the Treasury.
The estimated total annual cost of the monarchy is £299.4 million, around nine times the official figure published by the royal household as reported by anti-monarchy campaigners.
Britain’s economy re-entered recession in 2012, the first double-dip recession since 1975. The economy is showing signs of healthy growth including unemployment at 6.6 percent, passing the governments’ goal of 7 percent. But darker days may lay ahead with a housing bubble on the brink of bursting and a massive trade deficit.