Royal spending falls to £36.7m
Wednesday June 22, 2005
Details of the Buckingham Palace finances were released today, showing a £100,000 decrease in overall spending but a rise three times that amount in the cost of royal travel.
The Queen's expenditure as head of state, which relates to her official duties, fell from £36.8m in 2003-04 to £36.7m in 2004-05 - a drop of 0.3%, or 2.3% in real terms.
Civil list funding for the Queen's staff and her household running costs accounted for £10.6m of the total expenditure but the bulk of the spending came as grants-in-aid - £14.7m for the maintenance of occupied palaces, and £5m on royal travel.
The travel spending - up from £4.7m in 2003-04 - included an official trip by the Prince of Wales to Sri Lanka, Australia and back from Fiji on a chartered plane that cost nearly £300,000.
The Queen's aides insisted the report showed the monarchy was value for money. Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said the royal family cost each person in the country 61p a year.
"We believe this represents a value for money monarchy. We're not looking to provide the cheapest monarchy. We're looking at one of good value and good quality," he said.
Mr Reid, the accounts reveal, is the Queen's highest paid executive out of the civil list, and a £7,000 pay rise in 2004 took his salary to £172,298 a year.
Savings in overall expenditure came from a £1.8m reduction in property spending, arising largely from a business rate rebate on Buckingham Palace of more than £1m after officials fought off a 100% increase in the building's rateable value from Westminster council.
Accountants at Buckingham Palace also managed to reduce the royal insurance bill by 50%.
But the financial report said these savings, and others relating to the completion of large maintenance projects, were offset by increases in employment costs, visits from heads of state and major overseas tours.
Differences in travel costs between members of the royal family were also apparent.
A scheduled flight by the Duke of Edinburgh to Toronto to attend a gala celebrating his International Award Association came to around £12,800.
But when Charles flew to Washington for former US president Ronald Reagan's funeral, the chartered plane was priced at £85,000. Aides said it was hard to keep costs down when royals attended funerals because of the short notice.
A £400,000 increase in the amount spent on aeroplanes from 2003-04 to 2004-05 was put down to transferring the cost of the Duke of York's travels to promote British industry from the Department for Transport to the royal travel grant. In the year to March 2005, £1.2m was spent on aeroplanes, £2.1m on helicopters and £700,000 on trains from the fund.
Catering and garden parties were priced at £900,000, with the Queen's assets including £400,000 of wine held in stock to age.
The Queen also has assets of £200,000 in books on the balance sheet and £300,000 in "horses and liveries". Animal lovers will be pleased to note the accounts show no "disposals" in this column for the 2004-05 financial year.
Eek. IMO, they equal waste of space. Except William