British monarchy costs taxpayer £1 million more

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LONDON: The public cost of the British monarchy rose by just under £1 million last year to £33.3 million ($51 million, 39 million euros) but fell in real terms, palace accounts revealed on Thursday.

Diamond jubilee celebrations marking Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th year on the  throne made the 2012/13 financial year “challenging”, Buckingham Palace said.
 
But it added that the British taxpayer was paying £3 million less for the  monarchy than five years ago once the figures were adjusted for inflation, due  to falling travel costs and a rise in royal incomes.
 
The 87-year-old monarch has been scaling back the gruelling travel schedule  that has kept her jet-setting for six decades, and is increasingly handing over  duties to younger royals.
 
The queen’s official expenditure rose by £900,000 in 2012/13, when the  grant was set at £31 million including an extra million pounds to pay for the  diamond jubilee. An additional £2.3 million was drawn from reserves.
 
“In the year of the queen’s diamond jubilee and the London Olympics the  royal household has achieved a real terms reduction in expenditure on  supporting the queen’s official duties,” said Sir Alan Reid, who as Keeper of  the Privy Purse is head of palace financial management.
 
“The royal household has continued to reduce its expenditure funded by the  taxpayer in successive years since 2008-9 achieving a real terms reduction of  24 percent over the last five years.”  
 
The accounts revealed that £1 million has been spent renovating the  Kensington Palace apartment which will be the London home of Prince William and  his wife Catherine once their baby is born.
 
The baby, who will be third in line to the throne, is expected in mid-July  and the new parents are expected to move in a few months later.
 
The £1 million has been used to remove asbestos and repair the roof of the  apartment, while the cost of decorating the rooms will be met privately. 
 
Meanwhile royal travel cost the British public £4.5 million in 2012/13,  down from £5 million a year earlier.
 
The queen and her husband, 92-year-old Prince Philip, toured Britain to  mark the jubilee while other royals travelled the globe.
 
The accounts were published as royal officials announced that the queen’s  income will rise by five percent next year after the Crown Estate, a vast  property empire from which she draws her funds, reported record profits.
 
The Sovereign Grant, which pays for the queen’s official duties and upkeep  of royal properties, will rise from £36.1 million (42.5 million euros, $55  million) this year to £37.9 million in 2014.
 
Under a new funding arrangement agreed in 2011, the grant is set at 15  percent of the profits of the estate from two years previously. The rest of the  profits go into the public coffers.
 
Counting London’s famous Regent Street and Windsor Park among its  properties, as well as almost the entire seabed around Britain, the estate is  now worth more than £8 billion.
 
It announced record profits of £252.6 million in the financial year to  March 2013, up from £240.2 million the previous year.  - AFP

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