Regarding the financial disclosures from the Windsors, I’ll admit that I’m finding some of the numbers confusing. It’s not that I have any desire to cape for the Windsor clan at all, but I do think that it’s worth pointing out that the biggest reason why the accounting looks “off” is because of the renovation of Buckingham Palace. BP is now several years into a complete renovation, most of it necessary work to keep the palace from falling down and/or making people sick. The cost of the reno was always going to be crazy and exorbitant, and the whole thing is projected to cost £369 million over 10 years. The cost seems to be broken down year by year in the Sovereign Grant rather than a bulk figure at the start or end of the reno. That being said, the royals are still spending way too much money.
Spending by the Royal Family exceeded its income from public funds last year and topped £100 million as the programme of repair works on Buckingham Palace was stepped up. The Royal Household spent £16.1 million more than it earned from the Sovereign Grant – the publicly funded part of the Royal Family’s income.
The annual report of palace finances shows it received £51.8 million for the day-to-day running of the monarchy and an extra £34.5 million for the Buckingham Palace redevelopment – referred to by the household as “Reservicing”. But total spending last year was £102.4 million as the building work on the palace reached an intensive phase.
The 40% increase on the repair bills for Buckingham Palace – which is mid-way through a 10 year refit – was needed to get the building ready to host the Platinum Jubilee celebrations at the beginning of June.
The Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Michael Stevens, who controls royal finances said: “There was a significant increase in work against a hard deadline to enable Buckingham Palace to be at the centre of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.”
The total repair bill for the palace re-building works remains the same at £369 million. It means that palace accountants had to take some extra money from the reserve it has built up in previous years when they underspent on the repair works.
So, let me get this straight – the Sovereign Grant financed the Windsors at a cost of £86.3 million, with £51.8 million towards “core funding” of royals, meaning their travel, their household staff, their office operations, general upkeep of the public residences. Then £34.5 million of the SG was earmarked specifically for the ongoing Buckingham Palace reno. And the royals overspent the £86.3 million by £16.1 million, so they pulled money from… somewhere.
Anyway, this is all kind of insane to me. While I believe that sh-t like publicly owned castles and palaces should be maintained as historical sites, what I can’t get over is how much it costs to just *have* a monarchy. All of those staff salaries and for what? For Bill and Cathy to wander around, being keen at three events a month? For the Queen’s senior aides to bully a 96-year-old woman into making public appearances? What is the benefit to the British taxpayer, what is the return on this extraordinary investment?
Photos courtesy of Instar.