Palace work dents Royal accounts

The Queen and the Duchess of Sussex at the opening of the new Mersey Gateway Bridge
The Queen and the Duchess of Sussex at the opening of the new Mersey Gateway Bridge
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It has happened to us all – a dent in the annual accounts wrought by a few visits from the builders.

But when the fixer-upper is Buckingham Palace, the costs can be counted in the millions.

The Queen’s annual accounts, published today, reveal that the decade-long programme of improvements at the Palace, which will cost £369m, have pushed up the Queen’s expenditure by around 13 per cent.

The figure represents an “operational cost” of 69p per man, woman and child in the UK – up from 65p last year.

It does not include the £30.4m additionally siphoned off from the Crown Estate profits to help towards the building work.

More modest parts of the Royal estate were also pricey – a new conservation workshop on the site of a disused mushroom shed in the grounds of Windsor Castle, cost the Royal Collection Trust £2.2m.

Aside from the dedicated fund for the Buckingham Palace renovation, which involves overhauling its decades-old wiring systems, a total of 188 projects, each costing at least £6,000, were carried out across the estate. Nine were valued at more than £250,000.

The Sovereign Grant for the current year – the taxpayer funds received by the monarchy to pay for official duties – will be £82.2m, a figure that includes £32.9m for resurfacing the Palace.

A spokesman said it was unlikely, however, that any change to the its exterior would be noticeable.

The accounts reveal that travel rose from £4.5m to £4.7m last year. The most expensive trip, for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to visit India, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, cost £362,149.

The figure included travel on the prestigious RAF Voyager, the aircraft available for use by the Queen, Charles and the sitting Prime Minister – as well as associated staff costs.

Charles also made use of the Royal Train, at a cost of around £20,000 per trip, twice as often as the Queen.

In the year the Duchess of Sussex joined the family, funding for the younger Royals increased by more than 40 per cent. Clarence House, whose accounts also include those of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, said the total rose from £3.5m to £5m.

Funding for what the accounts term as William, Kate and Harry’s “activities”, are listed under “other costs”, but there is no further breakdown or detail.

Sir Michael Stevens, the new keeper of the Privy Purse, who oversees the monarch’s finances, said: “There are three generations of the royal family at work together in support of the Queen.

“Each generation brings its own style and personality. What everyone shares is a desire for the monarchy to reflect and serve all parts of our country and the wider Commonwealth.”

Charles’s principal private secretary, Clive Alderton, said the year had been one of “celebration, commemoration and change” and had included “moments of great joy” for the Royal Family.

The Queen undertook 154 official engagements during the year, down slightly from 162 the previous year, including visits to scenes of the Grenfell Tower disaster and the Manchester Arena terror attack.

She also marked the commissioning ceremony of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, and visited London Fashion Week.