Last year Buckingham Palace published figures costing the monarch at £38.3M per annum, which they claimed represented excellent value for money.
But figures released by the campaign group Republic show that the Palace hasn’t calculated the true cost of maintaining the royal family and that the actual cost is £202.4M – five times the official figure.
That makes Britain’s royal family the most expensive monarchy in Europe at more than double the price of the Dutch, which comes second in the cost table.
Leaving aside for the moment arguments about whether the monarch should exist, and I count myself as an abolitionist, there is a clear and undeniable case for the public to know the true cost of the monarchy. Taxpayers pick up the bill and have a right to know.
The Civil List, which pays for the staff of the royal household, is granted by Parliament. The payment was set at £7.9M per annum back in 2000, based on an absurdly high estimate of inflation, meaning that spending was well below the level of grant for 10 years and a surplus created.
This surplus is now being added to the annual grant, meaning actual spending is currently £14.2M per annum. This represents a 94% rise in real terms since 1991. So much for value for money.
In addition, the royal family receives further grants totalling £24.5 M from various government departments for the costs associated with various family members, as well as for property costs, press and PR and travel.
Not included in the official Palace figures are the incomes received from the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall, portfolios of land, property and assets whose surplus is paid to the Queen and Prince Charles each year. If there was no monarchy the sums of £13.2M and £24.5M confirmed tin the Duchies’ annual reports would be paid to the state.
And the Palace figures do not include the annual costs for security associated with the royal family. From figures reported in various newspapers this is estimated at £100M per annum.
So getting rid of the Royal Family would mean a net gain to the country of over £200M each and every year.
At a time of massive public sector spending cuts, that sum could be used to employ an additional 9,560 nurses or 8,200 police officers. It could be used to double the support that the government gives to medical research charities. Or it could be added to many other deserving budgets.
All of which would be far better uses of public money than maintaining a royal family.