Letter: Royal pictures
Saturday 09 January 1999
Sir: Philip Hensher's article "Excuse me, Ma'am, they're our pictures" (8 January) describes the Royal Collection as "of incalculable interest and value, but like an iceberg, largely unseen".
Last year just under 6 million people visited the palaces and residences in which it is displayed. To suggest the whole lot should be in one of the national museums or galleries - and you would still have to pay an admission charge - would mean stripping out all the major works of art from Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Holyroodhouse, Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, Kew Palace, Osborne House and Sandringham. I do not think this would be acceptable to the millions of people from all over the United Kingdom and abroad who visit these palaces and residences to see the Royal Collection in situ.
All the collections of national significance in this country receive substantial taxpayers' money; the Royal Collection receives none and relies for its upkeep solely on the revenue generated from admission charges to the various palaces and residences. Finally, may I say that the Queen does not own the Royal Collection personally but as sovereign, and as such holds the collection in trust for her successors and the nation.
Assistant Press Secretary to The Queen
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