While the rest of austerity Britain may be learning to live with swingeing spending cuts, it emerged yesterday that one national institution enjoyed an impressive 18 per cent boost in the support it received from the public coffers last year.
The amount of taxpayers' money used to subsidise the activities of the Prince of Wales and his household rose to £1.96m from £1.66m over the previous 12 months. This included a 40 per cent rise in Government grants to run Charles and Camilla's London residence and to fund the couple's overseas travels.
As well as receiving increased state support, Charles also saw his private income from the 133,700-acre Duchy of Cornwall – given to him as heir to the throne and which also includes a lucrative investment portfolio – rise by 4 per cent to nearly £17.8m.
In a year which has seen the royal family ride a wave of popular approval after the widely celebrated nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton, anti-monarchy groups severely criticised the level of spending revealed in the annual financial review.
The Aston Martin-driving Prince of Wales has long sought to battle complaints over his allegedly lavish lifestyle and the report again sought to emphasise his philanthropic work and green credentials. As well as voluntarily paying nearly £5m in tax, it revealed his 20 core charities had raised £123m.
But the accounts, which cover running costs incurred by the royal newlyweds and Prince Harry, revealed signs of a slackening in fiscal discipline. The Prince's non-official expenditure rose 50 per cent, to £2.5m, partly to cover the royal wedding, although the bulk of that outlay is not included in this year's figures. Meanwhile, the total staff under combined household command grew to reach an equivalent full-time workforce of 158.9. Between them the Prince, Camilla, William, Kate and Harry now employ 33.5 private secretaries and assistants, at a cost of £2.8m, responsible for answering the 36,000 letters received last year by the family.
Charles employs one butler on duty at all times, as well as teams of valets and orderlies assisting in travel and clothing arrangements. The Duchess of Cornwall has two staff performing similar roles.
And although the royal couple clocked up 8,600 fewer miles than they did in 2009-10 travelling to Portugal, Spain, and Morocco, as well as India for the Commonwealth Games, the cost to the taxpayer was £388,000 more than the previous year.
Sir Michael Peat, the Prince's Private Secretary said it had been "difficult times for all of us financially". He said the 56 per cent rise in travel expenditure was "skewed" because the Canadian government had footed the bill for a royal visit there in 2009. "Of course, that increase has nothing to do with us in that the Prince and the Duchess don't decide what overseas travel they do on behalf of the Foreign Office and the Government," he added.
The cost of running Clarence House also grew by £90,000 to £450,000. It is used to host official dinners, receptions and meetings as well as providing accommodation to royals.