Prince Charles gets 23% more from taxpayer

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The Prince of Wales's funding from the taxpayer rose by almost a quarter last year, Clarence House accounts showed today.

The money from grants-in-aid and Government departments jumped 23.5 per cent from £2,454,000 to £3,033,000.

The main cost was a 48 per cent rise in official travel by air and rail which increased from £1,157,000 to £1,710,000.

Charles's private income increased by just 1 per cent to £16.4 million during the last financial year.

The money which comes from the surplus generated by the Duchy of Cornwall - the landed estate given to the heir to the throne - increased by £185,000 to £16,458,000.

His official expenditure rose by nearly 20 per cent from £10,451,000 to £12,513,000.

The heir to the throne paid less tax, with his bill falling from £3,429,000 to £3,093,000 - a drop of almost 10 per cent.

The Prince's non-official expenditure fell by 23 per cent, with the drop being attributed in part to the heir to the throne's decision to holiday in the UK last year.

His senior aide, Sir Michael Peat, said Charles had been mindful of the recession.

"It's a recession and we have to say that we've looked at all costs very carefully," he said.

The non-official expenditure fell from £2,217,000 to £1,710,000.

Sir Michael added: "We are by no means immune to it. The Duchy of Cornwall is a ship designed to sail in most weather conditions but we have to look at areas and be careful. We are always reviewing all costs the whole time.

"I hope that we're going to be OK."

Sir Michael said the value of the Duchy of Cornwall assets was just under £600 million.

Sir Michael said the Prince took a long-term approach to his finances.

The aide added: "He didn't borrow money. We've planned for the long term. We've entered the recession without having a great boom before we got into the recession, which means of course we're not particularly suffering any bust at the moment, touch wood."

He said the rise in costs for official travel was due to the two long-haul trips to the Far East and South America.

"It's easy to underestimate the importance and success of these tours," Sir Michael said.

"They're all requested and paid for by the Government for good reasons."

The two foreign trips cost just over £2 million and focused on the Prince's passion for fighting climate change and protecting the environment.

Other figures in the annual accounts showed that the Prince spent £6.2 million on staff salaries, £65,000 on his gardens and more than £500,000 on official entertaining and receptions.

The number of staff he employs rose by six to 125 full-time equivalent employees - his highest yet.

Sir Michael stressed that the increase was because the Prince was busier than ever.

"The Prince is entering his seventh decade. Many people would be slowing down but he seems to be going faster and faster."

The Duchy of Cornwall's capital account fell in value from £647 million to £599 million in the 12 months to March 31, a drop of 7 per cent, according to Duchy accounts published today.

The value of freehold property owned by the Duchy estate fell £23 million to £560 million, while investments, including cash, also dropped £23 million to £55 million.

The Duchy is the private estate which funds the public, charitable and private activities of Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, and a proportion of the costs of Princes William and Harry.

Edward III created the Duchy estate for his son and heir, Prince Edward, in 1337 to provide him and future Princes of Wales with an income from the assets.

Any profits from the sale of the Duchy's capital assets are kept by the estate.

The estate consists of 54,424 hectares of land in 23 counties, mostly in the south west of England, and includes agricultural, residential and commercial property holdings. It also has an investment portfolio.

The Prince's income from the Duchy has remained relatively unchanged despite the recession because the estate has spread its risk across a wide area of investments.

In 2002 the Prince sold his equity holdings and bought farm land which has performed well in recent years with the accounts showing that last year the agriculture portfolio increased in value by 4.5 per cent.

Another shrewd move by the heir to the throne saw around £30 million to £40 million of the Duchy's commercial property sold last year.