The new London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is undergoing a £1m taxpayer-funded renovation before they move in with their baby, Buckingham Palace accounts have revealed.
They show that the overall public bill for running the monarchy was up £900,000, or 2.6 per cent, at £33.3m during a “challenging period” that included major events such as the Diamond Jubilee and Olympics.
The revelation about Prince William and Kate’s accommodation provoked outrage from pressure group Republic, whose chief executive Graham Smith said: “The Queen has taken more than £1m of public money and used it to do up her grandson’s flat – if a minister did that they would quite rightly be sacked. As Britons face deep cuts to public services and struggle with rising prices, the royals continue to help themselves to our money. Their spending is out of control and it’s only going to get worse.”
But the Palace insisted that the net expenditure for 2012-13 was a small reduction in real terms after inflation and £3.2m less than the £36.5m bill in 2008-9. Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said: “The Royal Household has continued to reduce its expenditure funded by the taxpayer in successive years since 2008-9, achieving a real terms reduction of 24 per cent over the past five years.”
Much of last year’s rise in the “cost of the Queen” was accounted for by a £9.1m bill for maintaining and repairing palaces and other properties.
The 21-room Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace has been gutted under a major restoration project that is due be completed in the autumn. This will provide the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – who are expecting their first child next month – with spacious accommodation including a drawing room, staff quarters and a nursery.
The Duke and Duchess currently live in the two-bedroom Nottingham Cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace, or “KP” as William’s mother Princess Diana called it. The work on their new home, last lived in by Princess Margaret, includes £600,000 on the complete replacement of plumbing and boilers, re-wiring and asbestos removal. A further £400,000 has been spent on replacing much of the badly damaged slate, tiles and lead roof over the four-storey apartment, which was last refurbished after Princess Margaret married Lord Snowdon in 1960.
Courtiers said the £33.3m overall cost to taxpayers was equivalent of 53p a year per head and represented an 80 per cent fall in real terms since 1994. As well as the essential work on Kensington Palace, repairs have been carried out on Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Victoria and Albert Mausoleum. The details were contained in the annual report for the past financial year – the first under the new Sovereign Grant arrangements for funding the Queen’s public duties.