Taxpayers left with £40m bill to fund royals last year

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The Independent Online

The public cost of the monarchy rose by an inflation-busting 5 per cent last year, largely because of an increase in the upkeep of Buckingham Palace and expensive trips abroad.

This year's royal accounts show the bill for the taxpayer was £40m, up £2m on last year. Royal spending over the past 12 months included the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall taking a £275,000 cruise around the Caribbean and the Queen paying £300,000 for double-glazing and new sash windows at Windsor Castle. The bill for hosting Buckingham Palace garden parties alone was £700,000.

But the Queen says she must have more money to help repair her crumbling palaces. Yesterday her advisers made clear that unless the Government provides further funds, the monarch faces the embarrassment of hosting functions in state rooms with leaky roofs and peeling wallpaper.

Palace insiders said the Queen had already expressed concern about whether she could afford to make the vital repairs needed to her properties. Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said it was a cause of "major disappointment" that ministers had refused to increase public expenditure on the palaces which he estimated now required £32m of work in the next 10 years. He said most of the state rooms had not been redecorated or "re-presented" in the entire 55-year reign of the Queen.

But a spokesman for the Department for Culture Media and Sport said the Royal Household was just one of 70 public bodies, including the Arts Council and English Heritage, for which the Government provided state grants.

The spokesman added: "DCMS has not seen the information on which the Royal Household's estimate of £32m is based on, and so cannot comment on its accuracy. Through DCMS's property maintenance experts, Watts Plc, we are working with the Royal Household's Property Services Section to ensure the maintenance work is prioritised to control the backlog."

The Queen's case for increased funding was partly undermined by some of the eye-catching travel expenses racked up by Prince Charles. Accounts show that the Caribbean cruise last year enjoyed by the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall cost the taxpayer £275,000, of which £210,000 went on chartering a yacht. It cost taxpayers a further £18,916 for Prince Charles to visit the Black Swan Pub, in Cumbria, on a trip intended to highlight the importance of rural communities.

The total spent on royal travel rose to £6.2m up by £600,000 from last year. On the Queen's state visit to America last year to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement a plane was chartered at a cost of £381,813.

And it cost nearly £800,000 to send the Duke of York to several foreign destinations, including Rio de Janeiro, Miami, Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur, as the UK's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment.

But Sir Alan insisted that the cost of the monarchy was just 66p per person which he said was still less than the price of two pints of milk or a download for an MP3 player.

The anti-monarchy campaign group Republic said the true bill to the taxpayer would be nearer £150m a year if the costs of police and army security were included. The group's spokes-man, Graham Smith, said the Queen should have a fixed salary managed by the Government and that parliament should set an annual budget for the monarchy.

The Windsors' expenses

£187,000

Salary of Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of Privy Purse.

£410,000

Cost of charter and scheduled flights during royal tour of United States, May 2007.

£40,513

Cost of Prince Charles' use of the Royal Train, left, on visit to Liverpool and Aberdeen on official engagements, April 22- 24 2007

£700,000

Garden parties

£33,309

Cost of flights for the reconnaissance by the Queen's staff in advance of state visit to Uganda last year.

£900,000

Cost of royal gardens.

£300,000

Cost of energyconservation.

£200,000

Legal advice, including advice regarding the Diana inquiry.

£300,000

Double glazing and new sash windows at Windsor Castle.

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