Navy 'using Queen to sell tickets for Trafalgar events'

Royal Family touted as defence chiefs cash in on anniversary of battle with a series of high-rolling occasions to raise funds

The Royal Navy was accused of cheapening the monarchy by offering invitations to a reception with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The event, at the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth, is part of celebrations to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Defence chiefs are accused of cashing in on the anniversary with a series of high-rolling events. Corporate sponsors and wealthy individuals are being charged up to £25,000 to have dinner on HMS Victory with senior Naval officers.

However, the official price-tag hanging on a dinner with the Queen on Trafalgar Day itself is relatively cheap. The Royal Navy is asking just £500 for the privilege of enjoying what it promises will be "a truly atmospheric, historic atmosphere and once in a lifetime opportunity".

But it was reported that a marketing firm, The Staging House, is asking for up to £1,750 for tickets to a 45-minute champagne reception attended by Britain's head of state and her consort.

Christina Paskell, an employee, is reported to have strongly hinted that the tickets would guarantee a meeting with the Queen. She said: "I do believe that where there is a reception with Her Majesty that people who are at that reception get to meet her - it's very unusual that you don't."

The Ministry of Defence has been forced to raise funds to help cover the costs of a lavish series of public celebrations to honour Lord Nelson, Britain's greatest naval hero.

But it was accused of an "appalling" abuse of the Royal Family. The Tory defence spokesman, Andrew Robathan, said: "It is totally inappropriate and disgusting that the Queen should be hired in this way."

Pam Healy, chief spokeswoman for Trafalgar 200, the body organising events on behalf of the Royal Navy, promised a review of how the tickets were being marketed.

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