The world's richest woman will have to manage on £22,000 a day

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The Independent Online

Pay of £21,643 per day, every day, might seem a fantasy lottery win to most but that is what the Queen is paid by loyal taxpaying subjects.

Pay of £21,643 per day, every day, might seem a fantasy lottery win to most but that is what the Queen is paid by loyal taxpaying subjects.

The British Royal Family are the most expensive Royalty in Europe with a Civil List costing nearly £10m a year over the past decade. The Queen gets £7.9m for running her household and has paid tax since 1993.

She attends 500 official engagements a year including the opening of Parliament and the Christmas speech. Prince Philip, who covers a similar number and supports 78 charities, gets £360,000 from the List.

Under the 1990 List review the Princess Royal was to receive £228,000 - £328,000 at today's prices. The other Royals were paid on a sliding scale. But the Queen's cost-cutting has removed much of her family from the List. (The income of the Prince of Wales comes from his Duchy of Cornwall .)

To their credit, the Royal Family do work after retirement. The Queen Mother, who draws £600,000, has scaled down her official appointments as she approaches her century. But she still had 55 engagements in 1998 and continues to support around 124 charities.

Supporters of the Monarchy say the family are entitled to the money because it was part of a settlement with George III where he handed over the Crown Estates in 1760. Another classic defence is to cite vast amounts of revenue they bring from foreign tourists.

The British Tourist Authority says: "Royal castles and palaces are among the most popular historic sites and ... attract thousands of overseas visitors. Regular royal ceremonies, like weddings, the Trooping the Colour and the Queen's birthday parade, are also popular."

But many critics regard the Monarchy as outdated and poor value for money. Phillip Hall, author and expert on the Royal finances, dismissed the tourism argument. "If we did not have a Royal Family, tourists could wander around Buckingham Palace at their ease," he said. "Instead they are compressed into part of the Palace - which is open for only part of the year."

Mr Hall says the demise of the French Royal Family has not meant any loss in tourism revenue to France. "Versailles, which you have to travel out of Paris to visit, gets seven million visitors per year. Buckingham Palace right in the centre of London gets less than 400,000."

A MORI poll on Sunday showed the Royal Family is more popular with the people than at any other time during the past decade, with 71 per cent satisfied with the way the Queen is doing her job.

But 55 per cent think the Royal Family is out of touch and 64 per cent think it should not get as much money as it does.

Given that the Queen is listed as one of the richest women in the world, does she need to be paid from public funds all? Through her reign she has built up a portfolio of personal shares and investments.

Last year Eurobusiness magazine said she was worth £2.18bn and American Fortune magazine estimated £5bn. The Palace privately indicated the sum is less than £100m. But the Queen's portfolio is one of the best-kept secrets of all time.