Productivity deal

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The Independent Online

Apologists for the Royal Family seem to have an endless supply of reasons why the monarchy should always cost the taxpayer more rather than less. After all, polo ponies are rather expensive to look after.

Yesterday's figures for last year's cost to the public of the Royal Family are not huge: £36m. Alan Reid, the Queen's Keeper of the Privy Purse, says that "taking inflation into account, the cost per head of the population is still that of a loaf of bread". A fair point, Mr Reid, and the reference to white sliced a nice try-on with the proles. But that 60p can still be too much, you know. What about value for money? What about productivity? Surely there is some more room for improvement there? Can the little-used royal train really be the only dignified way for the Windsors to gad about? Why polo? Why the Earl of Wessex?

The price of monarchy, we should be aware, is eternal vigilance.