Royal Family: is 56p a year a bargain for our monarchy?

Jun 26, 2014

Royals 'buck trend for austerity' with £14k flight to Scotland and £4.5m refurb for Kate and Wills

Dan Kitwood / Staff/ Getty images

The cost of the monarchy to the taxpayer has risen from £33.3m to £35.7m in the last tax year.

The increase – described by the palace as nearly six per cent in real terms – was mainly due to a dramatic rise in spending on the upkeep of its properties. Around £800,000 was needed to remove asbestos in the basement of Buckingham Palace and £900,000 to fix a leaking roof at the Windsor Castle's Royal Library.

The biggest single refurbishment project has been at Kensington Palace, where taxpayers have shelled out £4.5m for work on Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's apartment. According to the palace, this was neither "lavish" nor "opulent" but just like "an ordinary family home".

The palace claims these are buildings where essential works have not been carried out for more than half a century and where there is now clear evidence of deterioration, says BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell.

While the cost of royal travel actually fell by £300,000 on the previous year, it still cost taxpayers £4.2m. This does not include the cost of security for the royal family, which has never been disclosed.

Prince Andrew spent £14,692 on a charter flight from Farnborough to Scotland so he could watch the Open Championship at Muirfield and visit the Royal Highland Fusiliers, while Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles spent £434,000 on a visit to India.

Royal aides insist the cost amounts to 56p for each person in the country and represents "value for money".

The Independent notes that the royal household "bucked the trend for austerity", increasing its taxpayer costs by more than double the rate of inflation. Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, a campaign group for a democratic alternative to the monarchy, told the newspaper "an increase of this magnitude when everybody is dealing with cuts is frankly beyond belief".

The Daily Express, however, thinks the cost is "exceptionally good value". It says the royals bring the British people together, attract huge numbers of tourists and make "exceptional" ambassadors. "Such things are priceless," it says. "To get them for 56p a year is a bargain."

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Dreadful, absolutely dreadful. A country that cannot feed, house nor educate it's citizens, this lot skim £40m every year to dress up in funny uniforms, go partying in LA, chill on Necker Island and pollute the planet.

The institution of the monarchy has no place in a modern democracy. It is demeaning to us all and the sooner it is consigned to history the better for us all - but only through democratic process.

Can there ever have been so much luxury lavished on an individual/family fulfilling an unelected role, requiring no qualification other than an accident of birth?

Three or four speeches a year; plenty of free travel, a selection of palaces, a little light hand waving and the awarding of unearned and largely irrelevant decorations and titles to one's immediate family; not a bad old life. One can apparently fool most of the people most of the time and for generations. the manifest risk of being non-PC and, therefore, obviously out of step with "mainstream" opinion - YES! I DO think that the monarchy is worth 56p per year.

It is easy to snipe from the ill-informed and resentful sidelines - such is the inalienable "human right" of the metropolitan chattering classes - but just how many of us would actually be willing to carry out, or be capable of fulfilling, the hugely important international role that our Royal Family does, through good times and bad? Very few, methinks.

Why let total ignorance of a subject prevent you from casting an opinion on that subject?

...Peter - I respect your opinion and share your evident concern re the poor among us - however, do you not think that "charity must start at home"?

Surely, with the obscene amounts of money sprayed at foreign dictators and despots in the guise of "Overseas Aid" there should be some scope to divert some of that money to our own very poor and needy?

As an American among the multitude of my fellow citizens who keep telling the left the US is a Republic, not a Democracy, I share the exasperation of those in Britain who must be incensed at claims England is a "democracy".

England probably spends a great deal more money on foreign aid to third world dictatorships in a month than it does in a year on the Royal Properties, which actually belong to the government, not the Royal family, and for which the Government should pay the cost of restoration and preservation.

As for the "poor", putting an end to all this immigration into England would reduce the costs of government and provide more jobs to Britons.

How about the hundreds of millions of pounds the government gives to third world nations in foreign aid each year, versus the few million spent on restoring and preserving the landmark palaces which belong to the British People? If Britain cut back immigration, there would be more jobs for your fellow citizens and less cost to the government for welfare and benefits.
Don't you ever think about those subjects, or do you just get fired up about the cost of the monarchy?

Randy / Chris
This lot have, privilege, security, education, wealth, housing, food & more by a phenomenon of birth. In a world where there is abundance for all, no problem.
Sure, despots & dictators have to be run out of town.

This lot have, privilege, security, education, wealth, housing, food & more by a phenomenon of birth. In a world where there is abundance for all, no problem.
Sure, despots & dictators have to be run out of town.

...granted, Peter - but there are many such people in our midst - although I doubt that very many of them work so hard on behalf of this country as do our Royal Family.

Harry, for example, despite a rather unsure start in public life, does wear his heart on his sleeve and he appears to leave himself with rather limited private time. It is a reported "fact" that he has found difficulty in finding a potential wife - any future wife recognises that she would have to sacrifice so much, in order to be a member of the House of Windsor plc. Hardly a privilege?

I acknowledge that my views are probably at variance with many people out there but, at least, perhaps we should take some time to reflect.

Fair comment.

£4.5m could have bought a few "ordinary family homes" even in the steroid induced London market. This 56p cost gets bandied around by those who seek to deceive. Not everyone who is here pays tax (some are on the dole, some are too young to work and some invest in offshore tax havens or elaborate tax schemes and some are non-doms) so for all these people it costs them nothing and the burden shifts to the few who pay tax.

Do you realise that the international role they play is to a large part a result of soft power gained via international aid which you seem to have a UKIP view of? There is ofcourse an argument to be had re better targetting of that money to get the maximum benefit like "teach a man to fish" as opposed to give "a man a fish " and all that.