In Depth

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

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

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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