You guys, the Queen is BROKE. She’s down to her “last” £1 million!!! Clutch your royal collection pearls!! Actually, this is a somewhat serious situation, although there is a lot being left unsaid about the royal finances, which I’ll get to in a moment. Apparently, the Queen’s financial situation is so dire that now the UK’s Treasury is basically doing an audit of the royal finances and they’re going to help the Queen figure out what she’s doing wrong and how to replenish the royal coffers.
The Queen’s household finances were at a “historic low” with just £1 million left in reserve, MPs said on Monday. Her courtiers were advised to take money-saving tips from the Treasury. A report by the Commons public accounts committee found that the Queen’s advisers were failing to control her finances while the royal palaces were “crumbling”.
MPs said her advisers had overspent to such an extent that her reserve fund had fallen from £35 million in 2001 to just £1 million today.
The Royal household had made efficiency savings of just 5 per cent over the past five years compared with government departments, that are cutting their budgets by up to a third. MPs on the committee said the Treasury must “get a grip” and help to protect the royal palaces from “further damage and deterioration”.
Margaret Hodge, the Labour chairman of the committee, said: “We believe that the Treasury has a duty to be actively involved in reviewing the household’s financial planning and management — and it has failed to do so.”
Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are reported to be in urgent need of repair. Staff must catch rain in buckets to protect art and antiquities, while the Queen’s old boilers were contributing to bills of £774,000 a year.
Mrs Hodge said: “The household must get a much firmer grip on how it plans to address its maintenance backlog. It has not even costed the repair works needed to bring the estate back to an acceptable condition. Again, the Treasury has an oversight role here.”
In April 2012 the Sovereign Grant replaced the old way of funding the Royal family through the Civil List and various Government grants. The Sovereign Grant represents 15 per cent of the net surplus income of the Crown Estate, land holdings that generate money for the Treasury.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the sovereign grant had made the Queen’s funding “more transparent and scrutinised” and was resulting in a “more efficient use of public funds”. He said that repairing the royal palaces was a “significant financial priority”, and that the Royal household had almost doubled its income to £11.6 million since 2007.
The spokesman said: “The move to the Sovereign Grant has created a more transparent and scrutinised system, which enables the Royal household to allocate funding according to priorities. This has resulted in a more efficient use of public funds.”
A Treasury spokesman said: “The new arrangements established by the Sovereign Grant Act have made the royal finances more transparent than ever while providing the long term stability necessary for good planning.”
The Labour MPs point out that a tourist hot-spot like the Tower of London is able to make money for its upkeep by staying open a large part of the year for tourism, and that’s what the Queen needs to do too – open up her properties to more (paying) tourists and open gift shops all over the place, I’m assuming. The Telegraph lists all of the repairs needed to be done to some of the royal properties, mostly Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, and how the Queen hasn’t even started because there’s NO MONEY to do it.
The problem with all of this is that no one even wants the Queen to dip into her personal financial reserves, which are said to be extensive, or the reserves of “the Crown” – which are owned by “the people,” and for which the Queen is merely the current caretaker. Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are Crown Properties, and if push came to shove, the Crown (the government and the Queen) could choose to sell off other crown properties (just a fraction of the Crown jewelry collection or just a few pieces of artwork) to finance the refurbishment of BP and Windsor Castle. As for the Queen’s personal wealth… it’s said that the Queen has a personal wealth of mid to high nine-figures, mostly through inherited property like Sandringham and Balmoral and her personal jewelry collection, etc. Let’s not clutch our pearls and act like the Queen is down to her last one million OVERALL. She’s not. That being said, the Queen does need to figure out how to get more bang for her buck overall (gift shops!).
Photos courtesy of WENN.