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Royal family bill to UK taxpayers at all-time high. What are we paying for?

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When one thinks of Britain some iconic images immediately come to mind, and the Royal Family is without a doubt one of them, alongside Queen Elizabeth II’s corgis and dorgis, copious amounts of tea and biscuits, pubs, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, fish and chips, Wellington boots and our iconic red double-decker buses and post boxes, to name just a few. However, after Oprah Winfrey’s recent televised two-hour interview with Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, the image of the royal family has been catapulted into the media spotlight yet again. So much so that it has inspired a report that highlights just how much British taxpayers are shelling out each year for the Royal Family‘s upkeep.

How much do taxpayers pay the Royal Family?

The latest Sovereign Grant accounts show that the monarchy cost taxpayers £69.4 million in 2020, according to a Statista report.  In the fiscal year 2018/19, the Royal Estate in the United Kingdom earned £48.4m from admissions income. This was a significant jump from the previous year. Although income from ticket admissions has grown year on year since the beginning of the period (with the exception of 2012/13 and 2014/15), these increases have not been as high.

What do the Royals get up to?

  • 2,000: the number of official engagements carried out by the Royal Family each year in the UK and overseas
  • 70,000: the number of people entertained each year to dinners, lunches, receptions and garden parties at the Royal residences
  • 100,000: the number of letters received and answered each year by the Royal Family

How does the Monarchy get paid by taxpayers?

The system of funding the monarchy is complicated. The UK government makes a payment called the Sovereign Grant to the Royal Household every year. Its value is determined by how much money the Crown Estate real estate portfolio has brought in, said the Statista report.

That total added up to £82.4 million in 2020 with the figure rising in recent years to cover renovation work at Buckingham Palace. Of that total, the monarchy spent £69.4 million on official duties including travel as well as other costs such as staff and property maintenance. Maintenance and the renovation of Buckingham Palace are the key reasons the total is so high at the moment.

The Royal Household spent £18.1m on the salaries of their permanent staff, compared to just £0.3 million for temporary workers.

In 2018, the Press Association reported that policing costs for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton were £6.35 million, including £2.8 million for police overtime. The Metropolitan Police reportedly said that £3.6 million was paid by a Home Office grant for “additional costs”.  

The 10-year Buckingham Palace refurb

Buckingham Palace’s electrical, heating and plumbing systems all date from the 1950s and are in urgent need of replacement. As part of 10-year renovation plan, wiring and pipework will be replaced while asbestos will be removed from the building. New elevators will also be installed to assist disabled visitors.

Media treatment of the royals

Harry and Meghan have had a tumultuous relationship with the press throughout their marriage, and in a YouGov survey it was revealed that 50 per cent of British adults thought that Meghan had received an overly critical treatment from the media just prior to this interview, with 44 per cent believing the same of Harry’s treatment. By contrast, the media treatment of Harry’s brother Prince William, was seen by just five per cent of people as being overly critical.

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