Royal spending rises as young princes carry out more work

The amount spent by the Prince of Wales on funding the activities of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry increased by 40 per cent with the arrival of Meghan Markle into the Royal family.

Prince Charles paid £4.96 million towards the activities of Prince William, his wife and Prince Harry last year, an increase of £1.43m on the previous year’s total of £3.52m.

The increase coincided with the first four months of Ms Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry from November last year, and is thought to have included a certain additional amount to pay for her activities and public engagements as his fiancee.

New data from the royal accounts reveal that the public funds used by the Queen for official spending and royal duties jumped from £41.9 million ($54.8 million) to £47.4 million ($62 million) last year.

The main reason for the 13-percent increase in costs borne by the taxpayer is understood to be the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace. Over £4 million ($5.2 million) was spent on the initial phase of improvements at the palace, which included the removal of old wiring.

The Queen’s official pay-packet is derived from public funds in exchange for revenue from the Crown Estate. The “core” of the sovereign grant is usually based on 15 percent of the net surplus of the Crown Estate, but this year the grant is based on 25 percent of the surplus in order to meet the costs of refurbishing the palace.

Overall, the total Sovereign Grant was £76.1 million ($99.6 million). Of this amount, £28.7 million ($37.6 million) was placed in reserves, intended to pay for the palace renovation.

Royal travel has also cost the public an eyewatering sum – £4.7 million ($6.2 million) – with Prince Charles’s tour of India and the Far East in November 2017 coming in as the most expensive. The tour cost a staggering £362,149 ($473,987), and he has also used royal train twice as often as the Queen, at a cost of around £20,000 ($26,180) per trip.

Figures released by the Prince of Wales’ private office, Clarence House, show that spending has also increased for his children and their wives. In total, the bill footed by the taxpayer for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex went from £3.5 million ($4.6 million) to £5 million ($6.5 million). A palace spokesman declined to comment on how much of the increase was attributable to Meghan Markle.

Separate figures show the Crown Estate provided £329.4 million ($431.2 million) to the Treasury, a like-for-like increase of around 4 percent compared with last year’s figures for England only.

Keeper of the Privy Purse Sir Michael Stevens, who oversees the royal family’s finances, told the BBC that “there are three generations of the royal family at work together in support of the Queen.”

“Each generation brings its own style and personality,” he said. “What everyone shares is a desire for the monarchy to reflect and serve all parts of our country and the wider Commonwealth.

“The [palace renovation] program addresses the urgent need to overhaul the palace’s essential services – some of which have not been updated since the 1950s. These important works will help avert the very real danger of a catastrophic building failure such as a flood or fire.”

Anti-royalist campaigners lashed out at the new data, saying that the Queen costs the taxpayer dearly.

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