Even Queen faces funding squeeze in austerity Britain

Thu Jun 30, 2011 1:40pm EDT
 
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By Keith Weir

LONDON (Reuters) - Queen Elizabeth became the latest Briton to face a funding squeeze on Thursday when the government proposed changes to how it pays for royal trips and engagements.

The Conservative-led government, which is imposing cost cuts and tax rises on more humble Britons, plans to finance the royal family by providing a 15 percent slice of profits from a property portfolio belonging to the monarchy.

"The current estimate is that the 15 percent formula means that by 2014-15, the last year of this Parliament, the Monarch will receive around 35 million pounds ($56 million)," Finance Minister George Osborne told parliament.

"In cash terms that is broadly in line with what they spent in recent years. In real terms it is an around 9 percent cut over the Parliament," he added, taking inflation into account.

Under a settlement with King George III in 1760, profits from the monarchy's Crown Estate properties go to the Treasury while the monarch received a fixed annual payment.

Osborne said his proposal meant that the amount of money going to the queen would now be linked to the performance of the economy. The new "Sovereign Grant" will replace three different payments -- the one from the Treasury, and additional support from the departments of transport and culture.

Royal spending will also face the same level of parliamentary scrutiny as other government departments.

" new Sovereign Grant ... balances the public interest that our Queen is properly funded to carry out her official duties and the completely legitimate interest of the taxpayer in proper accountability and value for money," Osborne said.   Continued...

 
<p>Britain's Queen Elizabeth (C) inspects soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland during the Ceremony of the Keys at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland June 30, 2011. REUTERS/David Moir</p>