UK queen to charge entrance fee for anniversary fair

Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:17am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - In a break with tradition, people will be charged to enter the gardens of Queen Elizabeth's London residence where a trade fair and series of concerts will be held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of her 1953 coronation.

Members of the public are regularly treated to the large green space behind the imposing Buckingham Palace, but they usually go free either as invited guests to garden parties or on special occasions like the Diamond Jubilee picnic earlier this year.

But next July, up to 60,000 visitors will be able to enter the gardens if they manage to buy tickets to a trade fair organized by the Royal Warrant Holders Association (RWHA) which decides which companies receive the coveted Royal Warrant.

The Coronation Festival will be held from July 11-14, and people wanting day tickets to visit trade stalls set up in the palace gardens will pay 30 pounds ($48) while those wanting to attend one of three evening galas will pay 90 pounds each.

There will be no concessions and tickets go on sale from December 16. The July 11 events are by invitation only.

"This will be the first time we've run an event of this kind in the gardens of Buckingham Palace," David Walker, Master of the Royal Household, told reporters at a briefing held at the palace on Tuesday.

Asked whether the royal family should be charging people to use the garden, he added: "This has got to stand on its own two feet commercially and is a very expensive event to stage."

Companies with the royal seal of approval must pay to have a stall at the fair, and RWHA secretary Richard Peck said the event was designed to celebrate innovation and excellence in British industry and to boost exports and investment.   Continued...

Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives at the Royal Variety Performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London, November 19, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Winning