Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

It is one option being considered by the royal household, which says the palace needs new plumbing and wiring, with some rooms last decorated in 1952.

It comes as the Crown Estate, which owns property on behalf of the Queen, returned record profits of ?285m to the taxpayer last year ? up 6.7%.

Public funding of the Queen is expected to rise by ?2m next year ? to ?42.8m.
Historic high

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Scottish government has denied reports it could cut its contribution to the monarchy by between ?1m and ?1.5m when further powers are devolved.

The monarch is paid 15% of the Crown Estate?s profits by the UK government ? including from the Crown Estate in Scotland ? under the Sovereign Grant formula launched in 2011.

The latest accounts show the Queen last year received ?37.9m from the grant ? of which she spent ?35.7m. That figure will increase to ?40.05m this year, and is expected to rise to ?42.8m next year.

The figure does not include the cost of providing security for the Royal Family.

It comes as the Crown Estate?s annual results show its capital value is at a historic high of ?11.5 billion ? up 16.1%.

The accounts show that almost half of the annual grant was spent on payroll costs.

Property maintenance dipped from ?13.3m in 2013-14 to ?11.7m, with a surplus of ?2.2m transferred to reserves to help meet the future cost of work on Buckingham Palace.

Other details to emerge from the annual accounts for 2014/15 include:

Annual expenditure has risen ?3.6m or 11% over the past five yearsThere has been a 21% increase in travel costs, which rose from ?4.2m in 2013-14 to ?5.1m in 2014-15The royal household made 63 journeys that cost ?10,000 or moreThe most expensive journey made by the royal household was ?446,159, for an official visit by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to Colombia and Mexico from 28 October to 5 NovemberThe average number of sick days taken by employees of the royal household was 5.8 days ? below the national average of 6.6The Queen undertook 196 public engagements ? 113 fewer than in 2013/14A total of ?3.8m was spent on the general maintenance of the royal estate, an increase of 12% on 2013-14 and 23% on 2012-13

The Queen, who is 89, spends a third of the year hosting events at Buckingham Palace ? her official London home.

Sir Alan Reid, keeper of the Privy Purse, said: ?Over the coming years, the maintenance of the estate and in particular Buckingham Palace, will present a significant financial challenge.

?We will continue to work closely with the trustees to ensure that the funding for the royal household reflects that challenge.?

Royal sources told reporters that significant amounts of asbestos needed to be removed from Buckingham Palace in a project described as a fundamental ?re-service?.

?One option is for the palace to be vacated. The initial estimate for the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace looks like ?150m,? a source said.

?That depends on how you go about refurbishment, whether you do it in parts or the whole thing (at once).?

Graham Smith, from campaign group Republic, called for a change in approach.

?It is time that the whole funding system is scrapped, re-written, that the monarchy is put on a proper budgetary fitting ? and that maintenance of the palace is taken out of their hands and given over to the same people that look after the Tower of London very well.?

Reports that Scotland?s contribution to royal funding could be reduced by more than ?1.5m if plans for further devolution go ahead have been dismissed by both the UK and Scottish governments.

A royal source quoted by the Press Association said there could be a cut if profits from the Crown Estate in Scotland are retained by the Scottish Parliament rather than the UK Parliament in a year?s time.

But both the Scottish and UK governments said they did not expect devolution to have any negative impact on Scotland?s contribution to funding the monarchy.

A UK Treasury spokesman said the sovereign grant would not be ?adversely affected? by devolution.

And a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: ?Scotland will continue to make the same financial contribution to the monarchy as at present ? there will be no reduction in the sovereign grant as a result of devolution of the Crown Estate.?

BBC

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