Queen Elizabeth II has been asked to do more for less. A recent report on the Royal finances shows the royal reserve is down to its last £1 million, the equivalent of $1.6 million. A law change in 2012 yielded a single Sovereign Grant, combining the Civil List and Grants-in-Aid. The Sovereign Grant was put in place to fund palace upkeep and state functions. To ensure accountability and proper spending, the Nation Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee has been charged with overseeing the grant. The grant is designed to progressively increase. A net expenditure of £33 million pounds in 2012 exceeded the £31 million pound grant by £2 million, thus depleting Queen Elizabeth II’s royal reserve of £3 million to just £1 million.
One of the issues which auditors have cited as troubling is an apparent lack of planning for palace upkeep and maintenance. It is reported that the boiler at Buckingham Palace is over sixty years old. Many other royal properties are considered to be dangerously deteriorating, with what analysts claim is no clear plan for repairs in sight. Queen Elizabeth II has also been criticized for the lack of staffing adjustments in an unsteady economy. Limited access to Buckingham Palace, and the potential income lost by having those limitations in place, has also been called into question. Buckingham Palace is open to the pubic an average of seventy-eight days a year. That is far less than many other royal palaces.
Although Queen Elizabeth II has been painted in the media as being complacent about the spending problem, a secret list mentioned in an article in the Washington Post suggests that the royals are, indeed, trying to do more for less. Officials for Buckingham Palace also claim that the increase in income from 2007 to 2013 was almost £5 million. The list appears to have been prepared by Queen Elizabeth II herself in an effort to conserve.
According to the article, the secret list contains fourteen thrifty ideas for cutting costs. The list includes changing the premium brand dog food for the Corgis to supermarket brands, shopping at Walmart, issuing head torches for the butlers at night, limiting television viewing to twice a week, and even doing more horse race betting. The list suggests possibly adding mini-golf at Buckingham Palace, cutting expenditures for alcohol, and even making Fergie a tour guide. The controversial subject of charging for honors and titles is even broached. The list continues with some inventive ideas for Queen Elizabeth II herself. The launch of the Queen’s own perfume, a reality-TV show, a tell-all memoir, and widespread use of the Queen’s face on money and stamps are suggested, in addition to a possible ladies clothing swap, with the exception of crowns.
Queen Elizabeth II has been known to the British public for her lavish parties and extravagant spending, though many claim that is exactly the expectation placed on her. The spending has not been done in the absence of oversight and accountability, however, and the recent criticisms have been seen by some as mere political posturing on the part of some in Parliament. Regardless, there are few who actually believe that the royal family is about to go bankrupt.
The Queen is fairly universally accepted to be an intelligent woman with a broad spectrum of insight into the best interest of her people. Since the Queen’s coronation in 1953, she has seen many economic and sociological changes over the course of her reign. Queen Elizabeth continually presents herself as trying to keep up with the times. With the many economic changes the Queen has seen since taking the throne, many of the British people have faith that Queen Elizabeth II can, indeed, do more for less.
By Shannon Malone