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Britons want Queen to pay for palace repair

world Updated: Nov 20, 2016 17:04 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
Royal family of Britain

The royal family costs the British taxpayer over £334 million a year, according to Graham Smith of the anti-monarchy group Republic. (REUTERS FILE)

It is one of Britain’s most known buildings that is home to the royals, but a government move to provide £369 million to repair Buckingham Palace has sparked growing calls that the repair should not be funded by the taxpayer but by the royal family itself.

The Theresa May government this week gave the go-ahead for essential works to be carried out over 10 years that include replacing electrical wiring, water pipes and the heating system, installed in the aftermath of the Second World War.

But anti-monarchy campaigners have called for Queen Elizabeth’s official funding grant to be scrapped and Buckingham Palace handed back to the people. A petition calling on the royal family to meet the repair’s cost soon attracted nearly 85,000 signatures.

The petition says: “Buckingham Palace is about to be given a £369 million refurbishment. Tax payers are paying for it. The Crown and its estates should be made to fund its own renovations”.

The opposition Labour, however, supported the official go-ahead: “It’s a national monument ... national heritage. It’s going to be treated that way, in the same way as the House of Commons. When you have these old buildings they have to be looked after,” said shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

The online petition says it was important that the Crown should meet the costs because of a “national housing crisis, the NHS is in crisis, austerity is forcing cuts in many front line services.”

“Now the Royals expect us to dig deeper to refurbish Buckingham Palace. The Crown's wealth is inestimable. This is, in a word, outrageous”, it says.

Graham Smith of the anti-monarchy group Republic said: “This is an absolute disgrace. An indictment on the Queen’s scandalous mismanagement of royal finances over six decades. MPs have repeatedly called on the palace to fund repairs by opening it up to tourists all year round and they’ve refused.”

“The obvious question is, why have the royals let it get into this state? Why haven't they raised revenue through opening up all year round? If the royals can't look after the buildings and raise their own revenue to fund maintenance, it’s time to give them up.”

Smith, who said the royal family costs the British taxpayer over £334 million a year, called for an independent inquiry and full disclosure into their spending.

“The monarchy's costs need to be stripped right back, put the institution on a proper budgetary footing and allow parliament to approve the budget each year,” he said.