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Queen's accounts show 35m bill

Safety maintenance is deemed as essential to avoid fires similar to this year's one at Buckingham Palace
Safety maintenance is deemed as essential to avoid fires similar to this year's one at Buckingham Palace  

LONDON, England -- Queen Elizabeth II has spent 35 million during the past financial year, mainly on salaries, travel and palace upkeep, records show.

The figures, published on Thursday, reveal spending has increased by 1 percent from 34.9 million between 2000 and 2001 to 35.3 million a year later -- a rise of 400,000.

The figures were released for the first time on an annual basis rather than the usual 10-yearly interval.

The sum, partly paid for by the Civil List and Crown Estate, is a huge reduction on the 84.6 million spent between 1991 and 1992, as revealed in the last published audit -- a fall of 58 percent.

Even the estimated 21 percent increase in cost for the Queen's Jubilee Celebrations, between 2002 and 2003, will not push the figure up to such levels. (Jubilee)

The bulk of last year's 50,000 rise went towards fire safety measures at one of the queen's residences in Scotland, the Palace of Hoyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

The queen's official Golden Jubilee celebrations in June were almost threatened by a fire in the attic of the west wing of her official residence at Buckingham Palace in London. (Fire at Palace)

Property maintenance and services take up most of the queen's expenses, rising last year by 200,000 from 15.3 million to 15.5 million.

Travel, including rail and air, also makes a dent in the royal household's budget costing 4.9 million -- down from 5.34 million on the previous year.

The palace, which has been criticised in the past for paying low salaries to its 284 staff, saw one of the biggest overall bill increases -- from 4.6 million to 6.1 million.

The average wage was 19,000 (up 5.2 percent on 2000) with the highest individual salary being 172,000 paid to the position of Keeper of the Privy Purse, or treasurer.

The cost accounted for 74 percent of the 8.15 million given by taxpayers through the Civil List.

The rest of the Civil List went towards helping support the queen, whose joy at the success of her Golden Jubilee has been overshadowed by the deaths within weeks of her sister, Princess Margaret, and her mother, the Queen Mother: (Story)

* Fulfil 2,200 official engagements.

The queen has just celebrated 50 years on the throne
The queen has just celebrated 50 years on the throne  

* Entertain about 70,000 people at garden parties, state banquets and receptions.

* Hold 22 investitures for about 2,600 people.

* Send 21,000 anniversary messages.

* Handle more than 49,000 items of correspondence.

The amount of the Civil List rose from 6.5 million to 8.2 million, paid for by a 35 million reserve fund from savings in previous years.

The queen's Crown Estate paid for the biggest items in the 35 million bill, including property maintenance and travel. Revenue from the estate is paid to the state. Revenue shot up from 93.5 million in 1991-92 to 148 million last year.

The accounts also show that the royals held off from the gin and tonic last year but began to become switched onto technology.

Their spending on wines and beverages dropped by more than 50 percent from 107,000 to 45,000.

The queen, who was given a mobile phone for her birthday by her son Andrew this year, saw expenditure on computers and information systems rise from 28,000 to 34,000.

In the run-up to jubilee year expenditure on carriages dropped by about a third from 111,000 to 82,000, while payment for uniforms and protective clothing rose from 68,000 to 94,000.

Other costs included:

* Garden parties up from 430,000 to 442,000.

* Food and kitchens up from 294,000 to 330,000.

* Cars down from 42,000 to 38,000.

* Housekeeping up from 210,000 to 239,000.

Labour MP Geraint Davies, a member of the influential Commons Public Accounts Select Committee, told the UK's Press Association: "I think it is important now that the National Audit Office does have full access to these accounts and is able to audit all of the 35 million that is expended by the royals so that we can determine whether we are getting value for money or not."

Earlier this month the committee visited another London royal residence Kensington Palace as part of their inquiry into royal spending.

Some of the committee's members criticised the low rents paid by some minor royals living at the palace.


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