LONDON (Reuters) – Soaring inflation has hit the finances of the British royals, pushing up expenditure, Buckingham Palace said on Thursday, as it revealed King Charles had ordered the heating in royal homes to be turned down to cut emissions.
The annual Sovereign Grant report, which details the royals’ taxpayer-funded spending and income, detailed that the monarch said thermostats should be turned down to 19 degrees Celsius (66.2°F) to cut greenhouse gas emissions, in keeping with his long-term environmental campaigning.
“You will not need me to remind you that this reporting period relates to a year in which inflationary pressures saw the price of many goods and services increase significantly for all organisations, in particular with regards to the cost of fuel and energy,” said Michael Stevens, the royal treasurer.
The last year has been one of the busiest for the royal family in generations, with celebrations for Queen Elizabeth’s 70th year on the throne last June, followed by her death in September and the coronation of King Charles in May.
The report said 1.6 million pounds ($2 million) had been spent by the royals on the queen’s funeral and related events. The British government said in May it had cost an estimated 162 million pounds overall, which includes the cost of policing and security.
“The funeral service itself was believed to have been viewed by the largest worldwide audience for any live event in television history,” said Stevens, whose official title is Keeper of the Privy Purse.
Royal spending rose by 5% to 107.5 million pounds, with staff costs rising significantly, while the Sovereign Grant – based on surplus revenue from the Crown Estate, a property portfolio belonging to the monarchy, remained at 86.3 million pounds and additional income fell slightly to 9.8 million.
The report said the proportion of ethnic minority employees had stayed at 9.7%, missing its target of reaching 10% by the end of 2022. It has set a new target of 14% by 2025. Around 18% of the population of England and Wales belong to an ethnic group, according to government data.
“We are determined to accelerate progress in this area,” Stevens said.
He said gas and heating emissions had fallen 19%, partly driven by the king having the thermostats turned down, and a 43% decrease in travel emissions.
Critics of the royals said the monarchy cost far more than the report suggested, and said Charles’ son and heir Prince William, who received 6 million pounds from his inherited Duchy of Cornwall estate, should have published full details of his annual accounts.
“The royals have long hidden their true cost, which we have worked out to be at least 345 million pounds. That’s enough to pay for 13,000 new nurses or teachers,” said Graham Smith, chief executive of campaign group Republic.
Stevens also disclosed that Charles’ younger son Prince Harry and his wife Meghan had vacated their Frogmore Cottage home on the Windsor Castle estate and had paid back all taxpayer-funded spending on the property, “leaving the Crown with a greatly enhanced asset”.
He declined to comment on Prince Andrew’s use of Royal Lodge, the property within the Windsor estate which newspapers have said the king would like his younger brother to vacate.
($1 = 0.7910 pounds)
(Reporting by Michael Holden. Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)
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