More than 100,000 sign petition asking Queen to pay for £369m palace repairs

Who do you think should pay?

Should taxpayers fork out for Buckingham Palace renovations?

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition demanding royals pay for repairs to Buckingham Palace.

The petition was started after it was announced on Friday that the taxpayer would be entirely funding a £369 million 10-year resurfacing project.

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Critics immediately pointed out that public money was also crucially needed elsewhere, such as in schools and hospitals.

The 38 Degrees petition, started by Mark Johnson, said: "There is 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."

Labour's shadow business secretary Clive Lewis told ITV's Peston Show that there were lots of priorities out there and he wouldn't place Buckingham Palace as the highest.

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He added: "I think the Queen could contribute quite a bit towards that - she's one of the wealthiest people in the country. Why not?"

Asked on the Marr Show if the Royals should pay, Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: "Well, I think that's for them to consider. I think we'd welcome it."

He went on: "It's a public monument, a heritage building - so we have to invest in it to preserve it."If the Queen and the royal family want to consider a contribution I certainly wouldn't send the cheque back.

"It does show though that when we need the money for buildings and maintenance we can afford it.

"So we should be building homes, we should be tackling the maintenance problems that ordinary people have got as well."

Chancellor Phillip Hammond - one of the three Royal Trustees alongside Theresa May and Sir Alan Reid who recommended the huge public spend - insisted the Palace is "decrepit" and the Government has a responsibility to keep it well maintained.

He said: "This is a Grade I listed building, an important and iconic monument, a key element supporting Britain's hugely important tourist industry.

"There's a fire risk, there's flood risk hazard from the decrepit state of the services in Buckingham Palace."

As well as receiving the annual Sovereign Grant from taxpayers, The Queen also pockets annual net profits from the Duchy of Lancaster's Estate in her role as Sovereign, which next April will be £17.8 million.

She also has personal wealth which she is not required to disclose.

In 2014 the Public Accounts Committee criticised the Royal Household for mismanaging its finances and said it could to do more to "generate more income and reduce its costs further".

One suggestion to fund improvements was to open the palace more to the paying public.

Royal finances expert David McLure, author of Royal Legacy, told the Mirror yesterday there were other options for funding the work that did not involve the taxpayer footing the entire bill so immediately.

He said: "No-one is saying there isn't an enormous backlog of palace repairs."But given the pressure on the public purse at the moment I would have thought they could do it bit by bit out of the existing grant they receive.

"The other option is that The Queen could dip into the money she receives from the Duchy of Lancaster and contribute a few million pounds.

"Yes it's not a private residence, but as a gesture she could do that."

He added: "They could also do far more in terms of opening up the palace for more than two months of the year to generate their own extra income or they could even go down the Swedish route and have it open all year round and the Monarch could live somewhere else such as Windsor where she spends a significant amount of time anyway."

The 300-year-old palace has been the official residence of the Monarchy since Queen Victoria's era and is where public events including investitures, State Banquets and garden parties are held.

However, it has fallen into a state of disrepair and a report has found major works are now necessary.


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