Cost of military aides criticised by anti-monarchists

Anti-monarchists have criticised the £500,000 spent on the royal family’s military aides last year, revealed following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

Graham Smith, chief executive officer of Republic, described the aides, known as equerries who are drawn from the Armed Forces, as a “disgraceful use of highly trained military personnel”.

In its response to the FoI request from Republic, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the “vast majority” of the costs would still have been incurred wherever the servicemen and women were posted.

Clarence House Christmas tree
The Queen watches as a former equerry places a decoration on the Christmas tree with his sable (Kin Cheung/PA)

Mr Smith said: “This is a disgraceful use of highly trained military personnel as window dressing for the King. I am calling on the military and Government to stop this practice immediately.

“We are often hearing that the military is stretched and under-staffed. With its additional commitments to Ukraine, how can the Government justify spending any of the country’s defence budget on people to open doors for Charles, Camilla and William?”

Equerries are an integral part of the offices of senior royals, with the King, Queen, Prince and Princess of Wales and Princess Royal having the aides who help organise their diaries and accompany them on official visits and overseas tours.

Some of the aides have risen to prominence after serving the royal family, with Lord Soames acting as Charles’ equerry in the early 1970s and going on to become a close friend of the King and serving as an MP for more than 30 years.

In its response to the FoI request, the MoD said it spent £506,681 on the equerries in 2023.

It added: “…you may find it helpful to note that the vast majority of costs come from fixed staff costs, which would still be incurred by the MOD regardless of where these personnel were employed.”

Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace have been contacted for comment.