Royal Collection Trust sees operating losses of £36 million due to pandemic

The Royal Collection Trust experienced operating losses of £36 million over the past year, its annual accounts have shown.

The charity warned it expects it to be several years before visitor numbers to royal residences and trading activity return to pre-pandemic levels, with further significant losses set for next year.

Its income was £6.8 million in the last financial year, compared to £71.5m million in 2019-20, and its expenditure was £42.8 million.

The annual report said the “huge drop” in visitor numbers and associated retail sales meant it faced a “significant loss of income”.

It put in place “a major staffing restructure, changes to pension arrangements to reduce cost, a pay and recruitment freeze and the suspension of all non-essential spend.”

But the report added: “Despite all the steps taken, the Trust incurred an operating loss of over £36,000,000 for the year.”

Some 124 staff left on voluntary redundancy terms and six left on compulsory terms.

The ending of fixed-term contracts, including intern and apprenticeship schemes, meant that in total 165 staff left the organisation.

Only 155,000 tourists visited royal residences in the last financial year amid the lockdown restrictions, compared to 3.3 million the year before.

Buckingham Palace’s traditional summer opening was cancelled in 2020, and also in 2021 – although it is open this year for the public to explore the gardens and picnic, but tickets must be bought in advance.

In May 2020, the trust agreed a five-year loan of £22 million with its bankers.

A second bank facility was put in place in March 2021 to allow additional borrowing of up to £30 million for a seven-year period.

The total sum borrowed at March 31 2021 was £34.5 million.

The trust’s online shop, however, saw a boost in sales, more than tripling from £0.9 million in 2019/2020 to £2.9 million in 2020/2021.

The trust maintains and displays the large collection of royal artefacts from artwork to furniture held in trust by the Queen for her heirs and the nation.