More visitors to Buckingham Palace needed to help Queen pay bills

Buckingham Palace White Drawing Room
Buckingham Palace White Drawing Room


Is the royal family running out of money? Buckingham Palace looks set to open its doors to visitors to London much more frequently - because the Queen has overspent her budget by £2.3million.

According to the Public Accounts Committee, which has been scrutinising the royal finances, the family is given £31 million a year to fund royal duties, pay staff and maintain the palaces. But last year it overspent by a well over £2million.

MPs say she the only way to make up the shortfall is to open the palace for more of the year in order to balance the books. But is that practical?

Buckingham Palace State Rooms Summer Opening
Buckingham Palace State Rooms Summer Opening



According to the BBC the overspend meant the royals had to dip into their reserves - leaving them at a historically low level of contingency. There's just £1 million left in the coffers - compared with 2001 when there was £35 million spare. Chairwoman Margaret Hodge said: "They're spending above their means, they're dipping into the reserves and the balance now stands at an all-time low."

The royal family made £11.6 million last year, but MPs say they could do more. One of their suggestions is to open up Buckingham Palace whenever the Queen was not at home. At the moment half a million people visit during August and September, but the MPs would like to see more paying customers through the doors.

It's not known how workable this will be, or how easy it would be to prepare the palace for a couple of weeks at a time. However, there are plenty of aristocrats happily sharing space with tourists at country houses around the UK. They prepare the state rooms for customers and ramble around the rest of the building in peace.

It would be a major step for the royals to have to do the same, but there is a real risk if nothing is done. One major criticism in the report was that buildings are not being properly looked after at the moment. The Telegraph recently reported that staff were catching rain in buckets to protect art and antiquities, while out-of-date heating systems means the Queen faced heating bills of £774,000 a year.

Buckingham Palace drawing room
Buckingham Palace drawing room


It may seem bizarre to think of the royal family running out of money. However, it's not the first time the notion has been raised. In 2009 the Queen had to borrow £6.5 million from the reserve, and commentators were predicting that the family would be broke by 2012.

Opening the palace to tourists is arguably one of the less dramatic steps royalty has taken in the past when money was tight. Charles I had a weakness for paintings and a habit of getting into expensive wars. Finances were one of the key reasons why he fell out with parliament in the first place - which sowed the seeds for the Civil War.

Meanwhile, before George IV took the throne, he ran up enormous debts. Parliament had to pay off the equivalent of £17 million.

And even Queen Victoria's father Edward Duke of Kent had money troubles. He and his wife ran out of money when Victoria was a baby, and were forced to move into a modest family house to make ends meet.

Should the Queen open up to visitors more frequently? Tell us in the comments below.



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Queen's Household Told to Do More to Cut Costs
Queen's Household Told to Do More to Cut Costs