(LONDON) — Buckingham Palace accountants insisted Friday that the cost of maintaining Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family is a bargain for taxpayers, despite a price tag of 40 million pounds ($80 million), while a prominent anti-monarchist group said many of the true costs are hidden.
The Republic group also complained that the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, spent more than 22,000 pounds ($44,000) of public money to take a helicopter to the Kentucky Derby during a prolonged official visit to the United States.
“She took a day off and went to the horse races and it cost the taxpayers a lot of money,” said Republic spokesman Graham Smith. “We’re going to raise serious questions about that. Why are we paying for a day at the races?”
The figures released Friday are incomplete, he said, because they don’t include such things as security and the costs to local governments of royal visits.
In their annual report on the use of public money to support the queen and senior royals in their officials duties, Buckingham Palace officials stressed that the cost of the monarchy for each taxpayer is just 66 pence ($1.30) for each British subject.
It costs each Briton “less than the cost of two pints of milk or a download to an iPod” to fund the monarchy, according to a statement posted Friday on the queen’s Web site.
Palace officials said public spending on the monarchy has increased from 38 million pounds ($76 million) to 40 million pounds ($80 million) for the year ending March 31 compared with the year before, but accountants said this was because of rising travel and maintenance costs, not a freespending lifestyle.
Accountants pointed out that real costs had dropped more than 3 percent in the last seven years due to cost-cutting measures.
Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said the queen’s financial advisers pay “continuous attention to obtaining value for money.”
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This article was posted: Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 9:25 pm