UK

Queen spends £1.2m on hospitality

The Queen at a garden party
Image caption The Queen entertains about 50,000 people a year

The Queen's household spent £1.2m of taxpayers' money on hospitality last year, a report has revealed.

Some £700,000 went on garden parties and £500,000 on food and kitchens.

The Report of the Royal Trustees, published once a decade, showed yearly expenditure on entertaining rose £400,000 during the last eight years.

Buckingham Palace said food and kitchen costs had increased "in line with food inflation but will remain at this level in 2010".

Taxpayers fund the household annually through the Civil List, which has been frozen by Chancellor George Osborne at £7.9m for the coming year.

Mr Osborne, delivering his emergency Budget on Tuesday, said the freeze was made with the monarch's full agreement.

The Report of the Royal Trustees revealed one of the biggest expenses for the Queen's household was staff wages, with £10.3m spent on paying workers in 2009.

The royal household employs about 1,200 staff, from furniture restorers, caterers and gardeners, to secretaries, press officers and property surveyors.

The wage bill has increased by £4.2m since 2001 and is expected to rise to £10.4m in 2010.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "Approximately 70% of the Civil List is spent on salaries to enable members of the Household support the Queen to perform her Head of State duties.

"It is important to note that in the last 10 years the Civil List headcount has increased by only 15 people."

Royal travel

The report also revealed £300,000 of public money was spent on royal furnishings and equipment last year, £300,000 went on stationery, printing and binding, and the same amount on ceremonial functions.

Buckingham Palace said that although rising salary costs were the largest part of the rise, the Royal Household has taken responsibility for additional expenditure since 2000 which was met previously by government departments.

This relates to security liaison, Freedom of Information, records management and information technology.

By 2010, the cost of these additional functions has risen to £3.6m per year - or a quarter of the total Civil List expenditure, Buckingham Palace said.

A total of £100,000 was spent on royal travel.

Salary and pension payments for members of the Lord Chamberlain's Committee, who are paid from the Civil List, were also disclosed.

Keeper of the Privy Purse Sir Alan Reid, whose role includes overseeing the management of the Civil List, was paid £180,000 in 2009-10.

Meanwhile, the Rt Hon Christopher Geidt, the Private Secretary to the Queen, earned £146,000.

Both earn more than Prime Minister David Cameron, whose salary is £142,500.

The amount provided to the Civil List by taxpayers has stayed unchanged for 20 years. It is now worth a quarter of what it was.

As a result of this reduction in value and the impact of rising costs, the royal household was forced to draw on £6.5m in reserve funding in 2009 to top up its Civil List payment.

Under the Civil List Act 1972, any annuity paid by the government that exceeds Civil List expenditure can be invested for future needs.

At the end of 2000, a reserve of £35.6m had been accumulated. The household is forecast to draw on £7.2m from the reserve in 2010.

'Proper scrutiny'

Graham Smith, of anti-monarchy campaign group Republic, said the report showed royal spending was "out of control".

"Clearly we need to see an end to once-a-decade accounting and budgeting, it has given the palace too much scope to keep increasing its spending without proper scrutiny," he said.

He also asked how the household could justify paying senior officials more than the prime minister.

"It's time we stripped away the pomp and extravagance, it's time we paid for just one modest residence, gave the Queen a salary of around £140,000 a year and told the rest of the family to go out and earn their own living," he said.