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Monday, November 28, 2022

British royalty criticized for increased spending

LONDON ( Associated Press) – The British monarchy’s public budget spending rose 17% over the past year to 102.4 million pounds sterling ($124 million), according to real accounts published on Thursday, much of which is needed to refurbish Buckingham Palace. Was.

The palace’s annual report on the Sovereign Wealth Fund showed royal spending increased by £14.9 million from a year ago.

Critics have described rising prices in Britain as excessive spending in times of crisis.

The 10-year project to modernize plumbing and electrical fixtures at Buckingham Palace accounted for a substantial portion of the property’s maintenance expenses, some £64m.

The cost of official tours has also gone up as the royals return to travel abroad after coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Last year’s most expensive royal visit was Prince William and his wife Catherine’s trip to the Caribbean in March, which cost an estimated £226,000 (274,973).

The visit was intended to promote Commonwealth ties, but was instead plagued by protests, reparations for slavery and photo ops being criticized as a return to colonialism.

The Sovereign Fund is the public money earmarked for Queen Elizabeth II’s official duties and other costs such as official travel, staffing for members of the Royal Family on duty, and the maintenance of inhabited palaces.

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The amount of the fund – £86.3 million in 2021-22 – is based on a ratio of earnings to the Crown Estate, a large collection of estates in the UK. This amount is equivalent to 1.29 pounds per person in the country.

British royalty has other sources of income, including the costs paid by tourists visiting the royal palaces.

The Daily Mirror tabloid questioned the royals’ spending on its front page, with the headline: “100 million for the royals? Record money for the firm as the country feels the pressure.” Anti-monarchical group Republic said the spending was excessive .

“As always, while the rest of us grapple with life crises and ongoing cuts to public services, the royals are taking away hundreds of millions of pounds from taxpayers,” said group chief executive Graham Smith.

Palace officials said Prince Charles and the royal family are closely monitoring the rapidly rising cost of living and are “extremely aware” of the crisis.

The annual financial report was released amid high scrutiny of Charles’ finances, with recent reports claiming the heir to the throne had received millions of pounds of cash in briefcases and suitcases from Qatar’s former prime minister.

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The Sunday Times newspaper reported that the prince received 3 million euros ($3.2 million) from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. Charles’ office said the donation was “immediately given” to the Prince’s charity and there was “reasonable governance”.

The newspaper did not say that anything illegal had been done, and Carlos’ office denied any wrongdoing.

Despite this, Charles’ spokesman said on Wednesday: “That was then and is now,” stressing that the prince will no longer be able to handle large cash donations.

An unnamed palace official who followed the palace’s policies told British media: “For more than half a decade, the situation, as it has evolved, has not happened and never will be again.”

London police are investigating a separate allegation that people linked to another of the prince’s charity, the Prince’s Foundation, offered prizes in return for donations and help to a Saudi billionaire acquire British citizenship. Clarence House has said that Carlos was unaware there was such a proposal.

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