Royals: British lawmakers grapple with majestic costs

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The monarch business is not what it was, as the latest news from Britain confirms. These days bumptious commoners in a parliamentary committee are emboldened to make dreadful comments about the state of the royal finances.

Last Tuesday, these blighters took the queen to task in a report for overspending. The report said Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, palaces she occupies but the nation owns, have been allowed to crumble into disrepair.

While they change the guard routinely at Buckingham Palace, they haven’t changed the boiler in 60 years and buckets are used to catch leaks from the roof in a room containing priceless artworks. Yet the royal family spent $74.5 million in 2012-13, $3.8 million over budget. It’s apparently a case of too many courtiers, not enough good financial advisers. The rainy day reserve — not the buckets — has fallen to a mere $1.7 million.

The members of parliament want more cost savings, even suggesting more tourists be allowed into Buckingham Palace. Perhaps the frightful gum chewers in shorts will trip over the rain buckets. That would be rather jolly.

Queen Elizabeth, of course, is immensely wealthy in her own right and owns her own residences, including Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She received a “sovereign grant” of $51.5 million last year and that will go up this year, so in a sense she is on the dole. But whether you live in a council house or a palace, it is important to keep up the maintenance. Palaces can’t be allowed to go to the dogs, even if their lodgers keep corgis.

But the queen is not like anyone else living on public support. The royal family attracts millions of visitors to Britain and makes tons of money for the exchequer, giving excellent value to United Kingdom taxpayers. God save the queen from the bean counters.


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