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Royals to get more taxpayers' cash as Crown income rises

By Tony Jones

The monarchy is expected to receive a financial boost from the taxpayer after the Crown Estate, whose profits fund the Queen's official work, recorded a large jump in income.

On the day Buckingham Palace accounts were released showing the Queen's official net expenditure increased by £2m to almost £42m, figures from the Crown Estate revealed an 8%, or £24.7m, rise in profits to £328.8m in 2016/17.

Under the Sovereign Grant funding formula, which pays for costs such as royal household salaries, official travel and the upkeep of royal palaces, the Queen receives a percentage of the Crown Estate profits for her official expenditure, but from funds two years in arrears.

In the 2018/19 financial year, the grant is expected to be £82.2m, 25% of the Crown Estate's £328.8m profits paid to the Treasury, an increase of 8% or just over £6m.

The Queen and the Royal Family's official travel cost the taxpayer £4.5m during 2016/17, up £500,000, but a royal source has revealed the Queen keeps an eye on travel costs.

Not only does the Queen "sign off" all royal travel, the source suggested she comments to her family if the visit is too expensive. It said: "She might have a word in the ear of the principle."

Clarence House has also released its annual accounts, which showed the Prince of Wales' annual income from his hereditary estate the Duchy of Cornwall has increased by 1.2% to £20.7m.

Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said: "When you look at these accounts the bottom line is the Sovereign Grant last year equated to 65 pence per person, per annum, in the United Kingdom, that's the price of a first class stamp. Consider that against what the Queen does and represents for this country, I believe it represents excellent value for money."

The accounts reveal the most expensive trip was a £154,000 visit by the Prince of Wales to Romania and, with the Duchess of Cornwall, Italy and Austria, their first trip in the official Government jet used by David Cameron and dubbed "Cam Force One".

The price for using the converted RAF A330 Voyager refuelling aircraft is the top figure of a number of estimates, but a source said: "We are also satisfied, as I believe Government are, that the use of Voyager will prove to be value for money against the cost of commercial charters, particularly for these longer overseas visits."

The accounts also show the Duke of Edinburgh made a £18,690 trip on the royal train to attend a dinner in Plymouth last November, marking two important Royal Marines anniversaries, travelling from Taplow, Buckinghamshire, and returning to Windsor.

To help pay for a £369m refurbishment of Buckingham Palace, the percentage of the Crown Estate profits paid to the Sovereign Grant will increase from 15% to 25% between 2017 to 2027.

Work to renovate other royal residences continues and the royal accounts reveal £1.2m had been spent last year replacing the doors of Windsor Castle's orangery.

The Sovereign Grant for 2016/17 was £42.8m, up £2.7m on the previous financial year. Property maintenance had risen £1.5m to £17.8m.

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