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Rise in royal spending disappointing in times of austerity, says Labour peer

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent £2.4 million of taxpayers’ money on Frogmore Cottage, while the monarchy cost the taxpayer £67 million.

The royal family at Buckingham Palace (Victoria Jones/PA)
The royal family at Buckingham Palace (Victoria Jones/PA)

Former transport secretary Lord Adonis has criticised the rise in royal spending in times of austerity.

Royal accounts revealed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent £2.4 million of taxpayers’ money on renovating their new home Frogmore Cottage.

The monarchy cost the taxpayer £67 million during 2018-19 – an increase of almost £20 million on the previous financial year.

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with baby Archie (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Labour peer Lord Adonis told the Press Association: “It is disappointing to see royal spending rise so sharply when school budgets are being cut and austerity remains the norm for most public services.

“I hugely admire the Queen, but the royal family should lead by example and they are not doing so in the case of their own state-funded spending.

“It is important to understand that the Crown Estate, which now funds the royal family under George Osborne’s controversial 2011 reform, is wholly government-owned, so the big increase in royal spending would otherwise go to public services like education.”

Campaigners have called for a parliamentary inquiry to be launched into spending on the monarchy.

Republic, which calls for an elected head of state, questioned why £2.4 million of taxpayers’ money had been “thrown” at Meghan and Harry’s Frogmore Cottage residence while public services were under financial pressure.

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(PA Graphics)

The property, close to Windsor Castle, underwent major work to turn five properties back into a single residence for the couple and their baby son Archie – with all fixtures and fittings paid for privately by the duke and duchess.

It is likely that they installed a luxury kitchen and bathroom, and it has reportedly been designed by Harry and Meghan with dining and entertaining in mind and with extra bedrooms to accommodate guests, such as the duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland.

Graham Smith, from Republic, said: “An MP spending taxpayers’ money on a private home would probably not be an MP for much longer.

“The general funds of the Treasury should not be spent on individual members of the royal family at all – even if we had all the money to spend on public services it should not be happening.

“The point about public services is it is particularly galling that they’re allowed to get away with this whilst public services need money.”

Mr Smith said Republic would be asking its supporters to write to MPs to urge them to launch an inquiry into the issue of spending on the royal family.

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(PA Graphics)

The annual royal accounts were released on Monday and, at a press briefing, Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, who is responsible for the monarchy’s accounts, gave details of the Sovereign Grant, the funding used to pay for the Queen’s official duties and areas such as royal travel, salaries and the upkeep of occupied royal palaces.

Sir Michael said of Frogmore Cottage: “The property had not been the subject of work for some years and had already been earmarked for renovation in line with our responsibility to maintain the condition of the occupied royal palaces estate.

“The Sovereign Grant covered the work undertaken to turn the building into the official residence and home of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their new family.

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(PA Graphics)

“The building was returned to a single residence and outdated infrastructure was replaced to guarantee the long-term future of the property.

“Substantially all fixtures and fittings were paid for by their Royal Highnesses.”

The rise of almost £20 million to £67 million during 2018-19 was due to work updating the decades-old services at Buckingham Palace and maintaining the occupied royal palaces.

The Core Sovereign Grant, which helps fund the work of the Queen and her household and pays for other activities such as official royal travel, increased by £3.6 million to £49.3 million.

The total Sovereign Grant for 2018-19 was £82.2 million, made up of a core grant of £49.3 million and an extra £32.9 million to help pay for the 10-year, £369 million refurbishment project at Buckingham Palace.

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