LONDON – British Queen Elizabeth II and her family face 35million pounds ($ 45million) hit by the coronavirus pandemic, in part due to a tourist shortage, the monarch’s chief financial officer said on Friday.
Releasing the Royal Household’s annual accounts, private wallet keeper Michael Stevens said the lack of income from visitors to the royal buildings would likely result in a general funding shortfall of £ 15million ($ 19million) on three years.
He said the impact of the pandemic is also likely to result in a shortfall of £ 20m ($ 25.4m) in a 10-year, £ 369m program to replace heat, Dilapidated plumbing and wiring at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s home in London. .
Officials said the palace’s aging infrastructure, which saw its last major upgrade after World War II, is at risk of breaking down if not replaced.
Stevens said the royal household would not ask for more money from the government but “would seek to manage the impact with our own efforts and efficiency.”
Buckingham Palace has already introduced a freeze on staff salaries and a halt on hiring.
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Accounts show the monarchy cost UK taxpayers £ 69.4million ($ 88.2million) for the year ending late March, an increase of 2.4million ($ 3.1million) compared to the previous year.
In a statement released by the palace, Stevens said the majority of the year under review took place before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Among a variety of engagements, the Queen hosted President Donald Trump on a state visit and led national commemorations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and for Armistice Day.
“While COVID-19 has temporarily changed the format of engagements and events, it has not changed the sense of continuity, comfort and recognition they provide,” Stevens said. “Her Majesty’s program, supported by her family, will continue to develop meaningful ways to lead the nation through this time.
Despite the money feuds involving Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan of Sussex, and despite Republicans’ anti-monarchy views, most Britons believe the Queen and the monarchy in general give good value for money, says the royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams.
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“The monarchy is an invaluable symbol of national unity,” said Fitzwilliams. “The benefit to Britain in using it to build soft power in overseas travel, charity work, Commonwealth leadership and tourism is enormous. It is worth keeping this in mind. mind when considering the cost of the monarchy. “
Accounts confirm Harry and Meghan paid an undisclosed sum to repay public funds for rent and renovations to their Frogmore Cottage home on the grounds of Windsor Castle, which remains their base in Britain even though they live now in California. The exact amount they paid will appear in next year’s accounts. The home’s only renovation costs were £ 2.4 million ($ 3.1 million).
Harry, 36, and former Meghan Markle, 39, tied the knot at Windsor Castle in May 2018. The couple announced earlier this year that they were stepping down from royal duties and moving to North America, citing this which they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British. media. They recently bought a house for over $ 14 million in Santa Barbara County.
Harry and Meghan signed a mega-contract this month to produce nature series, documentaries and children’s shows for the streaming service Netflix.
Contributing: The Associated Press; Maria Puente, USA TODAY
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