Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is to receive an 8-percent “pay rise” next year, worth nearly 7.7 million U.S. dollars, the office of the royal household announced Tuesday.
The rise, equating to almost 150,000 U.S. dollars a week, comes after profits from the Crown estates rose by more than 30 million U.S. dollars.
The taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant, which pays for costs such as royal household salaries, official travel, and the upkeep of royal palaces, is expected to be 105 million U.S. dollars next year.
Royal aides supported the cost of the Queen’s annual grant saying it cost each person in Britain just 65 pence (0.83 U.S. cents) a year, the same price as a postage stamp.
But anti-monarchists claimed that the real cost of funding the British royal family totaled more than 440 million U.S. dollars a year. The campaign group Republic said that same amount would be enough to pay the salaries of thousands of school teachers or firefighters.
Republic’s CEO Graham Smith, described the grant as a massive bill for British taxpayers to support the privileged lifestyles of the Royal family.
The British monarch receives public funds linked to profits made from the Crown estate which manages a vast real estate portfolio across Britain.
The Queen’s official treasurer, Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said: “The Sovereign Grant last year equated to 0.65 pence per person, per annum, in the United Kingdom. Consider that against what the Queen does and represents for this country; I believe it represents excellent value for money.”
Officials say that the Queen’s main London residence, Buckingham Palace, requires extensive refurbishment, which is expected to cost more than 470 million U.S. dollars. The percentage of the Crown Estate profits given to the Queen is to increase to 25 percent for the next 10 years to help cover the cost of the work at the palace, one of London’s best known tourist attractions.
But Smith said: “Palace renovations should be paid for through opening up to tourists all year round. The grant has risen 167 percent since 2012. There simply isn’t any good reason for this increase.”
“It’s time the government took over the running of the palace finances and handed the management of the buildings to an independent body. The grant should be replaced with a simple annual budget, just like any other public authority.” (1 British pound = 1.28 U.S. dollars) (XinHuaNet)