Queen cost British taxpayers less in the past year

Britain may have enjoyed a lavish royal wedding but Queen Elizabeth II must put up with shabby furnishings and leaking palace roofs in austerity Britain, according to the annual report on royal finances released on Monday.

Official accounts for the royal family show that British taxpayers spent 32.1 million pounds ($51.7 million) supporting the monarchy in the past year, 5.3 percent less than the year before. Much of the saving came from reducing the bill for maintenance of royal residences, from 15.4 million pounds to 11.9 million pounds.

"The queen is very keen that the Royal Household should continue to reduce its expenditure in line with public expenditure reductions," said the royal family's treasurer, Sir Alan Reid.

The report says the cost constraints mean maintenance will be reduced to "urgent reactive repairs"; plans to refurbish state rooms at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle will be scrapped.

The queen did manage to repair the roof of the ballroom at Buckingham Palace last year for a total cost of 800,000 pounds, and repair some rooms at Windsor Castle.

The accounts are for the year ending March 2011 and do not cover the costs of Prince William's April 29 wedding to Kate Middleton. Official figures for the royal wedding have not been released, but the British taxpayer paid the security costs while the royal family and Middleton's parents paid for the costs of the actual wedding, including the flowers, the carriage procession, the dresses, the service and the reception.

According to the accounts, the queen held seven garden parties at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland, for a total of 41,000 people, up from 36,500 the year before.

Last week the government announced that the monarch must join her subjects in austerity measures aimed at reducing Britain's deficit. Funding to the royal family will fall by about 9 percent by 2015. Under the government's plan, the queen's household would receive an estimated 34 million pounds ($55 million) in the financial year 2013-2014. The figure is roughly the same as now, and in effect would be a cut in her funding once inflation is taken into account.

Under new rules, the amount the queen receives from taxpayers to meet the costs of salaries, palaces, travel and functions would more closely reflect the state of the public finances. Britain's government is cutting 81 billion pounds ($130 billion) from public expenditure over the next four years under a strict program to reduce the country's budget deficit.

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