Scots ‘could pay less for Royals’ under devo plans

SCOTLAND could cut its contribution to the British monarchy by more than £1 million if plans for further devolution get the go ahead, it has emerged.

The Duchess of Rothesay tries some ice cream during a visit to the Farm to Fork food and drink festival in St Andrew's Square in Edinburgh. Picture: PA

The Royal Family could expect an annual cut of between £1 million and £1.5m if profits from the Crown Estate in Scotland are retained by the Scottish Parliament rather than the UK Parliament in a year’s time.

The details emerged as royal accounts released yesterday showed the cost of travel increased by almost £1m during 2014-15 compared with the previous year but overall royal household expenditure remained the same.

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A royal aide said negotiations were continuing between Westminster and Holyrood over financing, and said Scotland would continue to make contributions to the British monarchy, even if the profits from crown assets were not returned south of the Border.

He said: “I think the proposal, although it’s not definite yet, is for the transfer of assets from 1 April 2016.

“So the Crown Estate assets under management, in UK terms, would drop at that point.”

He said any drop in funding from Scotland would not have any impact on the number of royal engagements in – or the monarchy’s relationship with – Scotland, where the Queen spends much of her summer in Balmoral.

The royal accounts showed that the largest travel cost was for an eight-day tour of the Middle East involving the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, which came to £446,159.

It was one of 63 trips made by royals costing £10,000 or more in the past financial year – up from 47 the previous year – and at a total cost of £5.1m to the taxpayer compared with £4.2m a year earlier.

Figures released by Buckingham Palace show the monarchy cost the taxpayer £35.7m for the second year running – the equivalent of 56p for each person in the country. Almost half the £35.7m annual sovereign grant – the system of finance given from the public purse to support the official duties of the monarchy – was spent on payroll costs.

Meanwhile property maintenance dipped from £13.3m last year to £11.7m this year, with a surplus of £2.2m being transferred to reserves to help meet the future cost of work on Buckingham Palace.

Major projects included stripping asbestos from basement floor ducts in the east wing of Buckingham Palace, at a cost of £300,000, as well as the construction of an aircraft hangar for the Queen’s helicopter at RAF Odiham in Hampshire, costing £1.2m.

Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said: “It’s been a busy year for the Queen and the Royal Family and the royal household.

“We have contained expenditure, and that is down to strong financial planning and discipline.”

The accounts showed income was £13.3m – down £100,000 on the previous year – although there were no “big ticket” events during the last 12 months, the Palace said.