Members of the public admire Buckingham Palace. Photo Getty Images
British members of parliament have criticised Queen
Elizabeth's Royal household for blowing its annual budget
while neglecting repairs at Buckingham Palace, which two
lawmakers suggested was falling apart.
The palace, which is over 300 years old, has not had its
electrical wiring renewed since 1949, needs asbestos removing
and has 60-year old boilers, parliament's Public Accounts
Committee said in a report.
The report included a transcript of exchanges between MPs and
a royal household official over the upkeep of the palace,
which is the monarch's London home.
"So work is being carried on while they are living in
crumbling surroundings?" opposition Labour MP Austin Mitchell
asked Sir Alan Reid, keeper of the privy purse and treasurer
to the queen.
"Clearly the buildings are not actually falling down," Reid
"The wall as you walk in through the main gates of Buckingham
Palace was," a second MP, Conservative Richard Bacon,
interjected. "I remember walking under it and it being
explained to us that the stone ... was dropping on people,
although I don't think anyone was actually hit."
The queen and royal family command widespread respect and
affection in Britain, but their spending has not escaped
scrutiny as the country has tightened its belt since the
global financial crisis of 2008.
The Royal Household's latest accounts showed it had exceeded
its 2012-13 budget of 31 million pounds ($51.38 million) by
2.3 million pounds, the report said. To plug the gap, it had
to dip into a reserve fund.
The committee urged both the Royal Household and the
Treasury, the government ministry that monitors and approves
its financial plans, to increase cost-saving efforts.
"The Household needs to get better at planning and managing
its budgets for the longer term - and the Treasury should be
more actively involved in reviewing what the Household is
doing," said Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee.
The report also noted the slow progress of repairs on the
Royal Mausoleum near Windsor Castle, west of London, which
houses the tombs of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince
Albert, even though it was identified as a priority in 2009.
In a 2013 submission to the National Audit Office the Royal
Household said it was "trying to dry it out a bit, but it's
not a high priority," referring to the mausoleum.
"The Household must get a much firmer grip on how it plans to
address its maintenance backlog," Hodge said in the report.
In a relaxation of the squeeze on financing, the Sovereign
Grant, the annual funding for the Royal Household, is set to
rise from 31 million pounds to 36.1 million in 2013-14 and to
37.9 million the following year.