Yesterday, The Public Accounts Committee said that the Royal Household was “not looking after nationally important heritage properties adequately”, saying that, in March 2012, 39% of the royal estate was “below what the household deemed to be an acceptable condition”. A few years ago, this blogger was invited to a dinner party in Buckingham Palace by two ‘young’ Royals and was shocked by the fact that the toilet was not only broken but there was no toilet paper. When I told this to a friend of mine that was at that same party, she said: ‘That is why they (the Royals) call this, the Marriott Hotel’.
Later on, at Elton John’s White Ball in Windsor, I asked a very bored Sarah Ferguson about this and she confirmed that, at times, it was very difficult to find clean towels at Buckingham Palace. I must confess that at the time, I thought it was another eccentric and very British way to signify ‘class’. After all, England is the land where women seem to be posher the muddier the boots are and girls are considered classier the meaner they get.
However, the issue seems to be quite serious and is related to a lack of adequate management of the Royal Household. In fact, according to the Report, there was “huge scope for savings” on the annual £31m of taxpayer funds given to the Queen to spend on official duties. But a spokeswoman for the royals said spending was now more transparent.
The Sovereign Grant replaced the old Civil List and grants-in-aid system in 2012 and is used to fund royal duties, pay staff and maintain palaces. The report said Buckingham Palace had overspent on the grant by £2.3m last year and had to dip into its reserves, “leaving a balance of only £1m at 31 March 2013 – a historically low level of contingency”
“I don’t think we’d accuse anybody of profligacy but, what we are saying, is that we don’t think the Queen is served well either by the Royal Household or, indeed, by the Treasury’. To have Buckingham Palace referred by the Marriott by the Royals themselves is not very flattering, if you ask me. Just a thought.