LONDON - Britain's royal household needs to get a little more entrepreneurial, eye possible staff cuts and replace an ancient palace boiler, lawmakers say in a new report.
The report Tuesday by lawmakers into
the finances of Queen Elizabeth II has exposed crumbling palaces and depleted
coffers and discovered that a royal reserve fund for emergencies is down to its
last million pounds ($1.6 million).
The legislators urged royal officials
to adopt a more commercial approach and suggested opening up Buckingham Palace
to visitors more often.
It said at least 39 percent of royal
buildings -- and probably more -- were in an unacceptable state, "with some
properties in a dangerous or deteriorating condition."
"The boiler in Buckingham Palace
is 60 years old," committee chair Margaret Hodge told the BBC. "The
household must get a much firmer grip on how it plans to address its
In words that have become familiar to
Britons during five years of austerity, Hodge urged the royals "to do more
The report pointed out that the royal
household's staff has remained largely static at just over 430 people in the
last seven years, a period that has seen deep cuts to public spending and
thousands of civil service layoffs.
Hodge, a Labour Party lawmaker, said
Buckingham Palace was only open to the public 78 days a year, drawing half a
million visitors, and suggested that boosting visitor numbers could help raise
"We think a little bit of a more
commercial approach by those who are responsible for serving the queen would
serve her better in garnering more income," Hodge said.
The queen received 31 million pounds
($51 million) from taxpayers in 2012-2013, but Hodge said the monarch "has
not been served well by the household and by the Treasury," which is
responsible for overseeing royal costs.
The report said because of
overspending, the royal Reserve Fund had shrunk from 3.3 million pounds to 1
million pounds in 2012-2013, a historic low that raised fears "it could be
unable to cover its expenditure on any unforeseen events."
Buckingham Palace said in a statement
it had boosted its income by almost 5 million pounds between 2007 and 2013, and
"work on income generation continues." It said it was working to
carry out essential maintenance and had recently removed asbestos from the
basement of Buckingham Palace.