Queen Elizabeth's Finances Down $45 Million Due to COVID-19 as Palace Visitor Numbers Are Decimated

The Queen's finance staff is having to find millions of extra savings because of a shortfall in likely income over the next three years

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool /Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth and her staff are counting the cost of COVID-19.

The amount of money the royal accountants can expect to receive from visitors and other special events at the palaces is contributing to a shortfall of $44 million over the next few years.

The estimate comes in the latest report of the royal finances – also known as the Sovereign Grant, which compromises the funds given to the royal family to pay for the official duties of the Queen, 94, her family and maintenance of occupied royal residences.

The forecast of the shortfall in funding was made by Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, at a Buckingham Palace briefing on Thursday, who said the fund paying for the ten year program of essential works at the palace will be down by $25 million (£20 million) and they will see a further $20 million (£15 million) fall in receipts from the Royal Collection.

“If we look at our core Sovereign Grant and the income that we generate to supplement the Sovereign Grant, both of which support the official duties of The Queen, we are expecting a significant reduction in income from the Royal Collection Trust due to the impact Covid-19 has had on their visitor numbers," he said. "This forms the bulk of a projected shortfall in income, which we estimate will be around £5 million per year for the next three years.”

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The Queen watches last year's parade. Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage

The Sovereign Grant is based on 15 percent of the surplus profits of the Crown Estate income and has been set at $63 million. But since 2017, it has been agreed that the royals will need 25 percent of that surplus to pay for a 10-year program of repairs and modernizations, costing $470 million.

But with the Crown Estate reporting a lower-than-expected projected income and visitors being hit by the coronavirus, the royal staff foresee a reduction over the next three years and will have to find savings elsewhere to keep up the program of refurbishments set to last for seven more years.

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It also includes income that would be lost by not undertaking functions that the Royal Household would charge for. Officials did say that there would be a reduction in some activities, like tours, which will “help to offset some of the shortfalls,” a senior royal source added.

“We are instructing our teams to look at ways they can be more efficient in supporting the royal family in delivering their programs,” the source said.

There is a recruitment freeze and a pay freeze underway.

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The Queen continues to be “highly active as Head of State and Head of Nation,” Sir Michael said.

She and other members of the Royal Family carried out almost 3,200 official engagements across the U.K. and overseas last year. Meanwhile, the palace has some way to go on gender parity, officials admitted.

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The palace’s gender pay gap for the last two years has remained at under eight percent, which is better than the U.K. average, but not at parity. There are 29 men (up from 26) and 10 women (down from 12) in senior roles and 261 men and 280 women in lower grades.

A senior royal source pointed out with far fewer senior people a couple of moves “can make a big impact” to the numbers. The source added that over the year we have three women on non-executives and other senior women on committees.

“There is progress there, but we are not at parity yet,” a senior source adds.

“We will be working through what that would mean in terms of our general diversity and inclusion work and we lay out quite a lot in the report about the work that’s going on here in terms of making as many opportunities available to as many staff as possible.”

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