No to Queen’s bid for heating funds
LONDON – A government fund intended to provide subsidised heating to low-income Britons got some interest from an unexpected source: Queen Elizabeth II, who wanted help paying the bills at Buckingham Palace.
The official response, according to documents unearthed by The Independent newspaper, was that the handout might prove to be an embarrassment if word got out. The paper quotes an unnamed functionary as gently reminding the royal household that the money was meant for local authorities, housing associations, and the like.
“I also feel a bit uneasy about the probable adverse Press coverage if the Palace were given a grant at the expense of say a hospital,” the paper quoted the official as saying. “Sorry this doesn’t sound more positive.”
Looking for way
The newspaper said royal aides were looking for a way to pay the Queen’s spiralling utility bills, which had risen by 50 per cent to more than one million pounds (BDS$2.16 million) in 2004. A letter written that year and addressed to Britain’s culture department asked whether the Queen could get a community energy grant to upgrade the heating systems at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, the monarch’s favourite weekend residence.
Officials were receptive to the idea, but eventually decided against it, the paper said yesterday, citing documents obtained under Britain’s Freedom of Information Act.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman confirmed that royal officials had explored the possibility of getting money under the programme, saying it was part of an attempt to reduce both its burden on the taxpayer and improve the palaces’ energy efficiency. She claimed the royal household was not initially aware that the money had been earmarked for low-income Britons.
She spoke anonymously in line with royal policy.
The Queen’s finances have been controversial in the past, with occasional debates about whether Britain’s head of state – whose role is almost exclusively ceremonial – costs too much. The queen has royal residences across Britain, including Balmoral Castle in Scotland and Sandringham House in eastern England.
Other residences, such as the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and St James’ Palace in London, are used as offices or for functions. (AP)