Buckingham Palace to Open When Queen is Absent?
Throughout the year, more than 50,000 guests are invited to Buckingham Palace for various Royal events, and about half a million people pay for guided tours. Compared to the Tower of London, which boasts over 2 million visitors each year, Buckingham Palace could easily accommodate more visitors. However, paying tours only run for 56 days over August and September, as well as a few “selected dates” between December and February.
A report has been released by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about Royal spending, and although the report suggests that the Royal Household does not manage its finances exceedingly well, MPs have come up with an idea that could boost Royal revenue: opening up Buckingham Palace for more paying tours when the Queen is not in residence.
According to PAC Chairwoman and Labour MP Margaret Hodge, the Royal Household are currently “not balancing the books, and they’re dipping into their reserves”. The PAC report also found “nationally important heritage properties” were not being maintained just as well as they should be and that the repairs needed to be addresses as soon as possible.
“The Queen can attract income – visitors to Buckingham Palace,” explained Mrs Hodge. Guided tours have been running since 1993, and by expanding by making more tours available for tourists, any deficit in the Royal Household’s finances could be reduced dramatically.
The Royal Estate includes around 360 buildings, including Windsor Castle, St James’ Palace and Clarence House, and many of these buildings need some sort of repair work done on them. Senior royal aides have pointed out that repairs have built up due to patch-repairing because Royal funding has been reduced by around 6% over the past 20 years.
It is thought that around 40% of the Royal Estate are not in great condition, with some of the damage considered being dangerous. But Mrs Hodge says that repairs to these royal properties are definitely possible if the annual number of paying – and donating – guests is given a boost.
Another suggestion by MPs to make a little bit more money is to rent out Buckingham Palace for certain events. St James’ and Kensington Palaces are rented out occasionally already, and last year JP Morgan, an US investment banker and owner of one of the largest financial institutions in the UK, rented out Buckingham Palace. This was to host a high-society private dinner, with guests like Prince Andrew, Tony Blair, and Kofi Annan, the former UN chief. These events raised around £11.6 million, which was praised by PAC, and led to the latest money-making suggestions for the Royal Household.
People from all over the world travel to London, many of whom stand outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, to marvel at the Queen’s London residence, because they have come at the wrong time of the year for a guided tour. Although the tour tickets need to be booked in advance, there would be more of a time frame for guests to visit the Palace, making it more convenient for tourists, as well. As silly as it may sound, for the Royal Household to need money-making schemes, this one has great potential to work.