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The Royal Household is often portrayed as a somewhat miserly employer, paying low salaries to junior staff in the knowledge that the prestige of the job and the prospect of free accommodation will tempt plenty of applicants.

But the National Audit Office report into royal spending suggests otherwise.

In 2012-13 the Royal Household employed 436 staff, with a total wage bill of £19.5m, making the average salary £44,724. Five years ago the average was £42,790.

In contrast, the national average wage currently stands at £26,500.

The NAO prepared its report into the way the Sovereign Grant is spent for the Commons Public Accounts Committee, which will question royal staff including the Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Alan Reid, next week.


In April 2012 the Sovereign Grant replaced the old way of funding the Royal family through the Civil List and various Government grants for travel and buildings.

The Sovereign Grant represents 15 per cent of the net surplus income of the Crown Estate, land holdings that generate money for the Treasury.

In 2012-13 the Sovereign Grant was £31m, but this is expected to rise to £37.9m in 2014-15.

Nevertheless, the Royal Household regards 39 per cent of the 360 buildings making up the occupied Royal Palaces, which include Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court, as being below their “target condition” because of a backlog of repairs.

The Treasury has ultimate responsibility for the palaces, which are held in trust for the nation, but the day-to-day running of them is undertaken by the Royal Household.

The NAO report gives the Royal Household credit for reducing expenditure in real terms.

It says that between 1991 and 1992 the Household reduced net expenditure from the equivalent of £72.6 million at today’s prices to £32.9m, a 55 per cent reduction in real terms.

It did so partly by cutting costs but also by increasing its income by doubling the number of properties it rents out and increasing the amount it charges the Royal Collection to open the palaces to the public.

In 2012-13 the Household generated £11.6m compared with £7.5m in 2007-08.

The Queen also has a private income from the Duchy of Lancaster and from the Balmoral and Sandringham estates, which are her personal property.

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