Buckingham Palace considers staff cuts and pay freeze amid lockdown as Queen's net worth falls by $20 million
As the coronavirus lockdown continues to eat away at the tourism industry in the United Kingdom, along with the rest of the world, even Buckingham Palace is being forced to implement an emergency protocol, given how the crisis might affect their long term financial future.
In an email sent to his staff and obtained by The Sun, the head of the royal household, Lord Chamberlain Earl William Peel, said how royal revenue from tourism would be down by a third over 2020. It is a tradition that the palace open its doors to the public when the queen goes to Balmoral for the summer, but in the present crisis, with the monarch self-isolating at Windsor Castle, the palace, along with Queen’s Galleries to Windsor Castle and the estates in London, will remain closed to the public.
“The crisis has already tested our resilience, adaptability, and preparedness in many ways and at all levels across the organization. It has also had a significant impact on the activities of the whole Royal Household,” he said in the email. “Although the U.K. appears to be over the peak of infections, it remains unclear when measures such as social distancing will come to an end. We must, therefore, assume it could still be many weeks, if not months before we are able to return to business as usual.”
The revenue that tourism generates directly impacts the Sovereign Grant - an income pool that combines public and private sources - that the Queen can tap into to pay for the staffing costs of senior royals, property maintenance, and renovation, and other costs associated with royal engagements. According to a report from ITV, last year the amount given by the grant was a little over $100 million. Never has the grant been strapped for cash as the amount has only increased with expanded revenues.
As a result, to cope with the drastic changes, the palace has already implemented a recruitment freeze and a pause in any new construction. And now, there are reports that royal staff members may incur pay freeze or loss of jobs. “Many staff are loyal and will do what they do for a pay cut. But the email went down like a lead balloon,” an aide said.
Buckingham Palace has made it clear in a statement that such discussions had only just begun. “The whole country is very likely to be impacted financially by coronavirus and the Royal Household is no exception,” the letter read. “However, the time to address this will be when the full impact of the situation is clearer.”
The report came after the Sunday Times released its annual Rich List, according to which, Queen Elizabeth II's net worth has decreased by $20 million since last year. Her current net worth is estimated at $428 million. The significant dip in her fortune is mainly attributed to upkeep expenses on her many properties and the crash of the stock market which affected her holdings in British blue-chip companies. On the upside, her stamp collection is still worth over $100 million.