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The Queen of England faces a pay freeze

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The Queen of England faces budget cuts. (AFP)

The Queen of England may be forced to scrimp on repairs to her palaces and lavish public appearances under a recently passed British law expected to reduce her income over the next several years.

"The squeeze on the monarch's income is likely to delay a backlog of repairs to royal palaces," the Daily Telegraph's Matthew Holehouse reported Monday. "There will be no extra money from the taxpayer to pay for the court of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are rapidly emerging as global stars." (Queen Elizabeth's son, Charles, Prince of Wales, will continue to kick in to pay the salaries for staff for Prince William and his new bride, the Sunday Times, however, reported.)

Under the new legislation, which passed into law six weeks ago, England will employ a new formula for calculating the Queen's taxpayer-funded allowance, as Americans might put it. "Under the new arrangement, the Queen receives 15 percent of the profits made over two years from the Crown Estate, whose portfolio includes Regent Street, Windsor Great Park and more than half the country's shoreline," Holehouse notes.

Last year, thanks to general stagnation in the UK economy, the old calculation netted royal revenues of around £32.1m--down more than half from the £77.3m high-water mark that the Crown Estate enjoyed during the boom years of 1991-92.

The decline in royal income has prompted rare muttering from the royal bean-counters. "Sir Alan Reid, keeper of the privy purse, warned last summer that it would be 'very difficult for overall expenditure to fall much further without impacting on the Royal Household's activities in support of the Queen and the long-term health of the estate,'" Holehouse reported.

But in characteristic fashion, the royals themselves seem to be keeping a collective stiff upper lip about the gloomy forecasts--and exploring options for diversifying their revenue streams. "Buckingham Palace is likely to boost its efforts to raise money from commercial sources, or to cut back on public appearances by the royal family," Holehouse wrote. It's unlikely, in all events, that the Queen and her immediate circle of relations will pursue the revenue-netting strategies that have won no small amount of notoriety for the commoners who have lately strayed into the Royal Family's orbit--reality TV contracts, fashion merchandising endorsements, and the like.

Instead, as Holehouse notes, tradition will once again trump the passing travails of the royals: "The sums the Queen will receive will depend on the Crown Estate's trading performance."

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