Bad news, royal watchers: Queen Elizabeth's houses are practically falling down around her ears, and her emergency reserve is down to a mere mil. This is just like the time I had to save up to have my living room rug professionally cleaned!
According to the AP, that's the conclusion reached by the House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee. (The NERVE of those non-aristos!) They say at least 39 percent of royal buildings are not in "acceptable condition," with "some properties in a dangerous or deteriorating condition." For instance:
"The boiler in Buckingham Palace is 60 years old," committee chair Margaret Hodge told the BBC. "The household must get a much firmer grip on how it plans to address its maintenance backlog."
Now, as anyone who's watched an episode of Downton knows, it takes deep-ass pockets to maintain one mouldering ancestral pile, much less an entire portfolio. And to be fair to the Queen and her spending habits, the woman did buy the material for her wedding dress with rationing coupons.
But the queen and her household got £31 million in "Sovereign Grant" money in 2012-2013 (which comes from the Crown Estates, i.e. holdings like farmland), meant for official duties like travel and home maintenance. They spent that, plus £11.6 million in revenue from sources like visits to the palace, AND her emergency reserve withered from £3.3 million to £1 million. That means they'll be cutting it awfully close if, say, the pipes burst somewhere in Windsor Castle.
Perhaps part of the problem? The queen's household staff hovers around 430 people. Hodge urged the Queen's advisors to "to do more with less," as well as—brace yourselves—think more in terms of TRADE:
"We think a little bit of a more commercial approach by those who are responsible for serving the queen would serve her better in garnering more income," Hodge said.
For us commoners, it's clear what that would mean: reality TV. In the hopes of forestalling that indignity, we have a few suggestions for moneymaking enterprises:
- A Windsor-branded capsule collection for Barbour
- Start distributing shit made by the Duchy of Cornwall—in Anthropologie, complete with shocking markup
- Give the corgis their own Animal Planet franchise
- Two words: Antiques Roadshow
Of course, none of this really accounts for Queen Elizabeth's personal coffers, which are quite flush. So if the bathrooms in Buckingham Palace explode, she could cover the cost of cleaning up the sewage herself. But that would be SILLY.
Image via Getty