British royal family set for budget haircut

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British lawmakers in the lower house on Thursday approved historic proposals to alter the way in which the country's royal family is funded, potentially cutting their budget by nine percent.

Under finance minister George Osborne's plans, the family will draw its income from a new Sovereign Grant from 2013-14 rather than the separate Civil List and grants-in-aid packages which currently fund official royal business.

The Sovereign Grant will be funded by a cut of the profits from the Crown Estate, property owned by the sovereign. At present, profits from the Estate go to the government.

Although the family is expected to receive around £1 million more funding in 2015 than this year, it amounts to a cut when inflation is taken into account.

"We will see how the Crown Estate performs but the current estimate is 2014-15...the monarch will receive around £35 million ($56.2 million, 38.7 million euros)," Osborne told parliament on Thursday.

"In cash terms that is broadly in line with what they had spent in recent years, in real terms it is around a nine percent cut over the parliament."

The queen is expected to receive a grant equivalent to 15 percent of the Crown Estate profits, with the figure to be reviewed every seven years.

"This is a big and historic extension to parliamentary scrutiny and I would like to thank Her Majesty for opening up the books," added Osborne.

The grant will be based on the vast property portfolio's performance two years earlier.

The royal property empire ranges from palaces to buildings on London's Regent Street and Ascot racecourse in south England.

The legislation will shortly be sent to the upper House of Lords for reading.

© 2011 AFP

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