Perhaps Queen Elizabeth II could learn something from her thrifty granddaughter-in-law Kate Middleton. The 87-year-old monarch has been overspending the royal family's famous fortune, according to a report published by the Commons Public Accounts Committee on Monday, Jan. 27.
Following her courtiers' advice, Her Majesty the Queen's reserve fund has fallen from £35 million ($58 million) in 2001 to just £1 million ($1.6 million) in 2014. The report states the royal family is "spending above their means and dipping into the reserves...the balance now stands at an all-time low."
The report also reveals that a number of palaces are in "dangerous or deteriorating" conditions. Forty percent of them, in fact, are "below acceptable standards." It's not exactly new information, as Queen Elizabeth II knows that there's an $82 million backlog in repairs due to tightened government funding.
Taxpayers fund the royal palaces in Britain, comprised of more than 300 buildings. In 2013, the public spent about £31 million ($51 million) renovating and operating the facilities. The report urged the treasury to "get a grip" and help the royal family to prevent "further damage and deterioration."
According to the report, royal staff members have been forced to catch rain in buckets to protect art and antiquities in some locations. Queen Elizabeth II's "antiquated" boilers are more than 60 years old.
"The Queen has not been served well by the Household and by the Treasury," said Margaret Hodge, the labor chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. "We got the impression that they just haven't tried to make greater savings. Here we are, we're all in it together, but they are failing to eek better value for the Queen. They are dipping into their reserves in a way that just isn't sensible."
"If you look at the Tower of London and its visitor numbers it makes you think that there's potential there. Have they done their darndest to maximize value for money?" Hodge wondered.
The royal household has pledged to introduce a 10-year maintenance plan to resolve the backlog. It has also pledged to increase the size of its reserve fund. Married to Prince Philip since 1947, Queen Elizabeth II has four children and eight grandchildren—including Prince William and Prince Harry.