The British government said Friday that it will boost its funding commitment to the royal family in an effort to pay for what it says are essential repairs to Buckingham Palace.
Britain's Crown Estate, which controls the country's biggest and most important assets, including property owned by Queen Elizabeth, returns a portion of its annual profits to the royal family in the form of a 'Sovereign Grant' that's paid via the U.K. Treasury department. The payment will be increased to 25% (from 15%) for the next 10 years, the government said, and will cost the taxpayer £369 million ($456 million).
"We must ensure that the special architectural and historic nature of some of our greatest buildings are protected for future generations, therefore it is only right we ensure Buckingham Palace is fit for purpose," said David Gauke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury. "These urgent works have been properly costed and will ensure the palace can continue its centuries-long tradition of being the working house of our Monarch. We will ensure every penny spent achieves the greatest value for money."
Lawmakers will need to approve the arrangement in a parliamentary vote.
In the country's complex agreement with the royal family, the queen continues to own and control her own personal estate, which includes the Balmoral castle in Scotland and the Sandringham estate in Norfolk. The Crown Estate, while controlled by the government, is not owned by the taxpayer but managed by a board known as The Crown Estate Commissioners.
In 1992, Windsor Castle, which many consider the queen's preferred residence, was devastated by a fire which raged for more than nine hours and required more than five years of restoration work. The government said a similar incident at Buckingham Palace "could cost up to £250 million for a single wing."
The area where the current palace stands traces its roots back to King James 1 in the early 1600s, but it wasn't transformed into "The Queen's House" until around 1761, when it was acquired by King George III from the Dukes of Buckingham in 1761.