Money spent on Buckingham Palace's upkeep is well spent

An online petition to get the royals to pay for Buckingham Palace's £369 million refurbishment is said to be gathering pace.
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It has attracted more than 130,000 signatures.

The plea at first sight is superficially appealing.

A family with immense wealth gets a huge renovation paid for by the taxpayer, while many people across London struggle to afford housing.

But this is a misleading way of presenting the situation.

Buckingham Palace not only lays claim to being perhaps Britain’s most famous building, it is a palace of global importance.

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Recognised around the world, it is the focal point for the millions of tourists who visit the United Kingdom every year.

It is not merely the plaything of a privileged family, but rather a building that is held in trust for the nation.

Buckingham Palace is the host venue for banquets held in honour of international leaders, from American presidents down, who covet a royal invitation.

A building of such size and architectural significance is costly to maintain. This particular set of works will last a decade, but have an influence on the structure that lasts decades.

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In one sense £369 million is a vast amount of money, and losing such a sum would make inroads into the wealth even of the Crown. But it is money that the UK as a whole can afford.

The Treasury subvention to Northern Ireland alone runs at around £20 million a day, and that is for a Province that only makes up around 3% of the UK population.

The Queen, who is said to be careful with money, is sensitive to public feeling on finances. In 1992 she was prepared to pay 70% of the costs of repairing Windsor Castle after its fire.

But the money to do that did not grow on trees – Her Majesty had to open Buckingham Palace to the public to help fund the restoration. 
The fact that the palace is now a firm tourist attraction, bringing money and kudos to Britain, is another reason why funding its refurbishment is money well spent.