Queen hit by £18m hole in finances after shutting palaces to tourists because of virus lockdown


CORONAVIRUS has dealt the Queen a double blow — with an £18million loss of royal income and her engagements diary ripped up for the next two years.

Senior courtiers are preparing to withdraw her from public view until the end of the summer amid Covid-19 fears.

Coronavirus is set to blow an £18million black hole in The Queen’s finances
Buckingham Palace rakes in £12million per year for the Royal Family
Windsor Castle typically earns £25million a year

But they say the continuing uncertainty has forced them to scrap her diary of engagements right up until 2022, by which time she will be 96.

One said: “We just can’t make any plans as we don’t know what will happen. The virus has had a cataclysmic effect.”

An email to staff also reveals the extent to which royal finances are being battered by lockdown restrictions.

Royal palaces — including Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace — will be closed to tourists for months.

Last year tourism earned the ­royals more than £70million from ticket and souvenir sales.

The email from the Lord Chamberlain Earl Peel, head of the Royal Household, warned staff that income is expected to fall by a third this year, nearly £18million.

Earl Peel spelled out the dire ­situation to employees who now face a pay freeze and job cuts.

He said: “The crisis has already tested our resilience, adaptability and preparedness in many ways and at all levels across the organisation. It has also had a significant impact on the activities of the whole Royal Household.

“Although the UK appears to be over the peak of infections, it remains unclear when measures such as social distancing will come to an end.

“We must therefore assume it could still be many weeks, if not months, before we are able to return to business as usual.

“There are undoubtedly very difficult times ahead and we realise many of you will be concerned.”

Clarence House, the residence of Charles and Camilla, rakes in £132,000 per year
Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh brings in £5.6million per year for the Royal Family
The Royal Mews earns £1.6million per year

The Queen’s diary has to be planned up to two years in advance — juggling tours by her and senior royals as well as visits to Britain from foreign heads of state.

But because of the chaos and uncertainty caused by coronavirus all 26 investitures remaining this year have been cancelled. Medals for 120 recipients are expected to be sent by post instead.

The annual Diplomatic Reception where the Queen mingles with 500 envoys based in London is also under review.

A source said: “Even the staff Christmas party is in doubt.”

Royal palaces will be closed to tourists this summer with refunds for tickets already sold for Buckingham Palace State Rooms.

Many staff have been asked to work from home. They will not be furloughed but have been told they face recruitment and pay freezes.

The royals earn millions from the Crown Estates, landlord of many expensive London addresses and major shopping centres

But that income is expected to tumble as the economy takes a steep downturn. The Queen is personally worth around £350million.

The Sovereign Grant, paid to the royals annually by the taxpayer to fund official duties, was £82.4million last year. That included £33million for Buckingham Palace repairs.

The Queen’s Gallery in London, a popular location for tourists, earns £1.6million per year
The Queen’s Gallery in the Palace of Holyroodhouse rakes in £400k per year

In his email, the Lord Chamberlain said “property spend” would be reduced — a move that could affect those planned renovations.

He said: “The Royal Household, like most organisations, is not immune to the impact of the pandemic on our financial position.

“Many projects have been halted and all but essential expenditure has been suspended.

“A recruitment freeze has been implemented and no new posts will be appointed unless a very clear business case exists.

“This year’s annual pay review has also been paused.”

The Royal Household employs around 500 people but is currently operating on a skeleton staff in many areas.

A source said: “Many staff are loyal and will do what they do for a pay cut. But the email went down like a lead balloon.”

Royal finances expert David McClure aid: “Coronavirus is now hitting the Crown were it hurts most — in its pocket.

“As it battens down the hatches the Royal Household is clearly expecting a major financial storm.”

Buckingham Palace said: “The whole country is very likely to be impacted financially by coronavirus and the Royal Household is no exception.

“However, the time to address this will be when the full impact of the situation is clearer.”

The Queen pictured leaving Buckingham Palace in March to socially distance at Windsor Castle
The Queen took coronavirus precaution and wore gloves for an investitures ceremony on March 3

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