No austerity cuts for Dutch royals

Mon, Jul 23, 2012, 01:00

QUEEN BEATRIX of the Netherlands says she sees “no reason” to reduce the allowance of €830,000 she receives from the state every year – despite new research showing the Dutch royals have overtaken the British monarchy as the most expensive royal family in western Europe.

The queen’s refusal to accept less from the hard-pressed public purse comes just two days after Spain’s King Juan Carlos said he would accept a 7 per cent cut in his salary in line with reductions imposed on public sector workers.

The annual report on the cost of European heads of state, by Prof Herman Matthijs of Ghent University, Belgium, shows the cost to the taxpayer of the Dutch royal family is €39.4 million. This includes €18 million in “personal costs” and the queen’s working allowance of €830,000, but does not include the multimillion-euro security cost.

The bill for subsidising Queen Beatrix (74) and her children, including heir to the throne Crown-Prince Willem Alexander, his wife Princess Maxima and their three young daughters, Amalia, Alexia and Ariane, is roughly four times that for keeping the Spanish royal family, which costs between €9 million and €10 million.

While King Juan Carlos’s son and heir, Prince Felipe, will also take a pay cut of 7 per cent, in the Netherlands Crown-Prince Willem Alexander will follow his mother’s lead and draw the same allowance as last year, although the exact breakdown is not specified.

The report also points out that the financial burden on the Dutch taxpayer, already facing cuts in public services and salaries of €13 billion next year, is proportionately higher – because the population of the Netherlands is only one-third the size of Spain’s and a quarter the size of Britain’s.

By contrast, the cost of Queen Elizabeth and the British royals – who have topped the survey for the past five years – has been reduced as a result of “austerity measures” in the royal household, from €45.6 million to €38.2 million, a fall of some 16 per cent.

Prof Matthijs, whose report is based on civil lists, parliamentary reports and national accounts, praises the British monarchy as “one of the most open about its finances”. However he concedes that his assessments do not include the European royals’ incomes from private wealth.

In the Netherlands, although Queen Beatrix’s popularity is consistently high, she has been at odds with parliament, which voted earlier this year to remove her last remaining political power – the right to become involved in the formation of coalition governments.

Beatrix has also been at odds with right-wing Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders, who – weeks before the announcement by King Juan Carlos – called on the monarch and on politicians to take a pay cut of 20 per cent next year in order to “give a lead in difficult economic times.”

The Matthijs report found that the most expensive head of state is not a royal, but the French president, François Hollande. The annual cost of running the Elysée Palace is €112 million.