PM under pressure over Dutch royal costs

Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 01:00

JUST 10 days after being re-elected, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte was under pressure last night to reverse a decision not to make public a report by external auditors into the cost to the Dutch taxpayer of Queen Beatrix and the royal family.

Despite rising unemployment and declining economic growth, and a report earlier this year suggesting that the Dutch royals had overtaken the British monarchy as the most expensive in Europe, the queen said in July she saw “no reason” to reduce her allowance from the state.

The refusal to make the new report public, despite requests by the media under the Freedom of Information Act, has given rise to suggestions that the most recently published figures by Belgian academic Herman Matthijs putting the total cost at €39.4 million could be short of the mark.

Prof Matthijs, whose assessment was based on civil lists, parliamentary reports and national accounts, said his figure included €18 million in personal costs, but conceded that it did not include the cost of 24-hour security at multiple locations, one of the largest single elements.

That issue has now been raised again with the revelation that the exchequer, specifically the ministry for defence in The Hague, pays the annual cost of running the royal yacht, De Groene Draeck, for security reasons.

The parameters of the external auditors’ report are believed to have been agreed by accountants representing the royal household and officials of the prime minister’s office – with the suggestion that Mr Rutte indicated in advance that his preference was for the findings to remain “confidential”.

In light of that, a government spokesman said that to reveal the contents of the report would “compromise the privacy” of Queen Beatrix and the royal family.