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Britain's queen wants to pay for castle upkeep

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II wants to pay the $21.42 million a year for the upkeep of her five royal palaces and castles, the Sunday Mirror newspaper reported.

The state has paid for maintaining royal residences since 1697, providing the monarch with an annual sum known as grant-in-aid to keep the buildings in good repair.

But the queen's financial adviser, Sir Michael Peat, said she wanted to lighten the load on the British taxpayer. Sir Michael, official title Keeper of the Privy Purse, told politicians at a recent House of Commons Public Accounts Committee: "The Queen has always said that she wants to take as little financial support from the taxpayer as possible.

"The cost of the monarchy to the taxpayer has come down 55 per cent in real terms during the last 10 years. It is my job to make sure that it comes down further.

"The Queen is responsible and she is particularly interested in minimising expenditure for the taxpayer," he said.

Referring to the income from tourists visiting Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, he said: "The Queen could use it for something else, but she has said she would like to offset the grant-in-aid."

Grant-in-aid is used to fund the five palaces lived in by the Queen and her close relatives—Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Clarence House, St James's Palace and Kensington Palace.

The queen hopes to use the profits from admission fees charged at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace to make her financially independent of the state, the newspaper reported. "I am very much looking forward to that day," Sir Michael said.