Anyone who read The Times yesterday will share my sense of shock at the headline 'Prince Charles's Harpist Arrested For Stealing'. Or something like that; I threw it away after the Su Doku and the crossword. Blimey! I thought. Prince Charles has a harpist? Alas, it turns out he doesn't; she just played at one of his weddings. Apparently harp gigs are scarce, for she has gone on a nicking spree, and was caught with a flat-screen TV and other goodies in her Ford Galaxy.
doesn't come cheap
doesn't come cheap
But it made me think. We haven't heard much about ole' Royal Big-ears in recent times; has creeping republicanism under New Labour bitten hard? Will we soon be seeing G. Brown's horrible fizzog on our hard-earned pound coins, ar at least those he's left us? Did Chas lay off his harpists, punkah wallahs, polo ponies and palace polishers?
No. Check out the very classy Duchy of Cornwall web-site. The royal train is still brimming with prime gravy. His Nibs owns 54,000 hectares spread over 23 counties (mostly Devon, funnily enough). Next time you're munching on one of those slightly weird and cosmically expensive orange biscuits, consider this; in 2008/9 the Duchy pulled in a tidy £20.2m, with costs of only £7.3m. Not bad eh? I suspect he could afford to charge a bit less. But one does need to maintain a dignified distance between oneself and the jammie dodgers.
So where do all those profits go? Well, the Duchy gave away £86,000 to charit-eh (I wonder if he supports hard-up bloggers?) which accounts for about 0.6%. The rest you'll find in section 13 of the accounts; 'Balance due to his Royal Highness' which shows his payment last year as £16,458,000. Nice work if you can get it.
To be fair, this princely sum (sorry) covers a bunch of other stuff too, including £3.4m of tax to Mum. That, and other things like 'official duties' (Good heavens, Camilla, is it Thursday already?), 'maintaining official residences' (Sorry, too tired, I'm orrf to sleep at Clarence House), and 'military seconders' (I say, Major, are you free this Thursday?). In all they eat up £13.88m. Makes your average MP's expenses look a bit weedy, eh? But HRH is left less than three million quid to spend on himself and the family. That would hardly keep one supplied with decent biscuits. No wonder he's sent the lads off to the army.