Police have cut the level of security surrounding Britain’s Royal Household, following a review into their security ordered by Home Secretary Theresa May. The review, which began two years ago, has led to the Metropolitan Police refusing to pay the £128m annual cost of royal security.
In this year’s Monarch’s annual report the Queen discloses that she had agreed to fund more of her security herself, according to the Daily Mail. It also says that four police officers who used to guard Kensington Palace, home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and St James’s Palace, made way for lower-paid security guards last year.
Now it is the turn of Royal Mews, where travel arrangements are made for the Royal family and where they keep their horses. It is on the Buckingham Palace site and is also the home to courtiers and servants. Breaching the security of Royal Mews would make the palace itself vulnerable, however it will also get non-police security guards.
The report says: “Following a review of security arrangements across the royal estate, the security of the Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace, was deemed to be outside the remit of SO14 Royalty Protection (Metropolitan Police Service)… Accordingly, funding by the Home Office is to be formally discontinued in 2014-15.”
It goes on to say the Royal family have set up a working group “to consider various options for the provision of security.” This includes the idea of combining security with the existing fire surveillance teams. The taxpayer will still indirectly pick up the bill for the security as it will be funded through the Sovereign Grant, the money paid to the Queen to finance her role as monarch.
The sovereign grant was brought in to replace the civil list in 2011, it is calculated at 15 percent of the profits from the Crown Estates. Every monarch since King George III has voluntarily surrendered the profits from the Crown Estate, which is the private property of the monarch, in exchange for the civil list. The money they get is a fraction of the £9bn value of the land. This means they arguable pay for the privilege of being the Royal family.
News of reductions in security is likely to lead to concerns that the Queen is not being properly protected. Unlike in the USA where security around the President is extremely tight, Royalty protection appears much more relaxed. In 2003 the “Comedy Terrorist” Aaron Barschak broke into Prince William’s 21st birthday at Windsor Castle and made a speech dressed as Osama Bin Laden.
It is rumoured that Prince Charles was so angry that he suggested abolishing the Police Royalty Protection altogether and asking the military to step in. It is unclear whether he will push forward with this plan when he becomes King.
Buckingham Palace itself has been broken into before, in 1982 Michael Fagan got into the Queen’s bedroom while she was sleeping. Initially it was reported he sat on the end of her bed and chatted to her but in reality she left the room immediately and called for police twice, who failed to arrive promptly.