The Queen’s treasurer issued an unprecedented statement last night as Buckingham Palace was forced into a humiliating climb down over claims the Scottish government was to cut royal funding.
Sir Alan Reid, who holds the title ‘Keeper of the Privy Purse’, said the Palace had never intended to make a “criticism of Scotland or of the First Minister or to suggest that the First Minister had cast doubt on the continued funding of the monarchy”.
A palace source had said that Scotland’s nationalist government was preparing to pull out of a deal to help fund the monarchy next year. However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon dismissed the claims yesterday, saying they had “no basis in fact”.
She told the BBC: “I can’t be any more categoric about this. There has never been and never will be any suggestion that the Scottish government doesn’t continue to meet that contribution in full.”
“By hook or by crook, whatever way is actually agreed to do this, Scotland will pay our full contribution to the sovereign grant. There is no intention to cut our contribution, there is no desire to cut our contribution, and there has never been any discussion about cutting our contribution,” she added.
Sir Alan said he now accepts “unreservedly the assurances of the Scottish Government” that this will not happen.
Sir Alan led a briefing Tuesday during which an unnamed royal aide who feels passionately on the issue claimed that the Scottish government would cut the funding. The Times reports, however, that the outspoken intervention had not been approved by the palace.
In his clarification, Sir Alan added: “As we made clear at the briefing, Scotland contributes in many ways to the Treasury’s consolidated fund – out of which the Sovereign Grant is paid.
“We said explicitly that to imply Scotland would not pay for the monarchy was simply wrong and we accept unreservedly the assurances of the Scottish Government that the Sovereign Grant will not be cut as a result of devolution of the Crown Estate.”
The row came as new figures revealed Buckingham Palace was due a £150 million overhaul that could force the Queen to temporarily move out. The palace has not been redecorated since the 1950s and needs wiring and plumbing replaced and asbestos removed.