Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Britons Want Queen to Pay for Palace Repair | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Gates of Buckingham Palace/ AFP: Carl Court

London – More than 125,000 Britons have signed an electronic petition calling the resident of Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II to pay for the palace repair, which is expected to cost £370 million funded by the taxpayer.

Activist Mark Johnson has set up the petition two days ago to express popular anger from the British Government’s announcement to allocate £369 million from the public treasury to repair the Buckingham Palace for the first time since the end of the Second World War; the repair will begin in April 2017, subject to Parliamentary approval.

Johnson told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country suffers from hard economic conditions like crises of housing and the governmental health system. While the government has taken hard austerity measures amid Brexit confusion – people cannot pay for repair, added Johnson.

The activist stressed on the importance of repairing Buckingham due to its importance as a touristic feature, but he called to postpone the step till the economic conditions in the country improve because the Briton citizen cannot afford these expenses presently.

Robin Priestley, manager of “38 Degrees” said that Mark has succeeded in attracting people and the British media and in impressing the public in an important case; he noted that some of the repair’s supporters have launched a counter-campaign.

Priestley asserted that people who inked the petition exceeded 100,000; however, this does not mean that the parliament will discuss it in its sessions.

While Johnson chose to express his anger through the petition, other Briton activists have used Twitter to attack this decision; they also called to suspend the royal grant and urged Queen Elizabeth to pay for her palace’s repair.

According to Graham Smith of the anti-monarchy group Republic, the royal family costs the British taxpayer over £334 million a year; he said this is an absolute disgrace and that it is an indictment on the Queen’s scandalous mismanagement of royal finances over six decades.

The decision that approved repair works came after a report prepared by expert who urged authorities to intervene to protect the palace from severe damages. The Queen and the government have considered that this project aims to protect the official royal places as a national heritage for the next generations.

Repair works expected to be launched in April, will include the change of old pipes, heating devices, and 60-year old electrical wires; PV panels will also be installed on the palace’s roof.

These refurbishment works aims at improving and rehabilitating the palace to increase its capacity on hosting more tourists; the repair’s final results are expected to drop the annual expenditures of the palace by £3.4 million and to reduce carbon emissions by 40%.