If we Americans think things are tough on the economic front here, we need to consider the plight of Europe’s royal families. They’re really going through hell! I mean, I can’t imagine enduring that kind of agony. Someone light a candle because I hear a violin playing in the distance!
In England, Queen Elizabeth II has opened up parts of Buckingham Palace to tourists, raising money from admission tickets. Palace officials say they’ve met targets that called for a 25% cut in the royal budget. Even during her Diamond Jubilee celebration, Elizabeth cut her use of public funds. That also meant a pay freeze in palace staff. Fortunately, the staff has managed to keep Elizabeth’s fleet of Bentleys clean and polished for public appearances, so the news isn’t all bad.
In Belgium, King Albert II pledged earlier this year to use part of his salary to pay for upkeep on his myriad properties. He wanted to freeze the €10.8 million ($13.8 million) he gets from the state. He intends to use an automatic 2012 salary inflation adjustment of some 3% – or roughly €350,000 ($446,000) – to help pay for some of that property maintenance.
In the Netherlands, the budget for Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem Alexander and his wife, Princess Maxima, was reduced last year by €422,000 to €39.2 million. Most of that came in the form of cuts to the royal family’s private travel expenses. And, in a gesture of unbelievable austerity, the Beatrix paid €163,000 out of her own pocket for repairs on her private yacht, the Groene Draeck.
In Spain, King Juan Carlos I has cut his own salary, as well as that of his son, Felipe, by 7%. Juan Carlos will earn only about €272,000 ($334,000), while Felipe will take home about €131,000 ($160,000). The budget for the entire Spanish royal family is also being trimmed to around 7%, or €292,625. Royal palace staffers got hit last year, when had to start flying coach.
The royal families of Denmark, Norway and Sweden have managed to avoid similar financial distress by living within their means. Their budgets are all in order. But, they’re still suffering apparently because the overall weakened European market means a sharp reduction in exports from the Scandinavian region.