Saturday, 24 Oct 2020

Royal family on brink: PM caves to ‘populist’ campaign – monarchy faces HUGE changes

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte caved in to demands issued by the opposition, despite branding it “populist”. After the opposition called for a five-yearly audit of the royal budget, the Government agreed to provide “extensive” details regarding the Royal Family’s expenses and financial needs by the end of the year.  

However, Mr Rutte said leaving Parliament to discuss and audit these expenses would likely lead to a debate that could easily fall into the populist realm.

He said: “We have to be careful with a discussion that quickly becomes populist.

“You are never going to agree on the amount.”

Whatever salary the royals receive, he added, some MPs would still regard it as unfair. 

Over the past few years, the House of Orange-Nassau received between £36 to £38 million (€40 to €42 million) from taxpayers.

Next year, the royal budget is expected to rise by five percent to £43.33 (€47.5 million).

This increase in spending for the royals comes as the purchasing power of the average citizen in The Netherlands has grown only by 0.8 percent.

And the rising costs won’t cover the whole public spending of the Royal Family, as the budget doesn’t take into account state visits, the upkeep of palaces and the cost of security. 

As the country’s Prime Minister, Mr Rutte receives an annual income of £155,000 (€170,000).

According to next year’s budget, King Willem-Alexander is set to receive £910,400 (€998,000).

The monarch will also receive £4.65 million (€5.1 million) in official allowances for his staff and expenses.  

His wife, Queen Maxima, is going to be paid £1 million (€1.1 million).

Former monarch Queen Beatrix, who stood down from public office in 2013, will get £1.55 million (€1.7 million).

After turning 18 next April, the heir apparent to the throne, Crown Princess Catharina-Amalia, will also start receiving a hefty allowance.

The princess, the budget reads, will get £1.46 milliom (€1.6 million) including a salary amounting to £273,670 (€300,000). 

Dutch Labour MP Attje Kuiken joked about the eye-watering sum the 18-year-old heir is entitled to receive.

Calling for more transparency when it comes to hand over taxpayers’ money to royals, Ms Kuiken said: “That is a generous study grant.

“Perhaps it is very relevant, perhaps it is very useful, but I would like to know what it is based on… and whether it still fits within the present time.”

Mr Rutte said this allowance was appropriate, given Catharina-Amalia’s status and destiny.

The royal, he argued, will also need to learn how to manage her funding, and it’s only fair she starts to develop financial independence upon reaching the adult age.

He said: “She is no ordinary 18-year-old girl.

“She is the Crown Princess.

“All this is very sensibly put away, no doubt, in a way that enables her to build up her own secretariat and her own staff.”

Ronald van Raak, a Socialist Party MP, challenged Mr Rutte, asking whether he considers himself financially independent despite gaining far less than the Crown Princess. 

He replied: “Yes, I am, but I can make my own money before and after this.

“King Willem-Alexander and Amalia don’t have that.”

Much like senior royals in the UK, Dutch full-time working members of the Royal Family can’t pursue careers of their own or be financially independent.

In comparison with its Dutch counterpart, British taxpayers have paid £67 million into the Sovereign Grant in the financial year ending in 2019.

The value of the money the British Government transfers every year into the Grant depends on how much money the Crown Estate real estate portfolio has brought in.    

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