Queen Elizabeth II to trim costs as COVID-19 hits income

Queen Elizabeth II to trim costs as COVID-19 hits income
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her family are facing a 35 million pound ($45 million) hit from the coronavirus pandemic. (File/AP)
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Updated 25 September 2020

Queen Elizabeth II to trim costs as COVID-19 hits income

Queen Elizabeth II to trim costs as COVID-19 hits income
  • The accounts show that the monarchy cost British taxpayers $88.2 million in the year to the end of March
  • Officials have said the palace’s aging infrastructure is at risk of a catastrophic failure if it’s not replaced

LONDON: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her family are facing a 35 million pound ($45 million) hit from the coronavirus pandemic, partly due to a shortage of tourists, the monarch’s money-manager said Friday.
Releasing the royal household’s annual accounts, Keeper of the Privy Purse Michael Stevens said a lack of income from visitors to royal buildings was likely to bring a general funding shortfall of 15 million pounds ($19 million) over three years.
He said the impact of the pandemic is also likely to cause a 20 million-pound ($25.4 million) shortfall in a 10-year, 369-million-pound program to replace antiquated heating, plumbing and wiring at Buckingham Palace, the queen’s London home.
Officials have said the palace’s aging infrastructure, which had its last major upgrade after World War II, is at risk of a catastrophic failure if it’s not replaced.
Stevens said the royal household would not ask for more government money but would “look to manage the impact through our own efforts and efficiencies.”
Buckingham Palace has already introduced a staff pay freeze and a halt to hiring.
The accounts show that the monarchy cost British taxpayers 69.4 million pounds ($88.2 million) in the year to the end of March, an increase of 2.4 million ($3.1 million) on the previous financial year.
The accounts also show that Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, paid an undisclosed sum to reimburse the public purse for rent and refurbishment of their Frogmore Cottage home near Windsor Castle. The exact sum will appear in next year’s accounts. The renovation costs alone for the home were 2.4 million pounds ($3.1 million.)
Harry, 36 and the former Meghan Markle, 39, married at Windsor Castle in May 2018. The couple announced early this year they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said was the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California.
Harry and Meghan signed a lucrative deal this month to produce nature series, documentaries and children’s programming for streaming service Netflix.


Militants open fire and burn police car in Philippine town

Updated 04 December 2020

Militants open fire and burn police car in Philippine town

Militants open fire and burn police car in Philippine town

COTABATO, Philippines: Dozens of militants aligned with the Daesh group opened fire on a Philippine army detachment and burned a police patrol car in a southern town but withdrew after troops returned fire, officials said Friday.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in Thursday night’s brief attack by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Piang town. Nevertheless it sparked panic among residents and rekindled fears of a repeat of a 2017 militant siege of southern Marawi city that lasted for five months before being quelled by government forces.
“We are on top of the situation. This is just an isolated case,” regional military commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. said in a statement.
Security officials gave differing statements on the motive of the 30 to 50 gunmen. Some said the militants targeted Datu Piang’s police chief over a feud but others speculated that the militants wanted to project that they are still a force to reckon with by attacking the army detachment in the center of the predominantly Muslim town.
Officials denied earlier reports that the militants managed to seize a police station and burn a Roman Catholic church.
When reinforcement troops in armored carriers arrived and opened fire, the militants fled toward a marshland, military officials said.
The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters is one of a few small armed groups waging a separatist rural insurrection in the south of the largely Roman Catholic nation. The groups opposed a 2014 autonomy deal forged by the largest Muslim rebel group in the south with the Philippine government and have continued on and off attacks despite being weakened by battle setbacks, surrenders and factionalism.
The armed groups include the Abu Sayyaf, which has been blacklisted by the United States and the Philippines as a terrorist organization for kidnappings for ransom, beheadings and bombings.