The Spanish Royal family is to cut its budget for the first time in history as part of nationwide austerity measures that will see it become the least expensive royal household in Europe.
The King and Queen will be tightening their belts alongside the rest of nation as Spainstruggles to reduce a bloated budget deficit and emerge from nearly two years of recession.
The Zarzuela Palace has announced that the household budget for 2011 would be significantly reduced from this year but the exact figures would not be unveiled until later this month when it will be presented to parliament for approval.
Reports suggested the budget could be slashed by up to 9 per cent reducing funds available to the King by as much as €800,000 (£669,000), making him the least expensive Royal in Europe.
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This year the budget was frozen at the 2009 level of €8.9 million (£7.43), a figure well below that of Britain’s Royal family cost the taxpayer a total of £38.2 million last financial year.
A comparative study of expenditure by Europe’s constitutional monarchies puts the Windsors at the top of the list, followed by the Dutch monarchy on £33.1 million, the Norwegian on £23.4 million and the Belgian on £11.5 million.
With the proposed cuts Spain’s royal family would have a budget of £6.8 million less than even the Luxembourg monarchy who last year spent £7.2 million.
Spain’s Royal Household has already scaled down with a series of economies. Its 140 members of staff joined the rest of the nation’s civil servants in having their salaries cut by five per cent in June as part of a government austerity plan that also froze pensions.
This August King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia shortened their annual holiday at their summer palace on the island of Majorca, spent less time sailing on the royal yacht Fortuna, and entertained fewer guests.
Last year Queen Sofia shocked royal watchers when she chose to fly with budget airline RyanAir to visit her brother Constantine, the former King of Greece, after he had heart surgery in London. The flight from the northern Spanish city of Santander to London Stansted cost only £13.
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But parliamentary rules in Spain mean that the King does not have to account for how he spends his budget.
“Spain is one of the least transparent of all the monarchies when it comes to spending,” explained Herman Matthijs, professor at Belgium’s VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussels), who carried out an exhaustive study of the expenditures of Europe’s royal households.
“The annual budget given to the King Juan Carlos is for him to spend and distribute to the members of his family as he sees fit. State visits, royal protection and the upkeep of royal palaces all come from budgets hidden within other departments,” he said.
“I can’t see that it will cause the Spanish King too much hardship to survive on a little bit less but it will send a positive message to the people of Spain that he is making sacrifices along with everyone else.”