AFP , Thursday 18 May 2023
Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral and related events following her death last September cost UK taxpayers nearly £162 million ($201 million), the government revealed on Thursday in its first public estimate.
An image taken from the video Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen of then Princess Elizabeth showing off her new engagement ring soon after Prince Philip s marriage proposal at Balmoral in 1946. AP
The elaborate state funeral for Britain’s longest-serving monarch, held on September 19, entailed a vast security operation for hundreds of foreign heads of state and royals.
It followed hundreds of thousands of people queuing round the clock for days to view her coffin as it lay in state at the UK parliament in London and in Edinburgh, which also required costly security and logistical arrangements.
In a written statement to parliament, finance minister John Glen said the total estimated cost ran to £161.7 million, with the interior ministry — responsible for policing — accounting for the biggest proportion (£73.7 million).
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport spent £57.4 million, while the Scottish government billed £18.8 million.
“The death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September 2022 and the period of national mourning that followed was a moment of huge national significance,” Glen said.
“The government’s priorities were that these events ran smoothly and with the appropriate level of dignity, while at all times ensuring the safety and security of the public.”
The disclosure comes shortly after the coronation earlier this month of Elizabeth’s son, King Charles III, with its likely bill raising eyebrows — and complaints — as many Britons struggle with the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation.
Buckingham Palace has rejected reports that the total for that vast security operation would top £100 million.
More than 5,000 police officers from across the UK supported 10 days of ceremonial events to mark the late queen’s death and Charles’ immediate accession to the throne last September.
Many were redeployed to support the events taking place in London and Scotland, where she died aged 96 at her Balmoral estate after a year of declining health.
Policing was also required in Windsor, west of the UK capital, and in Norfolk, to its northeast where the royals’ Sandringham estate is situated.
The day of the funeral was the then-largest policing operation London’s Metropolitan Police had ever staged, beating the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic Games.
That has since been topped by the operation around the May 6 coronation, which saw the Met leading an operation involving 11,500 officers, staff and volunteers on duty.
Anti-monarchists have branded the coronation a “vanity parade” and waste of scarce public money.
But supporters have countered that the weekend-long celebration, which included an additional public holiday, would pay for itself in extra spending by people and visits to the UK by tourists.
This article was originally published by Agence France-Presse.