British monarch ‘asked for heating handout’

(AFP) – Queen Elizabeth II asked the British government for money from a fund for poor people to help pay heating bills on her palaces, a newspaper reported on Friday.

The request was rebuffed because officials feared the news would be a public relations disaster for the monarch, according to the Independent, which learned of the request under Freedom of Information legislation.

Royal aides complained to ministers in 2004 that the queen’s gas and electricity bills had increased by 50 percent and were now “untenable”, costing more than one million pounds (1.5 million dollars, 1.2 million euros) a year.

Aides said the 15-million-pound state grant the queen received for the upkeep of the palaces was inadequate and asked if the royal family was eligible for special funds to replace four combined heat and power units at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

The money would come from a government scheme to fund heating programmes that benefit people on low incomes.

According to the Independent, the then Labour government initially agreed to the idea but then changed its mind.

An official wrote to the palace pointing out the fund’s intended purpose, adding: “I also feel a bit uneasy about the probable adverse press coverage if the palace were given a grant at the expense of, say, a hospital.”

Buckingham Palace refused to comment on the report.

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