Revenue from historic buildings is lacking, and Queen Elizabeth is forced to lay off


The Historic Royal Palaces foundation, which manages England's unoccupied royal palaces, has a 110 million hole due to Covid and is forced to lay off.

A 110 million hole in the budget of England’s royal palaces unoccupied due to Covid-related closures: that is the serious shortfall expected this year for the six Historic Royal Palaces, namely the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Banqueting House, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. This was announced on Sept. 14 by the foundation that manages the palaces on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, who is formally responsible for the care of the buildings. The six palaces, all of which can be visited, receive no public contributions and can only rely on income from visitors, donors and sponsors.

The damage is therefore severe: the Historic Royal Palaces foundation expects receipts of only 10 million pounds this year, or 89 percent less than usual. “Recovery will take years,” reads a note sadly, “and this means that we have to plan to survive on half of our usual income. We have no other choice: we must take measures to reduce our costs.” And these measures have a very clear name: layoffs. Which will affect, at least for the time being and should the foundation’s proposal pass, 86 staff members, consisting of 1,165 employees. “We would not be proposing layoffs,” the foundation makes known, “if we had not gone through all possible avenues. As soon as the pandemic started to hit, we stopped all unnecessary spending. We have made full use of the government’s Job Retention Scheme and are using our economic reserves, which we expect to exhaust early next year. We continue to pursue every avenue we have left to find additional resources, and we are enormously grateful to our members, donors and visitors for their continued support.”

Historic Royal Palaces lets it be known that the item of employee salaries weighs half of the foundation’s budget, but the percentage rises sharply in the absence of revenue: the foundation has therefore already had to stop hiring, terminate seasonal contracts, and make some cuts in employee salaries. And it has already let it be known that further reductions will be necessary in the future, just as it is not ruled out that layoffs will affect more employees. At the moment, the cut of 86 employees has not yet been decided (it is currently a proposal); a final answer will have to wait until the end of a 45-day consultation period.

“At every stage of this crisis,” said John Barnes, general manager of Historic Royal Palaces, “we have tried to limit the impact of the financial challenges on our staff, who care for the palaces. If we are to continue our work, we must act now to reduce salaries and make our organization financially sustainable. We are honored to be the guardians of six important palaces, but the staff who take care of them are the soul of our organization, and we are deeply sad to have come to this point.”

Photo: the crown kept in the Tower of London.

Revenue from historic buildings is lacking, and Queen Elizabeth is forced to lay off
Revenue from historic buildings is lacking, and Queen Elizabeth is forced to lay off