Queen raking in the moolah as tourists rain down on Buckingham Palace

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London, August 26 : The number of paying visitors to the Queen's Buckingham Palace in London has increased by eight per cent in the first three weeks of the annual summer opening from July 29.

Palace officials have been extending opening hours on some days to entertain a huge number of tourists.

The rise in the number of tourists to the palace comes despite a five per cent fall in foreign tourists to Britain this summer.

Royal aides are yet not certain whether the increase is due to more Britons holidaying at home because of the credit crunch, or whether it reflects the popularity of this summer's central attraction: a recreation of a state banquet in the Palace ballroom.

"In the first three weeks of the summer opening we've been about eight per cent up on average on the same period last year, which we're very pleased about," the Daily Express quoted Frances Dunkels, spokeswoman for the Royal Collection, which uses part of the revenue from the summer opening to help the Queen maintain Windsor Castle, as saying.

"We haven't had the chance yet to get a proper breakdown of the visitors and where they're from," she added.

The rise in visitor numbers at the palace is in contrast to many of Britain's other major attractions, including fellow royal residence Windsor Castle, where tourist figures are reportedly flat.

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