London, Jan 27: A powerful committee of MPs has urged Queen Elizabeth to open Buckingham Palace more often to the public in return for an increase in taxpayers' money for the upkeep of the Royal palaces.
According to The Telegraph, the decision of Michelle Obama, America's new First Lady, to pledge to make the White House more accessible was held up as an example by the MPs to the Monarchy, which only opens Buckingham Palace in August and September for fee-paying tours when no member of the family is there: a total of 63 days a year.
Some MPs proposed it opened at weekends throughout the year when the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are elsewhere. Sir Alan Reid, the Keeper of the Privy Purse, was giving evidence to the Commons public accounts committee after the government rejected an appeal from the
Queen to increase the taxpayer-funded grant for the Palaces by four million pounds a year.
The grant has been frozen at 15 million pounds for 12 years. Sir Alan said that members of the Royal Family are in residence at the Queen's London home for around 300 days of the year with the Queen at Buckingham Palace three to four days a week.
He said it was not practical for members of the public to wander around the royal residence during a state visit while a foreign head of state was in the building. But Committee Chairman Edward Leigh countered by saying: "You cannot close the whole palace because the Duke of York is sitting in his flat upstairs."
The plight of some of the palaces, whose maintenance is paid for by the taxpayer, is causing growing concern to the Queen. The Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, near Windsor Castle, which houses the tomb of Queen Victoria, has been designated by English Heritage as 'at risk' after part of the ceiling fell in.
A large stretch of roof at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace also needs replacing after some masonry fell off narrowly missing the car owned by the Princess Royal. Some of the grandest state rooms at Buckingham Palace have not been redecorated since the Queen came to the throne in 1952.