Palace to implement job losses and pay freezes as Royal Collection Trust set to lose £30 million

The charity which looks after the royal palaces and artefacts is seeking voluntary redundancies as it forecasts a £30 million loss this year.

The Royal Collection Trust manages the palaces including Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace as well as the huge collection of artefacts which are held in trust by the Queen for her heirs and the nation.

Usually its main source of income comes from the summer openings of the Queen’s London home, as well as Windsor, the Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

However the palaces had to remain closed this summer “because of the operational challenges of social distancing”.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: A general view of Buckingham Palace on June 18, 2020 in London, England. L'Appel du 18 Juin (The Appeal of 18 June) was the speech made by Charles de Gaulle to the French in 1940 and broadcast in London by the BBC. It called for the Free French Forces to fight against German occupation. The appeal is often considered to be the origin of the French Resistance in World War II. President Macron is the first foreign dignitary to visit the UK since the Coronavirus Lockdown began. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Buckingham Palace hasn't opened for its usual summer period. (Getty Images)

The RCT employs 650 people, and voluntary redundancy is open to all of them.

A spokeswoman said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has posed by far the greatest challenge to Royal Collection Trust in the charity’s history.

“The closure to the public of Windsor Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, and the Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh has had a very significant and serious impact on our finances, as we are entirely funded by visitor income from admissions and related retail sales.”

The spokeswoman said they were forecasting to make £13 million, revised down from initial figures of £77 million.

The RCT will suffer losses of £30 million this year.

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File photo dated 25/10/2018 of the wedding outfits of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on display in the Grand Reception Room at Windsor Castle, Berkshire as the Royal Collection Trust is seeking voluntary redundancies amid the "greatest challenge" in its history.
The wedding outfits of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on display in the Grand Reception Room at Windsor Castle. (PA Images)

The spokeswoman added: “While we have taken out a £22 million loan to enable us to continue to operate in the near future, we need to do so with a lower cost base to recover our financial position.

“Inevitably this must include a reduction in staff costs, which is our greatest single expense.

“As an initial step, we will implement a pay freeze, begin a process of consultation about the reduction of employer pension contributions and offer a Voluntary Severance Programme to employees.

“Once this Programme has closed, we will be able to take an informed view on the requirement for any additional restructuring.”

In May there were warnings from Lord Chamberlain Earl Peel, the most senior official of the royal household, in an email seen by The Sun, of pay freezes because of losses of revenue.

The palace openings first began after the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992, as the Queen faced a large bill for repair work.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 24:   Anna Reynolds, curator of Royal Collection Trust, puts the finishing touches to a display of the 1853 christening cake of Prince Leopold in the State Dining Room of Buckingham Palace, which features in a new exhibition exploring 250 years of royal childhood on July 24, 2014 in London, England. The exhibition, which opens to the public on July 26 and runs until September 28 features childhood toys, family gifts and outfits belonging to the Royal family dating back 250 years.  (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
The RCT arranges the exhibitions at the palaces and manages the collections. (Getty Images)

It cost £8 for adults to visit in the summer of 1993. According to the BBC, all advance booking slots for palace visits booked up in a week – for the next three years.

The plan originally was just for the palace to open until 1997, but the RCT, which was set up to look after tourism at the London palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, continued the summer events.

The Queen and Prince Philip have been in Windsor Castle since the middle of March and may remain there for some time, though it was reported they could have their summer break in Balmoral.