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14 Sep

Who Will Pay for Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral

LONDON — The British government has not yet disclosed how much Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday will cost, saying only that it would provide details “in due course.”

But the price tag, which will involve elaborate processions, vigils and rituals, is expected to be significant and will be covered by the state.

Even adjusted for inflation, her funeral is expected to cost more than the last state funeral in Britain, that of Winston Churchill, in 1965, and the ceremonial funeral for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, in 2002. The queen mother’s funeral was estimated to have cost 825,000 pounds ($954,000) for the lying-in-state and £4.3 million ($5 million) for security, according to a House of Commons report.

The hefty price tag for Queen Elizabeth II comes as consumer prices in Britain are rising at their fastest pace in four decades, with inflation exceeding 10 percent. Many people are worried about how they will pay for heating this winter, as average household bills increase by 80 percent next month, underpinned by soaring energy prices. The Bank of England is forecasting a long recession to begin later this year.

British people are “very good at living with that contradiction,” said Anand Menon, a professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King’s College London. That is “because the funeral is the funeral and it’s her,” he said, referring to the queen, “and also because it gives us the opportunity to host the biggest diplomatic jamboree ever.” A large number of princes, prime ministers and presidents, including President Biden, are expected to travel to London for the funeral.

A bigger issue for the British public may be the lack of transparency around the royal family’s finances, including that its members are not subject to inheritance tax. (Britons normally pay 40 percent tax on anything they inherit above £325,000.)

Britain’s Treasury gives the royal household a payment called a sovereign grant; the latest one was about $100 million. The family has used the grant for official royal duties, like visits, payroll and housekeeping, but it does not cover security costs, which are also paid by the government and are kept secret.

King Charles III has said that he wanted the monarchy to be slimmed down and more modern. “Doing both of those things without talking about financial transparency and the enormous wealth and where it comes from, and what’s fair and what’s not, strikes you as improbable,” Professor Menon said.

The royal family’s fortune is worth an estimated $28 billion.

On Monday, the day of the funeral, the queen’s coffin will be carried from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey on the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy. The coffin will then be taken to Wellington Arch, and a hearse will take it to St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

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