Taxpayer funding for the Prince of Wales increased last year as Charles and his family spent more than £12 million ($23.5m), royal accounts reveal.

The cash was spent on property, staff, travel, clothing and other expenses for the Prince, the Duchess of Cornwall, Princes William and Harry, and the Duchess of Cambridge.

Public funding for Clarence House climbed 11 per cent to £2.19m in 2011-12, an increase of £232,000 on the previous year, mostly due to the Prince and his immediate family undertaking more foreign tours, by Government request.

However publication of the figures in the annual review raised concern about the level of spending by the family amid austerity for many members of the public during the recession.


A breakdown of staff numbers showed that Clarence House and Prince Charles' country home, Highgrove, employed the equivalent of 135 staff, including 19 gardeners and estate workers, eight press officers, 10 housekeepers, three chauffeurs, two valets and a butler. Overall the Prince's income from his ancestral royal estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, rose 3 per cent to £18.2m. Of that, £12m went on official expenditure, including outfits and dresses for engagements, £4.4m on tax, and £2.6m on unofficial expenditure (the Prince's private spending). Clarence House said: "The increase was due to several factors, including more overseas visits by the Prince and the Duchess, more overseas visits by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and by Prince Harry, longer distances travelled during those visits, and the inclusion in the latest financial year of part of the costs of a spring tour in 2011 to Portugal, Spain and Morocco."

During 2011-12, Charles and Camilla toured Scandinavia, South Africa and Tanzania; Charles visited Kuwait and Qatar; William and Kate embarked on their first tour as a married couple last summer to Canada and Harry visited the Caribbean.

The annual report said the Prince and the Duchess helped raise, directly or indirectly, £131m for charity. It said Charles's 16 charities "represent, as a group, the largest multi-cause charitable enterprise in the UK".

Pay for most staff was frozen last year, Clarence House said, adding that the arrival of the Duchess of Cambridge, whose wedding to William was partly funded by his father, resulted in only "marginal" costs.

Graham Smith, chief executive of the campaign group Republic, was unimpressed. He said: "At a time when the country is facing sweeping cuts to public spending, Charles Windsor wilfully helps himself to whatever travel funds he wants or feels he needs.

- Independent