Royal charity cut 165 jobs after 90 per cent fall in income last year

Visitors to Buckingham Palace (Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Visitors to Buckingham Palace (Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The Royal Collection Trust cut 165 jobs after it lost more than 90 per cent of its total income last year, latest figures show.

The charity maintains and displays the large collection of royal artefacts held in trust by the Queen and manages public visitors to her official residences, including Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

The charity's latest accounts show total income fell from £71.5m in the year to the end of March 2020 to £6.8m last year, as a “huge drop” in visitor numbers and associated retail sales meant it faced a “significant loss of income”.

Only 155,000 tourists visited royal residences in the last financial year amid the pandemic lockdown restrictions, compared with 3.3 million the year before.

As a result, the biggest drop in income was from access to the trust’s properties, which fell from about £49.5m to £2.5m. 

Income from trading activities such as retail, catering and photography also fell, by more than £16m to £4m. But this included a more than tripling of sales through the charity’s online shop, from £0.9m to £2.9m last year.

Total spending was reduced from £68m to £43m, and spending on charitable activities dropped more than £11m to about £19m. 

The charity put in place “a major staffing restructure, changes to pension arrangements to reduce cost, a pay and recruitment freeze and the suspension of all non-essential spend.”

About 124 staff left on voluntary redundancy terms and six left on compulsory terms.

The ending of fixed-term contracts, including intern and apprenticeship schemes, meant that in total 165 staff left the organisation, leaving it with 608 employees. 

Its accounts show redundancy payments of £317,000 as a result of the restructure. 

In May 2020 the trust agreed a five-year loan of £22m with its bankers. A second bank facility was put in place in March 2021 to allow additional borrowing of up to £30m for a seven-year period.

The charity warned it expects it to be several years before visitor numbers to royal residences and trading activity return to pre-pandemic levels, with further significant losses likely next year.

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