Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Queen to axe hundreds of jobs due to fall in Buckingham Palace tourism

Hundreds of the Queen's employees, including guards and tour guides, are facing redundancy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it's been revealed.

Up to 250 roles will be slashed, with staff being offered voluntary redundancies, amid warnings tourism will not return to normal until 2021.

The Queen will be down by around £18million from income from tourism, with a decline in visitors expected to continue as a result of the global coronavirus crisis.

The Royal Collection Trust has now agreed to defer its annual payment to the Royal Household because it has no money from visitors.

The Trust - which is owned by the Queen and manages palace tourism - says it will make a £30million loss this year as palaces are closed.

Since the start of lockdown, tour guides, caterers, office staff and wardens, have continued to receive full pay, despite Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace being closed for 15 weeks.

A palace insider told The Sun: "These redundancies are just the beginning. We expect when then full financial fallout is revealed later this year there will be mass redundancies and a scaling down of operations.

"There are serious questions now whether the Queen will ever go back to Buckingham Palace."

In an email sent last week to all staff by Vice Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt, master of the household, said: "We may not be fully operational across all of our various activities until 2021. As a result we have had to start considering some very difficult decisions."

They have already imposed a payment and recruitment freeze and a pension review.

A spokesman for the Royal Collection Trust 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 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 trust has cancelled the summer opening of Buckingham Palace, though Windsor Palace is expected to reopen this month when the Queen goes to Balmoral.

A spokesman added: “Although we hope to reopen the Palaces and Galleries to the public in late July, visitor numbers are expected to be significantly below their usual levels.

“We believe that, for the foreseeable future, lower visitor numbers can be accommodated within a five-day-week opening at all sites, with Tuesday and Wednesday as our closed days, but we will keep this arrangement under review.

“Looking ahead, we believe that the longer-term impact of Covid-19 on tourism means we have to plan ahead to ensure we are well placed to survive in the coming years.

“While we have taken out a £22million 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.

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