Why Spain’s royals spent nearly €1m less in 2016 than the year before

Political stalemate prevented overseas trips and meetings with foreign dignitaries

Spain’s Royal Household spent only 88.42% of the €7,775,040 it was assigned in 2016, the same amount it was given within the government’s budget in each of the two previous years, as part of a plan to make savings and thus make good on commitments to Brussels to reduce the country’s deficit.

Spain's King Felipe VI and Japan's Emperor Akihito during the recent state visit to Japan.
Spain's King Felipe VI and Japan's Emperor Akihito during the recent state visit to Japan.Javier Lizón / EFE

The reduced spending by the Spanish monarchy last year was largely a result of the political stalemate produced by the inconclusive elections of December 2015 and June 2016, which saw Prime Minister Rajoy of the Popular Party (PP) oversee a caretaker government until late October.

During the first 100 days of 2016, events involving the monarchy fell by 57.8% on 2015

Last year’s spending figures, prepared by the royal household’s comptroller and posted on the website of the Zarzuela Palace, King Felipe and Queen Sofia’s official residence, are part of a broader report into the Royal Household’s financial affairs, which will now be audited externally by the State Public Accounts Department.

The €900,000 savings have been achieved mainly by the reduced number of official events and overseas trips by King Felipe. As a result of the political stalemate last year, during the first 100 days of 2016, the number of events involving the monarchy had fallen by 57.8% on the previous year. The royal couple postponed trips to Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Japan, and South Korea. The Royal Household has also had to delay a number of projects related to new technology.

The royal family spent the €662,316 assigned to it by the state last year, while it used up 97.09% of the €3.8 million for staffing. It spent 79.79% of the €2.9 million for goods and services. Of the €80,000 set aside for trips, only 33.69% was used.

The Royal Household’s budget has decreased in recent years, with former King Juan Carlos beginning the process by taking a 2% cut in 2012 – down to €8.2 million in that year, or €170,000 less than a year earlier.

When King Felipe assumed the throne in 2014, among the changes he introduced were greater transparency regarding the royal household’s management and spending.

King Felipe even slashed his own salary by 20%, bringing it down to €234,204, although this did not mean savings to the taxpayer as he raised the allocation for other items, bringing the total amount that the royal palace receives from the state back to €7.7 million.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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