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LONDON - How much does it cost to make a home fit for a prince? More than $6 million, apparently.
Royal accounts released Thursday reveal the price tag for the two-year refit that has involved significant rebuilding work, including roof repairs and installing running water. The apartment had not been updated in more than 50 years. Since the death of its previous occupant, Queen Elizabeth's sister Princess Margaret, it has been used as office space.
"No other public body divides their costs by the entire population and says 'tadaa! look how cheaper we are!'"
Royal officials have been keen to stress that the redone apartment is “not opulent” and that furnishings will be paid for privately, most likely by William’s father, Prince Charles. He’s also picking up the tab for the installation of a second so-called family kitchen, which surely must guarantee a dinner invite once his son and daughter-in-law have moved in.
A Kensington Palace spokeswoman told NBC News the royal couple "have been at pains to keep costs to a minimum" and are "mindful this is public money."
The figures were revealed in Buckingham Palace’s accounts, which show the royal family cost British taxpayers $60 million in the last year – an increase on the previous year of just over $4 million dollars.
The accounts show a 45 percent increase in the amount being spent repairing royal properties to $22.6 million. In January a committee of British law makers criticized the palace, saying there was a ‘maintenance backlog’ with many royal buildings in a state of disrepair.
Officials like to break the total cost of the royals on taxpayers down to price-per-person, so this year its 95 cents for each Brit.
It’s a calculation that allows the bill for the monarchy to be compared to the price of "two pints of milk" - a comparison which infuriates republicans.
"No other public body divides their costs by the entire population and says 'tada! look how cheap''" wrote Graham Smith from Republic, which advocates for the monarchy's abolition, on the organization's website.
"This nonsense has to be rejected by journalists and politicians alike."
While the overall cost of the royal family largely goes unquestioned, the royals’ travel bill does attract particular scrutiny in the British media, with journalists keen to see which members have been spending big on chartering planes and helicopters.
In December, Prince Charles spent $433,000 to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
But scorn is usually reserved for his brother, Prince Andrew. His nickname in the British tabloids?