MPs demand that NAO audits royals

Link: Royal finances to be investigated

The call came during a hearing of the Commons public accounts committee on Monday in which MPs grilled financial managers of the Duchies of Lancaster (the Queen) and Cornwall (the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles) over huge revenue increases in 2004 of £8.3m and £11.9m respectively.

Prompted by labour MP Sion Simon, who asked why the Prince’s financial managers were not opting to choose the National Audit Office to scrutinise its accounts like ‘everyone else’, NAO head Sir John Bourn said that he would ‘like to have a look at the books’.

An NAO official also told MPs that the accounts were at times ‘hard to comprehend.’

Currently, the accounts go through internal committee procedures, its auditors (PricewaterhouseCoopers), and an audit committee followed by the Treasury that has the power to veto anything it chooses.

In several scathing attacks on the duchies’ figures, MPs accused the queen and Prince of Wales of living in a ‘closeted world’ that lacks accounting ‘transparency’.

Bertie Ross, secretary and keeper of the records for the Duchy of Cornwall, said that the Prince’s revenues had risen for three reasons: ‘The investment strategy has moved from bond held leases to investing in commercial property, there has been a change in accounting practices and we have controlled costs.’

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