There was much joy in Parliament earlier this month at the first in-person State Opening of Parliament since 2019. But the return of pomp and circumstance to the Palace of Westminster wasn't universally applauded. Some doomsters took to Twitter to bemoan the sight of Prince Charles sat besides the Imperial State Crown while reading the Queen's Speech about the cost of living. And it seems such critics are found in the Commons too, for Plaid MP Hywell Williams has paid down a parliamentary question asking about the cost of all the pageantry to the taxpayer.
According to Sir Charles Walker – the chairman of the House of Commons Commission – a record £228,978 was spent by parliament on last year's Queen's Speech. Costs were split 60:40 between the Commons and the Lords, with the former stumping up £137,387. The main costs incurred relate to maintenance works to support areas such as broadcasting and digital, as well as the installation works for the Royal Gallery, Robing Room, the Lords Chamber and other areas. There are additional fees incurred for labour, transportation for items held in storage off site and the works required to the security barriers around St Stephens' entrance.
There have been four State Opening of Parliaments in the past five years: 2017, two in 2019 and 2021. The total cost of all this to taxpayers has been £1.23 million. This £105,316 on uniforms for Chamber related teams, including Clerks, the Speaker and their office, the Serjeant and their team of doorkeepers, though in fairness, such uniforms are worn elsewhere in the year. Other costs will also have been incurred by other bodies including Westminster City Council, the Metropolitan Police and the Royal Household.
Steerpike wonders how long it'll be before the killjoys over at Republic pick up on all this...