Hundreds of royal staff are being axed this month with jobs toll set to rise

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HUNDREDS of royal staff are being axed this month amid fears of mass palace redundancies.

Between 175 and 250 workers are being offered voluntary redundancies as the palace admits operations will not get back to normal until next year.

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The Queen will be down by around £18million from income from tourism.

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.

It is offering voluntary redundancy to up to 250 or 650 tour guides, caterers, office staff and wardens.

Their wages have all been paid in full despite royal sites including Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace closed for 15 weeks.

Windsor is expected to open at the end of July when The Queen goes to Balmoral.

A palace insider said: “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.”

Income is expected to fall from £77million to £13million this year.

It is estimated that Royal Collection Trust will incur a loss of £30million by the end of 2020/21.

It has taken out a £22million loan to get to the end of the year.

The trust has cancelled the summer opening of Buckingham Palace, reducing exhibitions and a recruitment freeze.

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.

“As an initial step, we will implement a pay freeze, begin a process of consultation about the reduction of employer pension contributions and offer a Voluntary Severance Programme to employees.

“Once this Programme has closed, we will be able to take an informed view on the requirement for any additional restructuring.”

Prince Charles’s private income from the Duchy of Cornwall estate will fall by a ‘significant amount’ next year because of the coronavirus crisis.

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