The private expenditure of Sweden’s royal family has been kept secret for nearly two centuries. In 1809, Karl XIII and the Swedish Parliament signed a pact keeping the monarch’s purse strings from scrutiny.
But now the government says the time has come for the sovereign’s spending power to go public. According to Tuesday’s Svenska Dagbladet a proposal in the autumn budget says tax payers should know how the king spends their money.
This year the Swedish royals will amass the whopping sum of 96.1 million kronor. Half the money goes directly to the upkeep of the 10 royal castles and those balance sheets are presently open for public viewing. The rest goes into the king’s pocket and exactly what he does with it has been his own business until now.
In 2004 a parliamentary majority consisting of the Social Democrats, Folkpartiet, the Left Party and the Greens demanded less secrecy surrounding royal finances.
”We want to know where our money goes,” said Green Party MP Gustav Fridolin. “Not least because the royal family could perhaps save money, just like we save money in many other areas.”
Lengthy discussions have taken place between the government and the Royal Court on the protocol of putting accountability into practice.
Ingemar Eliasson who heads the Royal Court told SvD: “We are looking at what we can do without violating the integrity that the royal family should be able to enjoy, like everyone else.”
Aside from the king’s outgoings, the government is also eager to know how much money goes to Queen Silvia, the three royal children and Princess Lilian.
In the 2006 the royal finances “will be made public when it comes to activities which are operated within the framework of funding for the Royal Court.”
This will include general expenses such as travel, state visits, official entertaining and transportation. Or as one tabloid aptly put it: “The royal family will therefore not have to document every time they buy Expressen, for example.”
Left Party MP Mats Einarsson has doubts as to whether the Royal Court’s booking-keeping will satisfactorily fit the bill. “The government proposal is a step in the right direction,” he told SvD. “But we’ll have to wait until we see the Royal Court’s first financial report before we can judge whether it is enough or not.”