The Independent, 29 June 2013

The Chancellor’s spending review has left almost everyone licking their wounds, from government ministers to those signing on. Everyone except one, that is. The queen, unlike the rest of us, has just been awarded a 15% pay rise. Unable to manage on a meagre £31 million a year, she now has an extra £5 million to help make ends meet. She got an extra million last year, too, but that was to pay for the Diamond Jubilee: union jack bunting and a warm, waterproof coat don’t come cheap, we now know.

It’s difficult, working out how to give money to those in need while not handing it over to those who can manage perfectly well without. Means-testing is complex and often ends up costing more to administer than the money saved. But couldn’t we make an exception, and state categorically that anyone who wears a crown regularly is probably okay for cash at the moment? In fact, maybe we could assume they’re fine for money, full stop, if they also have one or more of the following: a throne, a sceptre, a palace, a castle.

I don’t want the corgis to go hungry any more than you do, but an extra £5 million does seem like a lot. Perhaps we could claim back some benefits in kind. Could the queen’s free bus pass maybe go to a cash-strapped jobseeker? Might her free TV licence be better used by a housebound person whose disability living allowance has been cut?

But maybe I’m being too harsh. The queen has staff to pay, after all, and £10 million of her annual grant goes to pay footmen, maids and other lowly workers. Rather disappointingly for those of us who thought we were all in this together, their pay was frozen several years ago, so wherever her extra cash is going, it obviously isn’t on them.

I suppose those royal palaces don’t keep themselves decorated. And at least the queen is generous to her family, having just spent £1.1 million refurbishing William and Kate’s Kensington Palace apartment. The roof needed doing, apparently. And with a baby on the way, it’s lucky the apartment has 21 rooms. Nothing worse than being cramped.