23:11 GMT06 August 2020
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    Hundreds of UK royal staff may be laid off this summer as Queen Elizabeth’s palaces and castles remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    According to the Sun, talks are underway to discuss payment for the voluntary resignation of between 175 and 250 employees.

    The staff is officially employed by the Royal Collection Trust, a charity owned by the queen that manages the official residences of the royal family. The Trust’s income comes from visitor funds, such as ticket and gift shop sales at various palaces. However, with the palaces closed due to the pandemic, tens of millions of dollars’ worth of visitor funds have been lost. 

    The Royal Collection Trust, which has already canceled the summer opening of Buckingham Palace as a result of the pandemic, is expected to lose almost $40 million this year.

    “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,” a Royal Collection Trust spokesperson told the Sun.

    The spokesperson also noted that the Royal Collection Trust has taken out a loan of almost $28 million to make it to the end of the year.

    “While we have taken out a £22 million [around $28 million] 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,” the spokesperson added.

    The Royal Collection Trust is currently offering voluntary redundancies to hundreds of tour guides, caterers, office staff and wardens. Voluntary redundancies are financial incentives offered by companies to encourage employees to choose to resign.

    “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,” a palace insider recently told the Sun.

    “There are serious questions now whether the queen will ever go back to Buckingham Palace.”

    Vice-Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt, master of the household to the queen, reportedly told staff in an email last week: “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.”

    The latest data by Worldometer reveals that almost 287,000 novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the UK.

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