- - Wednesday, December 21, 2011

LONDON Forget Marie Antoinette, who, when told that peasants had no bread, apocryphally said: “Let them eat cake.”

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, whose cash-strapped country has enacted belt-tightening measures, has taken it upon herself to cut back on the perks that make the life of a royal so, um, royal.

Noblesse oblige? Call it the thrift of the throne.

The queen is learning how to pinch a pence.

Around the gilded hallways of the queen’s London residence, Buckingham Palace, posted notices urge the staff to take a more frugal approach to life.

Londoners have offered Queen Elizabeth II suggestions on how to save money in a down economy. (The Washington Times)
Londoners have offered Queen Elizabeth II suggestions on how to save money ... more >

“The attention is drawn to all members of staff to the need to switch off unwanted lights - By Order of The Master of The Household,” they read, according to the Financial Times, which also reported that the 85-year-old queen routinely totters around the palace turning off lamps.

Britain’s monarch probably was not considered when the Conservative-led government committed itself to eradicating “fuel poverty” - households that spend more than 10 percent of their annual income on heating and lighting - by 2016.

But soaring energy costs and an inconvenient freeze on royal funding by the government have left Queen Elizabeth close to joining her 5 million subjects in that classification.

Bills for heating and lighting four historic palaces and a castle are costing the queen an increasing percentage of her $50 million annual income. Last year, the royal electricity and gas bill was $3.4 million - about 7 percent of the monarchial income.

With the funding freeze in effect, further price increases could push the queen’s spending on energy to 10 percent of her income, placing the United Kingdom’s head of state into fuel poverty.

Even so, Queen Elizabeth would have an annual income far beyond that of the average Briton, who earned about $40,000 this year. But in case she is worried, her subjects and tourists in London are suggesting ways trim the royal budget.

Rent a room

The royal family already is renting out rooms at St. James’s Palace - the London home of Princess Anne and a clutch of lesser nobles - for corporate events during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The rent: $46,000 a day, according to the Daily Mail.

Londoners note that Her Majesty has larger and swankier digs that would fetch a pretty farthing as rental properties.

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