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Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Treated To £8m Helicopter, As Taxpayers Fork Out £4m Refurbishing Their Flat

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KATE AND WILLIAM
The Duke and The Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the newly-restored MacRosty Park in Crieff, where last year the grounds were designated a Queen Elizabeth II field for the enjoyment of the residents of Crieff and the surrounding area. | Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The Royal Family have defended spending a seven-figure sum refurbishing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's Kensington Palace apartment, while it was revealed the Queen has splashed out £8m on a helicopter for the pair.

The taxpayer will foot the bill - reported to cost in the region of £4 million - for extensive work on Kate and William's property, including installing a new roof, overhauling the electrics and carrying out significant plumbing works.

A royal spokesman said a "high standard" of work had been necessary and that the project actually offered taxpayers "great value."

Apparently the repairs and refurbishments, would also see a "significant amount of internal building" to "return the residence to function as a living space".

"This is the Duke and Duchess's one and only official residence. It is here that they plan to stay for many, many years to come," he said.

"We also had to take into account the fact that Kensington Palace is a scheduled ancient monument, and all elements of the refurbishment had to be agreed with English Heritage. Often this meant ensuring a high standard of work."

He said William and Kate "paid privately" for all the internal furnishings, including carpets and curtains. They were also at pains to ensure that the specification is not extravagant, according to the spokesman.

He added: "As with any other part of the estate, it was the royal household (TRH) who were responsible for the refurbishment of the residence - where they could in the course of the procurement process, TRH helped to bear down on cost.

"The household oversaw the planning, tendering and project management of the refurbishment and were responsible for the budget and spend."

Buckingham Palace also downplayed reports the Queen had taken on a snazzy new helicopter for the Cambridges' use, dubbed "Heir Force One."

The plush helicopter comes complete with Her Majesty’s crest, its own marking G-XXEC and leather seat coverings, of course.

A spokesman for the Queen said the monarch had "secured an annual lease" for a helicopter, for a fixed number of hours.

The spokesman said the helicopter would be used by members of the Royal Family - not exclusively William, a qualified pilot having undertaken training with the RAF, and Kate - and that the lease represented good value for money.

He said: "It will provide an alternative to chartering a number of different helicopters."

Somewhat unsurprisingly, many took to Twitter to voice their scepticism about the "money-saving" helicopter:

The Queen was told earlier this year that she needs to "get a grip" on finances, as it emerged the household is down to its last £1m in royal reserves.

A Commons committee warned the Queen need to get a handle on slashing costs, increasing income and sort out a backlog of repairs.

Income increased for the Royals during the last financial year, but expenditure had only been reduced by 5%.

Asked in January if the Royal Family had too many palaces, Margaret Hodge, the Public Accounts Committee's chairman, said: "I don't think we even looked at that - we wouldn't have dared to look at that."