Probe into Cost of Camilla

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT JOBSON

PRINCE CHARLES faces a parliamentary grilling over the cost of Camilla Parker Bowles in the first public inquiry into his finances.

MPs will question two of Charles's top aides about his income from the Duchy of Cornwall.

It has emerged that he has received a 300per cent pay rise over the past decade, and a salary jump of [pounds sterling]2 million last year, while his tenants' rents have increased.

MPs want to ensure that taxpayers are getting value for money and that Mrs Parker Bowles, who has no official role, is being funded solely by Charles personally from taxed income.

One senior Public Accounts Committee source said: "The Duchy is a very profitable organisation established with the main purpose of covering the cost of the heir apparent's public and private life.

"That, as far as I am aware, does not include his live-in partner. It is something worthy of scrutiny."

Insiders say the Camilla question will be part of a wide-ranging inquiry into the prince's business interests by the 16 crossparty MPs on the committee.

On Monday, two of Charles's top financial aides - Duchy of Cornwall secretary Bertie Ross and chief executive Paul Clarke - will be questioned.

Last summer, Charles took the unprecedented step of revealing his financial commitment to Mrs Parker Bowles in his first annual review. But it fell short of detailing the exact amount he spends on running her office and living expenses.

Charles pays out of his own pocket for two part-time secretaries, a gardener and a driver to help her. But it is known he also lets her share the services of 28 palace staff, including the press office, who now act for her too.

The prince is also believed to fund her bodyguards, grooming, travel and personal needs. The total cost has never been revealed, but it is estimated to be nearly [pounds sterling]250,000 a year.

Charles's aides have been keen to avoid any criticism, insisting any private expenditure on Mrs Parker Bowles comes from "taxed income".

His private secretary, Sir Michael Peat, has stressed she is not being subsidised by the taxpayer. …