Queen's funeral costs revealed: UK emergency services spent £75m - how and where the money was spent
New figures have revealed the massive £75 million bill to emergency services as a result of the Queen's funeral last year.
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UK emergency services spent at least £75 million on the Queen’s funeral last year, the Home Office has revealed in response to an exclusive investigation by NationalWorld ahead of King Charles’s coronation next week.
Our investigation has prompted Labour for a Republic, an anti-monarchy campaign group made up of Labour Party members and supporters, to call on the government to “get a grip” of the royal finances. It also expressed alarm at a lack of transparency from both the Home Office and many police forces, after they refused to report their spending or said they did not know what the cost had been.
Following NationalWorld's investigation, on 18 May the Treasury published further estimates for the Queen's funeral costs, with the total spend coming in at £162 million. This was reported by the main UK government departments and the devolved nations' governments. You can find the full breakdown of the Queen's funeral costs in our latest story.
NationalWorld sent 51 Freedom of Information (FOI) Act requests to police forces, ambulance services and fire brigades across the UK, asking how much the Queen’s funeral and mourning period had cost them. Twenty-nine of them provided figures, putting the cost at over £30 million – and that was without information from the UK’s biggest police force, London Metropolitan Police, which led the police response to the funeral and which has so far refused to answer our request. Thames Valley, which polices the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, where the Queen was buried, also refused to answer the request, as did England’s third biggest police force, Greater Manchester Police.
We also sent an FOI request to the Home Office, only to be told it held no information on the cost of the funeral. But after NationalWorld approached the Home Office for a comment ahead of publishing our investigation, it revealed in a statement it had in fact provided £75 million for police and fire and rescue services operations. It later tried to retract the revelation, saying the Treasury would be publishing details in due course, although confirmed the figure was correct when questioned.
The Home Office told us that emergency services were able to recoup their additional costs from the government "as is normal practice for extraordinary large events of this nature", but could not claim for costs incurred as a result of the additional bank holiday, as this will have affected all employers across the country.
No local breakdowns are available for the £75 million the Home Office said it provided. But NationalWorld can reveal how much was spent by each of the public bodies we asked for information from. We contacted every British police force, as well as the Scottish ambulance and fire services, London ambulance and fire services, and Berkshire Fire Brigade (which covers Windsor). The information below is live – we will be updating it as new data comes in, and each emergency service body’s spend is reported.
How much did the Queen’s funeral cost emergency services?
The information below will be updated as we obtain new information from police forces. Last update was 18 May 2023.
A Home Office spokesperson has revealed it “provided over £75 million for policing and fire operations” concerning the late Queen’s funeral. They did not disclose what this was spent on, but said seven organisations had direct operational responsibilities: the Metropolitan Police, Thames Valley Police, Surrey Police, Gloucestershire Police, Essex Police, Norfolk Constabulary and the London Fire Brigade.
Separately, NationalWorld asked every police force to provide a figure on the total non-recoverable cost of the funeral, and to separately tell us about costs they had recovered from other police forces they had provided mutual aid to. Mutual aid is where police forces send some of their resources to another to help with unexpected or extraordinary events. The force receiving the support should reimburse the costs.
Many forces did not provide us with separate figures however, giving just one sum which in some cases included their mutual aid costs or in others excluded it. But with two of the forces that received mutual aid support failing to answer our FOI (the Metropolitan Police and Thames Valley Police), the data provided still helped to build a picture of the total cost across the country. We also sent requests to ambulance and fire and rescue services known to have played a role.
Of the 43 organisations that have provided us with data to date, the total cost came in at £33.1 million. This figure includes the costs of bank holiday pay, which the Home Office figure does not, and does not include four of the seven bodies the Home Office said had been officially involved – indicating the true burden to the taxpayer could be even higher than the £75 million the Home Office provided.
While major events will require significant support from the emergency services in order to keep the public safe, campaigners argue that the cost to the taxpayer of staging royal events such as funerals or coronations should be made available for the public to scrutinise. NationalWorld is continuing to push for more information to be released.
“Even republicans accepted that the late Queen deserved a state funeral, and we would have guessed that it was going to be expensive,” he said, before labelling the Home Office figures "astonishing".
He added: “That it might have cost around £75 million for policing and fire for the funeral alone suggests the coronation must be costing taxpayers a bomb. It must be hugely more expensive than that. The £75 million for the funeral has been paid for by taxpayers, many of whom have been struggling with rising food and fuel costs. Unless they are on benefits, however, they need to pay the costs of family funerals themselves, yet the King, with around £1.8 billion in personal wealth, gets the state to pay.”
Which emergency services spent the most?
The most significant spend to date according to our investigation was reported by Police Scotland, who told us its operational costs came to £15.4 million – almost half our current £33.1 million total. Because the Queen died in Scotland, Operation Unicorn kicked in, which saw her coffin transported to Edinburgh to lie in state at St Giles’ cathedral for 24 hours – an event that drew tens of thousands of mourners with many queuing overnight.
The force said its costs had been covered in full by HM Treasury. It is unclear if Police Scotland’s expenditure is included in the Home Office’s £75 million figure, since policing in Scotland is devolved.
Police Scotland did receive mutual aid support from other UK forces, which means if some other police forces have included mutual aid costs they later recovered from Police Scotland within their total costs, there could be some double counting in our £33 million total.
However, of the 14 police forces that have disclosed their mutual aid costs so far, three have said provided nothing to Police Scotland while a fourth sent them support worth only £5,000, compared to £250,000 of support to the Metropolitan Police, so the impact may be negligible. Most refused to say which forces they provided mutual aid too, on national security grounds.
The next highest spend so far was reported by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, at £1.62 million, although it said it recovered £1.36 million of this. It was followed by West Yorkshire Police, at £1.59 million, then West Midlands Police on £1.54 million, and British Transport Police on £1.34 million. Six police and fire and rescue services said the cost of their response had come in at over £1 million.
Bot West Yorkshire Police and West Midlands Police said they had included mutual aid costs within its total. British Transport Police received no mutual aid.
While the Metropolitan Police refused to answer our FOI, to date four other forces have said they provided £1.36 million worth of support to the force, while the small City of London police spent £461,000 itself, indicating the Met’s costs could have been very significant.
Between them, London Fire Brigade and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said they spent £1.14 million, of which £741,000 was reimbursed by the Home Office. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has not responded to the FOI request, but the Scottish Ambulance Service put its costs at £217,000, all of which has been refunded, it said – although it is unclear by whom. Over 270 paramedics and other staff were deployed to public events and ceremonies across Scotland.
The searchable table below will allow you to browse the data we have gathered from each emergency service, or look up what the cost was for your local police service. If you can't see the table, you can open it in a new window here.
What did emergency services spend money on?
The vast majority of police forces that responded to our request refused to disclose what they had spent money on during the Queen’s funeral and mourning period, citing national security concerns or fears that doing so would compromise their law enforcement capabilities.
Many argued disclosing how money is spent during significant national events would help terrorists or other criminals learn more about security arrangements, and aid plans for attacks. Greater Manchester Police refused to tell us how much it had spent at all on these grounds, stating “the information may be used to identify what resources may be allocated to
events, operations or personnel movements”.
Labour for a Republic said it was important for taxpayer-funded bodies to be transparent. “It is, after all, our money they are spending,” Mr Ritchie said.
Extra salary costs because of the extra bank holiday or overtime payments were two major expenses cited by the emergency services that responded to our request – the first of which will not have been included within the Home Office’s estimate. Some forces disclosed how officers who would not otherwise have been working had to be drafted in, either to provide enhanced support locally or to replace officers who had been sent away to other parts of the country on mutual aid. Such officers would have been paid at a premium rate on the day of the funeral.
West Yorkshire Police also indicated some of its costs came from policing local events related to the mourning period.
The London and Royal Berkshire fire brigades outlined extra duties they had performed in relation to the funeral, including deploying specialist decontamination and terrorist units and doing fire safety inspections on buildings. We reported in more detail on the London Fire Brigade’s response earlier this year.
What was the total cost of the Queen’s funeral?
NationalWorld also asked a range of government departments about the cost of the Queen’s funeral. Most refused to answer, including the Ministry of Defence, Foreign Office, and House of Commons, saying that HM Treasury had been gathering the same data and would be publishing it in the near future.
The Home Office initially told us it held no information on the cost of the funeral – despite the fact many police forces and fire brigades had told us they had received reimbursements from the Home Office. It is unclear why it has now been able to disclose that it provided £75 million to police and fire services.
This prompted concern from Labour for a Republic, with Secretary Ken Ritchie saying it was “alarming” the Home Office claimed not to know how much the funeral and related events had cost.
The City of Edinburgh Council said its Operation Unicorn costs came in at £608,998, and it has asked for £566,998 to be reimbursed by the Scottish government – although there is no guarantee this will be provided in full.
We also revealed earlier this year that the cost to Transport for London (TfL) had come in at almost £9 million, including £1.6 million spent on sprucing up road and bus networks or adapting streets for ceremonial events.
A Home Office spokesperson said: "Forces involved in operations for the funeral of Her Late Majesty were able to claim their additional costs from the Home Office as is normal practice for extraordinary large events of this nature. Exact cost data will be published in due course.”