London: The public cost of the British monarchy rose by £2.4 million last year to £35.7 million ($60.6 million, 44.5 million euros), equivalent to 56 pence per person, palace accounts revealed on Thursday.
Property maintenance accounted for £13.3 million of the sovereign grant -- the part of the public purse used to fund the official duties of the monarchy -- including £3.4 million to "completely re-service" Kensington Palace, the family home of Prince William, Kate and their son George.
The 20-room apartment, number 1A, reportedly required a "complete refit" to make it habitable, including the removal of asbestos and the installation of running water in some parts.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as William and Kate are formally known, paid for furniture and fittings.
"Some of the fit-out we felt should be paid for privately. The Cambridges have been extremely sensitive to the fact that public funds were paying for a lot of this work," an aide said.
The accounts revealed that about £1.1 million was also spent on the apartment last year, bringing the total to £4.5 million.
In battling a "backlog" of restoration works, the royal family carried out a total of 133 projects across the estate, according to Buckingham Palace accounts.
Meanwhile, royal travel cost the British public £4.2 million in 2012/13, down from £4.5 million a year earlier.
Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, was responsible for £1 million of this, including £255,000 to attend Nelson Mandela`s funeral in December.
The prince, the eldest son of 88-year-old Queen Elizabeth II, received a record total of £21.7 million from his private Duchy of Cornwall income and taxpayer funding.
The Duchy income accounted for the vast majority of the sum, netting £19.5 million, a rise of 2.4 percent on last year.
Under a new funding arrangement agreed in 2011, the sovereign grant is set at 15 percent of the profits of the royal estate from two years previously. The rest of the profits go into the public coffers.
Counting London`s famous Regent Street and Windsor Park among its properties, as well as almost the entire seabed around Britain, the estate is now worth more than £8 billion.
Iraq urges parliament to start government formation
Baghdad, June 26 (IANS) The Iraqi presidency has urged the country`s newly elected parliament to start the process of formation of a new government July 1, media reported Thursday.
"The presidency issued a decree calling for the Council of Representatives to convene Tuesday, July 1," Xinhua reported citing Iraqiya channel.
The first session will be attended by 328 parliament members who were elected April 30.
The office of Vice President Khudair al-Khzaie Wednesday said in a statement that "the presidency is committed to a democratic path of the political process of the country".
The session was called amidst worsening security conditions that began less than two weeks ago when militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) launched an offensive that led to the debacle of Iraqi security forces, and loss of a large part of the country`s northern and western territories.