Dutch State paid double for palace furniture maintenance for 40 years: report

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Noordeinde Palace in The Hague (Photo: Wikifrits / Wikimedia Commons). (Noordeinde Palace in The Hague (Photo: Wikifrits / Wikimedia Commons))

Update 12:20 p.m. - Updated the article to add a comment by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. 

For the past 40 years the Dutch government has been maintaining almost all the furniture in the Noordeinde, Huis ten Bosch, Het Loo,  and Soestdijk palaces, but also paid the head of state allowance to maintain the furniture, NRC reports based on its own research. 

This means that the government paid for maintenance of the palaces' furniture twice for 40 years long, involving a total amount of some 10 million euros, according to the newspaper. This year around 320 thousand euros was transferred for palace furniture maintenance. The amount forms part of the 4.9 million euros that King Willem-Alexander receives for "personnel and material expenses".  

Former Prime Minister Dries van Agt started buying the furniture in the  palaces from the Royal in 1978, arguing that the maintenance costs were too high, NRC writes. According to Van Agt, the payments to the head of state should then have decreased. Why this never happened is unclear. The Dutch government now owns almost all the palace furniture. The purchase made the government responsible for maintaining the furniture, but the head of state still received compensation for doing so every year. Since the transaction, the Royal family has been using the furniture on loan free of charge.

Government information service Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst refused to answer NRC's questions about the maintenance and compensation thereof. The service only said that the inventory of the palaces was bought by the government because the furniture in Noordeinde and Huis ten Bosch was in poor condition and the government wanted to restore it to give the palaces a "historically meaningful design". 

In a reaction to NOS, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the exact payment of maintenance and restoration on the content of the palaces is "terribly complicated", but he does not think that the Royals received double compensation for it. He is convinced that King Willem-Alexander, former Queen Beatrix, and her mother Juliana did nothing wrong, let alone deliberately. 

The Prime Minister blames the confusion on the complexity of the system chosen in the 1970s - all restorations are paid for by one fund, only complicated or large restorations are paid for separately. He sees no reason to investigate the matter further, according to the broadcaster. "I don't think anything is wrong."

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