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Queen cancels staff Christmas party as austerity bites

LONDON, Oct 14 – Queen Elizabeth II has called off this year\’s Christmas party at Buckingham Palace to show restraint as Britain braces for a wave of austerity cutbacks.

The biennial December party for around 600 royal staff, paid for out of the queen\’s private money, costs around 50,000 pounds (80,000 dollars, 57,000 euros), The Sun newspaper said.

"Given the current economic climate, it was thought that it was appropriate for the household to show restraint," a palace spokesman told AFP on Thursday.

"The Queen is acutely aware of the difficult economic circumstances facing the country."

The government is to announce its spending review on October 20, which is expected to slash government department funding in a bid to rein in Britain\’s record deficit.

"We\’re all devastated as it\’s a great night when everyone lets their hair down," The Sun quoted one worker as saying.

"The royals mix freely with servants — it\’s normal to see the Queen dancing with a footman or (her husband) Prince Philip waltzing with a maid.

"The champagne flows like water and you feel your hard work has been appreciated. This won\’t go down well."

This year the royals have had to accept the freezing of the "civil list", covering the expenses of the queen and Prince Philip.

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The amount was set in 1990 at 7.9 million pounds per year and has not gone up since.

It is paid in return for the profits from the Crown Estate, the sovereign\’s property portfolio. The surplus was 210.7 million pounds for the year ending March 2010.

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