How much will the Queen’s funeral cost?

16 September 2022
What was claimed

The Queen’s funeral will cost around £8 million.

Our verdict

We’ve not been able to find evidence to support this figure, but royal funerals have cost roughly this much in the past.

What was claimed

The Queen’s funeral will cost around £6 billion.

Our verdict

This figure could represent the cost to the UK economy of two bank holidays, for the funeral and the coronation of King Charles. However it almost certainly does not reflect the direct costs of these events, as it is hundreds of times larger than the cost of any other recent royal funeral.

There has been speculation in the media, and on social media, about the likely cost of the Queen’s funeral, which will be paid for by the state.

None of the figures we’ve seen appear to be based on a thorough and reliable calculation. They also vary enormously—from about £8 million to about £6 billion.

While we could not find a reliable estimate for the cost of the Queen’s funeral, we’ve looked at the best evidence we can find for large public funerals in the past. They seem to have cost up to about £8 million in current prices.

The Queen’s funeral is likely to be larger and may therefore be more expensive, but a cost of billions seems far too high, unless we also include the cost of the coronation of King Charles, and the economic impact of bank holidays on both days, which is very uncertain.

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What do state funerals cost?

The UK’s last state funeral was held for Sir Winston Churchill in 1965. Usually state funerals are reserved for the monarch, but rare exceptions can be made for other distinguished people.

State funerals are paid for by the state, which covers a wide range of costs including the event itself, along with associated military, policing, administrative and other expenses.

In 1965, the Times reported that Churchill’s funeral cost £48,000, which is roughly the equivalent of around £1 million in 2022 prices, using the Treasury’s GDP deflators (which we’ll apply throughout this article).

However, the Queen’s funeral is likely to be much more expensive, because we know that some more recent “ceremonial” funerals have cost several million pounds. (A ceremonial funeral is a slightly lower-ranking public funeral that is reserved for other distinguished people and members of the royal family.)

Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997 reportedly cost £4-5 million, according to estimates from civil servants at the time, as reported in an article in the Times in 2005. In today’s money, that’s the equivalent of roughly £7-8 million.

The cost of the Queen Mother’s funeral in 2002 has been estimated at around £5.4 million, or around £8.4 million today.

Baroness Thatcher’s funeral in 2013 cost about £3.2 million (about £3.8 million today). The City of London Corporation and Baroness Thatcher’s estate paid for some additional costs.  

Prince Philip’s funeral was limited by Covid-19 restrictions at the time and was therefore probably less expensive than other recent royal funerals.

The Metropolitan Police has told Full Fact that it does not know how much the Queen’s funeral will cost to police until after it has happened.

The wedding of the new Prince and Princess of Wales in 2011 cost the state around £7.2 million in police time (about £8.9 million today), but the wedding itself was not paid for by the state. Policing for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in 2018 cost about £3.4 million (about £3.8 million today).

It has been widely reported that the Queen’s coronation cost £1.57 million in 1953, which would amount to tens of millions now, but we’ve not been able to find the source of this figure, or estimate how much of the cost was borne by the state. It has also been reported that King Charles wants his own coronation to be less expensive.   

What about the bank holiday?

The government declared 19 September a bank holiday, because it “wants to help give as many people as possible the opportunity on the day of the State Funeral to mark Her Majesty’s passing and commemorate Her reign.”

The national bank holiday may itself substantially increase the direct cost of the Queen’s funeral if it means that police working on the day must be paid double rates for overtime.

This was the case when 29 April 2011 was declared a bank holiday to mark the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. We’ve asked the Metropolitan Police whether it will apply for the Queen’s funeral too.

The bank holiday may have other indirect costs which could be far larger. In 2020, the Centre for Economics and Business Research estimated that a bank holiday in October that year could boost industries such as hospitality and tourism by about £0.5 billion, while at the same time costing roughly £1.8 billion through the loss of productivity from people taking the day off—although “most of that would have been recovered within a month”.

This was a specific estimate for October 2020, however, in the aftermath of the first pandemic lockdown. Not all bank holidays, or the circumstances in which they happen, are the same. If people do not use a bank holiday to spend more money, or if the economy is already working at full capacity, the benefits may be smaller and less of the costs may be caught up afterwards.

A government estimate for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, put the cost to the economy of the extra bank holiday on 5 June at roughly £1.2 billion, although the range was wide, from benefiting the economy by £1.1 billion to costing the economy £3.6 billion. (All figures would be higher in 2022 prices.)

Another government calculation for the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday, on 3 June 2022, estimated that it would cost the economy around £2.4 billion.

There may also be other associated costs of a bank holiday that are hard to quantify, for instance if it leads to postponed medical treatment.

Image courtesy of Taras Young

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