Despite another challenging year for the tourism industry, the Royal Collection Trust was able to make substantial investments in visitor services across all sites, as recorded in its Annual Report 2003-2004. Over the past twelve months, guided and audio tours have been introduced, education and family programmes expanded, and the first catering facility at an official residence of The Queen opened at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
With the outbreak of the Iraq War and the far-reaching effects of the SARS virus at the beginning of the reporting period, it was clear that the Royal Collection's exceptional performance of 2002/3 would be difficult to match. In Golden Jubilee year, against the backdrop of the considerable downturn in overseas tourism to the UK, the official residences of The Queen saw an extraordinary 30% rise in visitors. At £20.6m, gross income for 2003/4 was below the record £24m of 2002/3 but well above the £16.7m total in 2001/2. After funding the new visitor facilities outlined above, the Royal Collection's trading subsidiary, Royal Collection Enterprises, contributed £3.7m (2002/3: £6.4m, 2001/2: £3.9m) to the Royal Collection Trust for curatorial, conservation and educational work, exhibitions, loans, and capital projects.
All 47,000 tickets for the guided tours of Clarence House, the official London residence of The Prince of Wales, were sold out before the first day of opening in August 2003, and the guidebook received a Museum Trading Association award. The exhibition Ceremony and Celebration: Coronation Day 1953 helped generate a total of 315,000 visitors to the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace, only 6% down on Golden Jubilee year and above the 2001 figure.
In 2003/4 the absence of overseas visitors was particularly marked at Windsor Castle, where visitor numbers ended the year at 881,000 (2002/3: 958,000, 2001/2: 880,000), at the Palace of Holyroodhouse 212,000 (2002/3: 232,000, 2001/2: 209,000), and at the Royal Mews 550 per day (2002/3: 590, 2001/2: 502). Encouragingly, all the above sites have witnessed a significant and sustained rise in numbers in 2004, reflecting the signs of a recovery in tourism.
During 2003 complimentary audio tours were introduced at both Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, with special interactive versions for families. Launched in October 2003, the new group tour at Windsor Castle includes a visit to the Great Kitchen, 'the oldest, substantially unchanged and still working kitchen in the country'. Since March 2004, visitors to the Royal Mews can join a guided tour to learn more about the collection of historic carriages and coaches, and the preparations for major ceremonial occasions. The new café at Holyroodhouse, which opened in April this year, has proved to be a welcome new facility for visitors to the Palace and, with direct access from the street, a destination in its own right.
As part of the Royal Collection's expansion of educational services and family activities, Schools Co-ordinators were appointed at both Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Children from local schools and community groups in Edinburgh took part in a programme of workshops during the exhibition King of the World: The Padshahnama, An Imperial Mughal Manuscript. At Windsor Castle over 350 pupils attended the Victorian Christmas arts-based workshop.
The Royal Collection Trust Annual Report 2003-2004 is available as a pdf file.Click here to view the report. For further information, please contact Public Relations and Marketing, the Royal Collection, telephone: 020-7839 1377, e-mail: email@example.com.
Notes to Editors
1. The Royal Collection is held in trust by The Queen as Sovereign for her successors and for the Nation, and is administered by the Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. It is the only collection of major national importance to receive no Government funding or public subsidy. Monies raised from admissions and merchandise are dedicated to the conservation, display and interpretation of the Royal Collection and to projects that increase public access.
2. Royal Collection Enterprises is responsible for the management and financial administration of access by the public to the official residences of The Queen. It also generates revenue through the development of retail merchandise, publishing and other commercial initiatives.