Campaigners have accused the Queen of a failure of leadership and showing contempt for her staff, following news that palace workers are balloting on whether to go on strike.

Graham Smith, head of campaign group Republic, said today:

"It is a failure of leadership on the part of the Queen that despite receiving close to £300m a year in public subsidy she continues to pay staff so badly."

"The Queen as head of state has a responsibility to set a higher standard, to lead by example.  Paying hard working staff such low wages while expecting them to do so much more than their jobs demand shows an appalling contempt."

"It is typical of the royals that they continue to demand more money for themselves, spending millions on refurbishing their homes, yet they exploit the goodwill of those ordinary hard working people that keep the palaces running."

"It’s time the Queen handed over the running of the palaces to the government, so staff have the opportunity to call to account those who are paying them and have a greater chance of demanding a fair, living wage."

The annual cost to the taxpayer is close to £300m, not the £35m reported by the palace.  See for details.