The Royal Collection Trust faced operating losses of £15million last year but has begun its financial recovery, its annual accounts showed.

Visitor numbers to the Queen’s official residences increased by more than half a million to 737,000 in 2021/22 from 155,000 in 2020/21, but were still well below pre-pandemic figures of 3 .3 million people per year.

Retail sales of £10.7m remained weak from almost £20m two years ago, but improved from £3.8m at the height of the Covid crisis.

Revenue was boosted by the public buying the wide range of official Platinum Jubilee memorabilia, the trust said.

Official porcelain produced by the Royal Collection Trust for the Platinum Jubilee (Royal Collection Trust/HM Queen Elizabeth II/PA)

Growth in online sales contributed £4.3 million to retail sales, compared to £900,000 before the pandemic.

Tim Knox, Director of the Royal Collection, said: “This year, as the nation emerged from the coronavirus pandemic, the Royal Collection Trust’s recovery from the effects of multiple lockdowns began in earnest.

“Of course, there is still a long way to go before Royal Collection Trust has fully recovered from the pandemic.

“Visitor numbers are still well below 2019 levels, and it will take some time before international tourism fully recovers.”

The gradual easing of restrictions from April 2021 has allowed the public to return to Windsor and other royal buildings, although social distancing is still in place.

Platinum Jubilee: Coronation of the Queen – Windsor Castle
The Queen’s coronation robe on display at Windsor Castle (Aaron Chown/PA)

Buckingham Palace’s traditional summer opening, which resumes this month, has been canceled in 2021 for the second consecutive year, but picnickers have been allowed to purchase tickets for self-guided tours of the garden.

Cost-cutting measures including tight budget controls, staff restructuring and previous major layoffs have helped the trust cut spending this year to £39m from £42.9m.

With sales, donations and other income amounting to £24m, the trust’s deficit was £15m, up from £36m the previous year.

A return to an operating surplus is forecast for 2022/23, due to increased visitor numbers, the Palace’s full summer opening and the impact of the Queen’s Jubilee in June.

Mr Knox said: ‘The surpluses we expect to achieve over the next few years will be essential for us to repay the bank loans we have taken out to stay afloat.

The trust had previously borrowed more than £50m to ensure its survival.

The Royal Collection preserves and exhibits the vast collection of royal objects ranging from works of art to furniture held in trust by the Queen for her heirs and the nation.