The Royal Household has been accused by the Public Accounts Committee of giving some of its top earners a "heck of an increase" while many staff had their pay frozen last year.
Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Privy Purse, was grilled by the committee's MPs during a hearing which examined the Sovereign Grant, the new funding formula for the monarchy.
Commenting about the rises in salaries, while staff earning above £21,000 were given a pay freeze in 2012-13 , the committee's chairman Margaret Hodge told Sir Alan: "Was it really sensible for three out of the five members of the Lord Chamberlain's committee, all earning over £100,000, to give themselves extra money when they were expecting staff on £21,000 not to have extra money."
Ms Hodge added: "It strikes me as being not a very good message for a public organisation to freeze the wages of its staff, from a very low level - from £21,000, and then to see the top management award themselves (a rise)... I have no doubt you can justify them but...seems to me not a very good message at a time of constraints."
Sir Alan stressed that his pay of £180,000 was frozen during the last financial year, as was the salary of the Queen's private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt, who warns £146,000 a year.
Mike Stevens, the Queen's deputy treasurer, told the MPs that Lieutenant Colonel Sir Andrew Ford, known as the Comptroller and head of the Lord Chamberlain's office which organises ceremonial events like investitures and garden parties, saw his salary increase last year by £7,000 to £116,000 because he took on the extra responsibility of royal travel.
He added: "Underpinning these increases, over the five years since 2007-08, the household's pay bill has reduced by 6% in real terms."
Ms Hodge added: "They just went up, they're not massive amounts on what they earn, but if you're on £21,000 another £2,000 is a 10% increase...going up from 109 (thousand) to 116 (thousand) - £7,000 is a heck of an increase."
Sir Alan told the MPs that around 39% of the Royal estate was below "target condition", and bringing it back up to standard was likely to cost more than £50 million.
He said they were hoping to make "major inroads" on the issues over the next decade.
The boilers at Buckingham Palace had not been replaced for around 60 years. They would be changed within three to five years, with the bill likely to be between £500,000 and £1 million, he added.
However, Tory member Richard Bacon pointed out that the repair backlog had increased significantly from some £32 million four years ago.