The taxpayer will pick up an £80,000 bill for a week of hospitality at Holyrood Palace hosted by Scotland’s largest private landowner.
The Duke of Buccleuch, who is one of Scotland’s richest men, is to stay at Her Majesty’s official residence while attending the General Assembly of the Kirk as the Lord High Commissioner.
Some £80,000 of public money will be spent on catering alone during his eight-day visit, where he will be “treated like The Queen”.
Neil Findlay, the Labour MSP, said: “The Duke of Buccleuch is one of the wealthiest individuals in the country.
“He is the one of the last people who should be enjoying free digs and a lavish £80,000 hospitality budget at Holyrood Palace.
“I would rather see the extensive palace accommodation and such a large sum of money opened up to the increasing number of homeless people we see shivering on the streets of the capital.”
The Queen honoured the Duke with a Knight of the Thistle last month, and appointed him Lord High Commissioner, which makes him her personal representative at the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly.
The annual gathering, which the Lord High Commissioner attends on The Queen’s behalf as an observer, starts on Saturday, May 19 – the same day as the Royal wedding.
The Scottish Government contract for the “provision of catering services to the Lord High Commissioner” covers an eight-day period and is valued at £80,000.
It will pay for lunches, dinners, receptions and other events hosted by the Lord High Commissioner during his stay.
A source close to the church said he will be “treated like the Queen” while he is there.
The Duke and his family are worth £213m, making him the 33rd wealthiest person in Scotland, according to last year’s Sunday Times Rich List.
He owns swathes of land across the UK and among his seats is Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries & Galloway.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There is a long-standing arrangement in place for the Scottish Government to contribute to the costs incurred by the Lord High Commissioner, who attends the General Assembly on behalf of HM The Queen.
“The contract relates to events and engagements hosted by the Lord High Commissioner at the Palace of Holyroodhouse throughout the period of the General Assembly.”
Last year, Princess Anne was the Lord High Commissioner and held receptions, lunches and dinners at the palace over seven days, during which she attended events across the country.
A Palace of Holyroodhouse spokeswoman said the Duke was chosen for the role because of his “well-known contribution to Scottish public life”, including his involvement in the charity St Andrew’s First Aid.
“The Lord High Commissioner fulfils an important function, representing and maintaining the historic links between the Church of Scotland and the Sovereign,” she added.
“As The Queen’s personal representative at the annual General Assembly, the post-holder routinely resides at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and organises a number of ceremonial and related events at the palace.
“This year, as in previous years, the Scottish Government will contribute to associated costs including the catering services contract.”
The Church of Scotland declined to comment.
A spokesman for the Duke of Buccleuch was approached for comment.