Queen On The Move
Buckingham Palace is Falling Down And The Queen's Moving Out
Buckingham Palace is crumbling, buckets are used to catch rainwater and lead roofs need replacing. No surprise the Queen is considering moving out.
It’s not quite a tear-down, but the place sure needs some work.
Buckingham Palace has been infested with mice, the roofs and walls are full of asbestos buckets are used to catch rainwater and Princess Anne only narrowly avoided being killed by a falling chunk of masonry when she was stepping out of a car to visit her mother a few years back.
So it is high time that Buckingham Palace – which has not even been redecorated since the Queen came to the throne over 60 years ago - was given a thorough refurb.
And palace sources are now saying that one of the options being looked at is that the Queen may move out of her London base altogether for up to 18 months while she gets the builders in.
If this happens, it will be the first time the Queen will have left the Palace for any length of time since the Second World War when she was evacuated to Windsor Castle with her sister Princess Margaret.
If she did move out again for a spell, she would probably choose to make Windsor, which is only a 40 minute drive from London, her base again. The Queen already carries out some investitures and banquets for State visits in Windsor Castle, so that would be the most obvious alternative home for the Monarch.
Plus, she likes it there, it is near Andrew and she can go riding in the Park.
Official sources say that current estimates for the work – which includes re-wiring, re-plumbing and replacing lead roofs the size of several tennis courts, among a multitude of other tasks – are around the £150 million mark.
The work at Buckingham Palace (and indeed other royal palaces; thirty-nine percent of Royal buildings, which the Royal Household is duty-bound to maintain, are in an unacceptable state, the British Public Accounts Committee found in 2014) is long overdue, and has been put on the back burner for years in the hope of a sudden windfall.
But, it appears, the work can be delayed no longer.
The proposed building work was heavily flagged with the publication of the royal accounts on Wednesday – which purported to show that the Monarchy only costs 56 pence per person (but does not include the costs of security, policing or their massive private incomes, which some critics say multiply the cost of the Royals by a factor of eight).
While £2.1million has been spent on repairs within the palace in the last year, including £300,000 on asbestos removal, this is just a drop in the ocean of the total sums required, sources said, in what looked distinctly like a softening up exercise preceding a massive raid on the public purse, as it would take the Queen decades to pay for the renovations from her annual ‘salary’.
As well as relocating The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, the renovations would mean that all of the Royal Household's 426 staff would also need to be moved while the work was carried out.
The £150 million estimate is based on the size and age of the building, but a more detailed survey of the palace will be undertaken to produce a precise costing.
The ancient piping system includes boilers dating from before the Second World War.
Royal sources drew parallels with massive renovations – estimated at an eye-watering £3-£4 billion – needed for the famous British parliament building, officially known as the Palace of Westminster. MPs are expected to relocate to the Lords when the 18-month project gets the go-ahead.
In comparison to what parliament is asking for, the Queen’s demands are small beer.
A royal source said that the comparison with the Palace of Westminster was “important” because it highlighted “the physical and financial challenges of maintaining landmark historic buildings”.