A vote in Parliament earlier today has approved the £369 million needed for the repair and refurbishment of Buckingham Palace, meaning the 10-year plan can begin.
MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of altering the Sovereign Support Grant for a decade to allow for necessary – and overdue – works to the Sovereign’s main residence.
464 votes were in favour of the change, to 56 against, giving a majority of 408. Two Labour MPs and 46 SNP MPs opposed the move.
Last year, a review by the Royal Trustees – which include the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Keeper of the Privy Purse, Sir Alan Reid – agreed that funding for the refurbishment should come from an amendment to the SSG.
Instead of taking 15% of Crown Estate profits, the SSG will be calculated on 25% of this figure, until 2028 when it will be brought back down. It works out to a 66% increase of money to the Privy Purse – which is the Royal Household’s account not The Queen’s – over the 10 years.
The initial cost for work was estimated to be in the region of £150 million, but this turned out to less than half of the accurate reading, as more problems arose when Buckingham Palace was surveyed. The palace has not been renovated since the 1950s, when The Queen took the throne.
“There is a risk of serious damage to the Palace and the precious Royal Collection items it houses from, amongst other scenarios, fire and water damage,” a statement said at the time of the estimation last year.
Ageing cables, lead pipes, wiring and boilers will be replaced; a ceiling even collapsed in 2015 due to neglect.
Work is set to begin next month, and the palace will remain in use throughout, including for the summer opening to tourists. When it comes to Her Majesty’s private apartments, she will move into another wing of the building until works are complete.
Petitions which demand The Queen pays for the refurbishment herself are ludicrous; as a governmental building which hosts State Visits, receptions which recognise charity work and achievements in the UK, it is the Government’s responsibility to pay for the upkeep.
Until now, funds have been kept very low for the running of the Royal Household – which includes travel and upkeep of Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Frogmore – meaning works such as updating the old electricity system and patching holes in the roof have not been carried out to the iconic Grade I listed building as and when necessary.