Speculation had been rife as to whether The Queen would stay at Buckingham Palace as it undergoes necessary repairs, but it has been announced today that the Sovereign will remain in her central London home as the work is carried out.
It has long been known the Palace was in a state of disrepair, and estimates then put the work at £150 million pounds. Following a more detailed look at the situation, the bill has been estimated at £369 million, with the funding to be cleared by Parliament shortly.
Officials said an independent, specialist report had concluded that without urgent work “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”.
Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms, including 19 state rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, and it is likely almost all need some attention, as little has changed since the redecoration of 1952.
These huge and essential renovations are to be funded from Her Majesty’s Sovereign Support Grant, which she is awarded each year to fund official travel, hospitality (e.g. State Visits) and for the upkeep of her official residences (i.e. excluding Balmoral and Sandringham).
However, despite increasing amounts awarded to the Privy Purse each year thanks to an increase in Crown Estate income, The Queen will receive a 66% ‘pay rise’ to fund the repairs: instead of receiving 15% of profits per year, she will now receive 25% for the 10 years the work is taking place. When it is finished in 2027, the grant should return to its normal amount.
The work will include the replacement of lead piping, old electric cables, boilers, as well as more structural work like that of the State Dining Room. This was closed earlier in the year as the ceiling began to collapse, putting members of the Royal Household and items from the Royal Collection in danger. Other additions to Buckingham Palace include solar panels on the roof, to reduce bills in the long term.
There had been suggestions that The Queen would relocate to Windsor Castle for the duration of the extensive works, but this is not to be. She will simply move out of her apartment when that is refitted. Other Royals who stay at the palace will do the same, but for some staff, temporary accommodation will be built in the gardens.
Work will begin in April with the most urgent repairs first, and all annual functions held at Buckingham Palace will continue, such as garden parties, investitures and receptions.
Following these more important jobs, the palace will be worked on wing-by-wing, which will free up rooms to enable for a functioning court to remain.
Tony Johnstone-Burt, Master of the Queen’s Household, said: “On completion of the work, we’ll have a Palace fit for purpose until 2067. The programme addresses parts of the structure you can’t see from the outside: the plumbing, electrics and other essential building services which have gone six decades without a comprehensive upgrade.
“We are convinced that by making this investment in Buckingham Palace now we can avert a much more costly and potentially catastrophic building failure in the years to come.”