Buckingham Palace set to undergo its biggest refurbishment since World War II

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Buckingham Palace set to undergo its biggest refurbishment since World War II

Real Estate

- Monday, 21 November 2016

BUCKINGHAM Palace is set to get a A$621 million overhaul to replace leaky pipes and fire-risk cables under a taxpayer-funded plan unveiled that would see Queen Elizabeth II forced to move rooms.

The works are to start next year and last until 2027 and will see solar panels installed on the roof of the palace as well as more space for public visits in its biggest refurbishment since World War II.

The government is asking parliament to approve the refurbishment by increasing the share the royals receive from the Crown Estate, which manages royal properties, to 25 per cent from 15 per cent over the period.

A water pressure gauge in Buckingham Palace in London. Officials have said that the palace is to undergo a major ten year refurbishment, Picture: AFP PHOTO / BUCKINGHAM PALACE

A water pressure gauge in Buckingham Palace in London. Officials have said that the palace is to undergo a major ten year refurbishment, Picture: AFP PHOTO / BUCKINGHAM PALACESource:AFP

The queen and her husband Prince Philip would remain in residence but would have to temporarily change rooms, while some of the 37 permanent staff who currently live in the palace would have to move out.

A view of a cracked pillar by the front gates at Buckingham Palace. Picture: AFP

A view of a cracked pillar by the front gates at Buckingham Palace. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

“This palace is very much part of our DNA,” Tony Johnstone-Burt, Master of the Queen’s Household, told reporters at a briefing in a palace drawing room.

He warned of “significant risk of electric shocks and fire” from 60-year-old cables, as well as “potential leakage from lead pipes” that could damage paintings, adding that the palace boilers dated back 30 years.

Queen Elizabeth II will have to switch rooms during the renovations. Picture: Getty

Queen Elizabeth II will have to switch rooms during the renovations. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

A palace ‘fit for purpose’

The last major overhaul of the palace was carried out shortly after the war to repair damage from German bombing and the new plan is aimed at extending the life of the building by another 50 years.

The project is planned to start in April and royal officials said they expected MPs would approve it by the end of March at the latest, following a recommendation from the government for it to go ahead.

“It is only right we ensure Buckingham Palace is fit for purpose,” said David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury, calling the proposed work “urgent”.

Old Vulcanised Indian Rubber mains cables which are considered to be a significant fire risk and are in need of urgent replacement are seen at Buckingham Palace on May 17, 2016. Picture: Buckingham Palace via Getty Images

Old Vulcanised Indian Rubber mains cables which are considered to be a significant fire risk and are in need of urgent replacement are seen at Buckingham Palace on May 17, 2016. Picture: Buckingham Palace via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

To give an idea of the scale of the project, royal officials said the palace had 775 rooms, 760 windows and 30,000 square metres of floorboards that would have to be taken up — equivalent to three and a half football pitches.

The 28-year-old Trade Yard Electrical Panel in Buckingham Palace in London. Picture: AFP PHOTO / BUCKINGHAM PALACE

The 28-year-old Trade Yard Electrical Panel in Buckingham Palace in London. Picture: AFP PHOTO / BUCKINGHAM PALACESource:AFP

The palace traces its origins back to the 17th century and has been vastly expanded since then.

It now receives around half a million paying visitors during public visits held in the summer.

The queen spends around a third of the year in the palace, hosting garden parties and ceremonies.

Some of the ground drainage which is in a mixture of lead and cast iron pipework is seen at Buckingham Palace on July 21, 2014. Picture: Buckingham Palace via Getty Images

Some of the ground drainage which is in a mixture of lead and cast iron pipework is seen at Buckingham Palace on July 21, 2014. Picture: Buckingham Palace via Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The queen is “fully aware” of the project and “completely supportive”, a royal official said.

Much of the building work would be out of the public eye and temporary accommodation for 125 people would be built in the garden to house staff and builders.

A guardsman stands to attention at Buckingham Palace in central London. Picture: AFP

Royal traditions such as Changing of the Guard and the Trooping of the Colour parade to celebrate the queen’s birthday would continue as usual.

Windsor Castle, another royal residence outside London, was hit by a devastating fire in 1992 in what the queen called her “annus horribilis”.

Source: http://www.news.com.au/finance/real-estate/buckingham-palace-set-to-undergo-its-biggest-refurbishment-since-world-war-ii/news-story/e5b6d1b99cb69d29631e87c38bcf4e5d