Queen Elizabeth might have to leave crumbling Buckingham Palace

Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:51am EDT
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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Queen Elizabeth might have to move out of Buckingham Palace for an extended period under plans being considered to allow builders to carry out millions of pounds of repairs to the crumbling building.

The 300-year-old palace needs about 150 million pounds ($240 million) worth of work to fix the roofs and replace old wiring, ancient decorating and dated plumbing, a royal source said on Wednesday.

Although no decision is imminent as funding has yet to be agreed, the royals who use the palace as a London base, including the queen and some of her children, might have to move out as well if that is the most cost-effective solution.

"It is one of a number of potential options as we take forward the essential maintenance of the palace," the royal source said.

If she does have to move out, the queen has several official residences to choose from, including Windsor Castle west of London, Sandringham House in Norfolk, Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh and Balmoral Castle further north in Scotland.

Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms including 52 royal and guest bedrooms and 188 bedrooms for staff. It was bought by King George III for his wife Queen Charlotte and has served as the official London residence of Britain's monarchs since 1837.

In January 2014, lawmakers accused the royal household of neglecting repairs at the palace, saying its electrical wiring and boilers were at least 60 years old and it had asbestos that needed to be removed.

"We will look carefully at all the options and the cost implications before taking any decisions," a palace spokeswoman said.   Continued...

Guardsmen stand to attention in front of Buckingham Palace during the State Opening of Parliament in central London, Britain, May 27, 2015.  REUTERS/Peter Nicholls