Queen Elizabeth II may have to move out of Buckingham Palace during the much-needed repair and maintenance work to her 18th century iconic residence costing a whopping 150 million pounds, royal officials said on Wednesday. They said the 89-year-old British monarch's official London residence needs a total overhaul such as rewiring, new plumbing, asbestos removing, and redecoration.
The last time the building, which dates back to the 18th century, had any renovation work was in 1952.
"One option is for the palace to be vacated; we're getting experts to look at these scenarios and cost them for us," a palace official said at a briefing on the Queen's royal accounts. "The initial estimate for the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace looks like 150 million pounds," he said.
However, some campaigners in favour of an elected head of state have called for Buckingham Palace in the heart of London to be turned into a museum for the people of Britain. "If the taxpayer is footing the bill, the taxpayer should reap the reward. Buckingham Palace already houses one of the world's greatest art collections--– so let's see it handed back to the people," said Graham Smith, chief executive of one such group called Republic.
The Crown Estate, which owns property on behalf of the British monarch, returned record profits of 285 million pounds to the taxpayer last year -- up 6.7 per cent.
The Queen is paid 15 per cent of the Crown Estate's profits by the UK government, including from the Crown Estate in Scotland, under the Sovereign Grant formula launched in 2011.
The latest accounts show that the Queen last year received 37.9 million pounds from the grant, of which she spent 35.7 million pounds.
That figure will increase to 40.05 million pounds this year and is expected to rise to 42.8 million pounds next year. The figure does not include the cost of providing security for the royal family.
The Crown Estate's annual results show its capital value is at a historic high of 11.5 billion pounds, up 16.1 per cent. There has been a 21 per cent increase in travel costs, which rose from 4.2 million pounds in 2013-14 to 5.1 million pounds in 2014-15.
The Queen, is currently touring Germany with husband Prince Philip, spends a third of the year hosting events at Buckingham Palace.
Sir Alan Reid, keeper of the Privy Purse, said: "Over the coming years, the maintenance of the estate and in particular Buckingham Palace, will present a significant financial challenge."
The proposal comes after it had emerged earlier this month that British MPs may have to leave the Palace of Westminster, which houses the UK Parliament, to allow an estimated 3-billion pounds project to modernise the structure.
Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters