Members of the royal family including the Duke of York, Princess Royal and the Earl and Countess of Wessex will have to move out of Buckingham Palace while it undergoes a raft of repairs. The East Wing, whose façade features the world-famous balcony on which the Queen and her family appears each year, will be the focus of essential maintenance work from April 2019. But officials on Tuesday night insisted it will be "business as usual" and the popular royal line up will not be affected.
Prince Andrew, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie have private apartments there, and along with Princess Anne, they all have private offices there. During the work their accommodation and their offices will be moved across to nearby St James's Palace, where Princess Anne already has rooms.
A look back at Edward and Sophie's wedding:
As well as moving the royals, some 120 staff members will move into renovated, open-plan offices in the Palace's West Attic – known by insiders as The Footman's Floor, because it was previously used as accommodation for servants. And 10,000 works of art belonging to the Royal Collection will also be removed to allow the renovations to take place.
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Prince Edward and his wife Sophie are moving to St James's Palace
A palace spokesman said the objects will either be loaned to galleries, stored in other royal residences or placed in commercial storage for the duration of the programme. Sir Michael Stevens, Keeper of the Privy Purse, said: "The Palace's electrical cabling, plumbing and heating have not been updated since the 1950s and the building's infrastructure is now in urgent need of an overhaul to avoid the very real danger of catastrophic failure leading to fire or flood, and incalculable damage to the building and priceless works of art in the Royal Collection."
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Renovations are taking place on Buckingham Palace
Details of the first phase of a 10-year programme of renovations were made public as it emerged the Queen's annual expenditure has risen by 13 per cent. The Sovereign Grant – taxpayer funds received by the monarchy to pay for official duties, payroll costs, travel and property maintenance increased from £41.9 million to £47.4 million compared with the previous year – the equivalent of 69p for every man, woman and child in the UK compared to 65p in the last financial year.
But the figure does not include an additional £30.4million taken from Crown Estate profits and put towards the £369million, decade-long programme of improvements approved by Parliament in 2016. The huge cost is being covered by a temporary increase in the percentage of Crown Estate profits used to calculate the Sovereign Grant from 15% to 25%.