MPs back £369m funding for 10-year Buckingham Palace refurbishment

William Watkinson

MPs have voted in favour of funding a £369m ($453m) ten-year refurbishment of Buckingham Palace set to begin next month.

On Wednesday (15 March) the multimillion-pound repair works were approved by 464 votes to 56, a majority of 408.

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At the same time they backed changes to the Sovereign Grant – the taxpayers' money given to the Queen by the Treasury - which will be raised to pay for the refurbishment.

Among those who voted against the repairs were two Labour MPs - Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow) and Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) - and 46 from the SNP.

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Officials have said the works are needed to avoid the risk of "catastrophic building failure" amid fears about potential fire and water damage.

The works include replacing some of the palace's 100 miles of ageing electrical cabling, 30 miles of lead water pipes, 6,500 electrical sockets, 5,000 light fittings, and 2,500 radiators – many for the first time in 60 years.

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The refurbishment was given the green light by Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond along with the Keeper of the Privy Purse Sir Alan Reid in November last year.

The move was prompted by a review by the Royal Trustees, who agreed that works to the palace should be funded by a temporary increase in the Sovereign Grant.

Queen Elizabeth II

The palace is held in trust by the independent property business Crown Estates, the profits of which go to the Treasury.

The Treasury then gives 15% of the sum to the monarch in the form of the Sovereign Grant. This will be raised to 25% from 2017 to 2027 to pay for the work.

As Her Majesty's working residence, where she stays during the week when in London, she will remain in residence during the work.

In response to the announcement of the planned works, an online petition was launched calling for the royals to pay for the refurbishment rather than taxpayers. It attracted more than 145,000 signatures.

The works are set to begin in April and the palace will remain open to the 15m visitors that visit every year as tourists, and the almost 100,000 who attend as guests.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

  • Buckingham Palace is where the Queen carries out official, ceremonial, diplomatic and representational duties as Head of State of the United Kingdom and Head of the Commonwealth.
  • In support of these duties, the palace hosts more than 90,000 people each year. The Queen receives a large number of formal and informal visitors, including overseas Heads of State, and the Prime Minister at weekly audiences.
  • Investitures regularly take place in the Ballroom and tens of thousands of people visit the palace each year as guests to banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and the Royal Garden Parties.
  • The palace has 775 rooms, including 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. It contains 100 miles of electrical cabling, 20 miles of heating pipework, 10 miles of hot and cold water pipework, 6,500 plug sockets, 5,000 light fittings, 330 fuse boxes, 2,500 radiators and 20 miles of skirting board.
  • It is also home to part of the Royal Collection – one of the largest and most valuable art collections in the world, and one of the last great European Royal art collections to remain intact.

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