The Daily Mail has published an article that is sure to rile up some people. The Palace’s expense reports come out next Wednesday, I think, but the Mail got a preview of the total cost of the renovations to Apartment 1A, otherwise known as Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 22-plus room Kensington Palace home. In the 2012-2013 report, the total cost of the renovations was £1 million. One year later the total cost has skyrocketed to a whopping £4 million ($6.8 million by today’s exchange rates). The original £1 million was to fix the interior, because of asbestos, and the roof. So the extra £3 million went to… building a new bedroom for Will and Kate, and a new nursery for George… because the 22-plus room apartment didn’t have a master bedroom or a nursery before? I’m having a hard time understanding why the powers that be are willing to shill out £4 million on one apartment for Will and Kate when they aren’t willing to pay for repairs to Buckingham freaking Palace.
I’ve quoted the article (accessed June 21, 6:00 am):
Your bill to refurbish Kate’s palace is now £4MILLION: New kitchen, nursery and several bathrooms quadruples the cost
The cost to taxpayers of refurbishing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Kensington Palace apartment has quadrupled – to £4million.
Building work on the 22-plus room home has soared by £3million in the last year and includes the bill for William and Kate’s new kitchen and several bathrooms, the Mail can reveal.
The vast project has seen Apartment 1A, which had been used as office space since the death of Princess Margaret, transformed into a ‘family home’.
Although the couple are personally paying for all fixtures and fittings like curtains, carpets and furniture, the cost of building their new bedroom and even Prince George’s nursery has come from the public purse.
One courtier last night insisted that the Kensington Palace project actually offered taxpayers ‘great value’ given the state of the crumbling apartment.
But questions will be asked as to whether Buckingham Palace, which has forked out for the refurbishment, is spending public money wisely.
Cuts to the Queen’s funding led to a dramatic battle between courtiers and the previous Government.
Senior officials – who admitted at one point that the monarch was down to her last £1million in the bank – accused ministers of leaving them with a £40million backlog of essential work to royal residences.
Just a few years ago Princess Anne was almost hit by a piece of falling masonry in the crumbling courtyard at Buckingham Palace, while staff are regularly forced to use buckets to catch the rain from its leaky roof.
Following a comprehensive review of royal finances, the Queen now receives a Sovereign Grant to spend as she wishes on her residences and official duties. The sum was £37.9million in 2014-15.
The Mail understands that a ‘significant proportion’ of the money set aside for essential repairs and maintenance has been spent on William and Kate’s new home.
MPs have already questioned the use of money on private accommodation after discovering that £1million had been spent in 2012/2013.
They were due to be told that the bill for Apartment 1A has spiralled to £4million, including VAT, when the Queen’s accounts are laid before Parliament on Wednesday.
But after being contacted by the Mail with the figures, Buckingham Palace was forced to reveal details of the full cost.
A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess said the Palace is their ‘one and only official residence’, where they will live for ‘many years to come’.
But it was last refurbished in 1963 and needed a ‘significant amount of work’ to make it habitable again.
He added: ‘The work included significant costs for the removal of asbestos, the installation of a new roof, the complete overhaul of electrics and plumbing and a significant amount of internal building work to return the residence to function as a living space.
‘To put it in perspective, there wasn’t even any running water.’ Because the palace is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the refurbishment had to be of a high standard to meet English Heritage guidelines.
In 2012/13 initial internal refurbishments cost £600,000 and the renewal of the apartment’s roof a further £400,000. It was indicated that further costs were to come, but nothing approaching the final bill revealed today.
The couple, who also own Anmer Hall, a Norfolk country mansion given to them by the Queen, finally moved into the palace apartment last autumn after more than a year of building work.
Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, last night said the bill would not go down well with either Parliament or the public.
She said: ‘This is money coming out of the public purse at a time of great austerity and I am doubtful whether this is something the public would endorse.
‘And with so many people of the same age struggling to get on the property ladder, trying to scrape together a minimal deposit, then you would have thought they would show more sensitivity.’
But the spokesman for the couple insisted that they had done everything possible to keep the costs down, adding: ‘The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paid privately for all the internal furnishing, including carpets and curtains. They were also at pains to ensure that the specification is not extravagant.’
A Buckingham Palace spokesman added: ‘This is a major Royal Household project that is specifically being created, driven and owned by us, not them. It is essential they have a home and this needed to be made into one.
‘The vast majority of these costs have gone on simply trying to make it habitable again.’
I’m having a hard time believing there was no running water. I’d believe the plumping was old and leaky and in need of repair, but not that there was no running water. Margaret lived there as recently as 2002 (she lived there until her death), and there is no way she was living without running water. And the Royal Historic Palaces had offices in that apartment until Will and Kate’s renovations started, and I doubt they worked in there without working toilets. So that “spokesman” of theirs needs to cool it with trying to make us feel sympathetic toward their “plight”, because I’m not buying what he’s selling.
I want to bring up this quote: “The Mail understands that a ‘significant proportion’ of the money set aside for essential repairs and maintenance has been spent on William and Kate’s new home.” So out of all the money allotted to fixing up ALL the royal residences, which includes all the needed repairs to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, they spent a “significant proportion” on one apartment for Will and Kate? The hell? Why do Will and Kate get so much special treatment? I understand they need a place to live, but why do their exorbitant renovation costs come before repairing Buckingham Palace? Not only is Buckingham Palace the official residence of the Queen, it is also where a number of official events and visits occur, not to mention Buckingham Palace is open to the public for two months every year. Apartment 1A is a private home for Will and Kate and will never be seen or used by the public or for any official event or visit. Why!? Why do they come first!? I don’t understand!
“A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess said the Palace is their ‘one and only official residence’, where they will live for ‘many years to come’.” The wording there is important. It’s their “official” residence. They have another residence that they will probably be spending a ton of time at, Anmer Hall–which is also being renovated at excessive costs, but it’s being paid for “privately”, so I guess that means we don’t get to see those numbers. They also have a whole wing to themselves at Middleton Manor. Yes, technically what the spokesman said is true, but it’s not the whole story. He’s acting like KP is their only residence that they will live in for decades, so the £4 million is isn’t that bad, when in reality they have one other residence solely to themselves, another that they can use whenever they want that’s private and not royal related, and any number of other royal residences they have access to whenever they want. It’s not like KP is their one and only option. Again, cool it spokesman.
You know, I’m a woman, so emotionally I totally understand the desire to renovate and redecorate a new home, but I don’t see why Will and Kate need to spend so much public money on their home. The asbestos and roof, I understand. I could even see the plumping and electric. But moving walls and creating new rooms and new kitchens and bathrooms? That I don’t get. Because fixing a bathroom is more than just plumping, you know they charged the public for brand new tile and expensive showers and all that stuff. And a new kitchen is more than just electric and pluming, there’s new counter tops and cabinets and appliances. I get wanting to upgrade all that stuff, and I get wanting to update rooms and make them more appealing, I really do, but that personal preference stuff should all be paid for privately. The essentials–asbestos removal, roof, plumping, electric–I’m fine with being paid for by the royal accounts, because that really is necessary updates to a historic palace that technically belongs to the state. But personal preference stuff–like a redesigned interior because W&K want a new bedroom and new nursery for George, new high-end kitchens and bathrooms–I think should be paid for privately. Those changes are not necessary to keep the palace in good condition, those changes are Will and Kate’s personal taste. And as personal changes, they should be paid for privately.
PS. Happy Birthday, William. You’re 32, it’s time to step up and be a royal and earn that £4 million through public service.
PPS. Here’s a Telegraph article with more rebuttals from Will and Kate’s spokesman. Plus, it also says the Queen is leasing an £8 million helicopter for Will and Kate to use. Geez.