Big house no palace for a king Charles
The Prince of Wales wants to give up Buckingham Palace as a royal residence when he becomes king and is discussing plans to turn it into a more businesslike “monarchy HQ”, say royal insiders.
Prince William is also believed to agree that the palace is too large and costly for modern family life. Prince Charles thinks it could be made more commercially viable by opening it to the public on a larger scale than is possible with the Queen in residence.
The sources said Charles has told staff he does not intend to live at the palace. One said the prince was “very comfortable” at Clarence House, his London home formerly occupied by the Queen Mother, and both he and the Duchess of Cornwall are believed to be keen to remain living there.
“I know he is no fan of ‘the big house’, as he calls the palace,” a source said.
“He doesn’t see it as a viable future home or a house that’s fit for purpose in the modern world. He feels its upkeep, both from a cost and environmental perspective, is not sustainable.”
Staff have had informal discussions over the future use of the 775-room palace, which is mainly open to visitors from late July until October while the Queen takes her annual break at Balmoral. Under Charles, the palace might become a museum open for longer periods with an exhibition dedicated to his mother’s record-breaking reign.
“What’s to say Buckingham Palace can’t be opened to the public for at least six months, while keeping the state rooms pristine for use during big occasions?” noted one source.
“That would be a modern approach and he’ll be thinking along those lines.”
Another insider added: “It makes perfect sense commercially to offset the costs of running such a big place by extending availability to the ticket-buying public.”
A Clarence House spokesman said: “Buckingham Palace will remain the official London residence of the monarch.”
A royal source said: “We have continued to say that Kensington Palace will be the Duke of Cambridge’s residence throughout the next reign, whereupon he will move into Buckingham Palace.”
British sovereigns have occupied Buckingham Palace since Queen Victoria moved there in 1837.
Sources have suggested that under Charles, the palace would continue to host state occasions and diplomatic receptions and might provide space for his private office and communications team.
No major changes to the running of the palace are expected while the Queen is alive.
Prince Andrew and Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, occupy flats at the palace, where other family members keep offices.
The palace is undergoing a 369 million ($623m) taxpayerfunded refurbishment. The Treasury has said the building needs an “urgent overhaul” to prevent the risk of fire, flood and damage.
The discussion of the palace’s future comes amid reports of differences between senior courtiers at Buckingham Palace and Clarence House over how to manage the transition of power between the Queen, 91, and Charles, 68.