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.

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