The Daily Telegraph
Scottish idyll may be given to nation as palaces are made to pay own way
‘He will use Buckingham Palace because that is his duty. But he might open up more of the building to the public’
THE King will take a more “entrepreneurial” approach to the way royal palaces and residences are used and could give Balmoral to the nation, senior sources have suggested.
His Majesty faces major decisions over who will live at the large number of state and privately owned homes that now come under his control, and he is likely to decide on radical changes for some of the country’s most famous buildings.
Buckingham Palace, in particular, is likely to be made to pay its own way, according to those familiar with the King’s thinking.
Queen Elizabeth II had four main residences – Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral in Aberdeenshire and Sandringham in Norfolk – but the King also has Clarence House, Highgrove, Birkhall and Llwynywermod, his cottage in Wales, as well as Kensington Palace and other residences used by other members of the family.
Friends of the King say he is not wedded to the idea of living in all of the residences available to him, and might well be content to use the “grand houses” he is used to, rather than more palatial surroundings.
“He will use Buckingham Palace because he knows that is his duty,” said one royal aide, “but he might choose to use fewer rooms and open up more of the building to the public.”
One possibility said to be under consideration is to extend the annual summer opening of the Palace to a far longer period, bringing in more money for the building’s upkeep, or even to allow charities and other organisations to rent the public rooms for events.
Balmoral, in particular, could be opened up to the public all year round, rather than the four months for which it is available for visiting, or it could be gifted to the nation.
The same aide said: “If you look at Highgrove, Birkhall and Clarence House, they are big houses rather than palaces. What does that mean in terms of him hanging on to massive buildings?
“He has gifted Dumfries House to the Scottish nation. What that means for some of those other buildings, I don’t know, but you can see the logic.”
A former courtier said: “He will probably do something with the garden at Buckingham Palace.
“He will also continue to use the farms at Sandringham and Balmoral for experimenting, like going organic.”
The King will keep Birkhall on the Balmoral estate, which he considers his true home, but may choose to give Highgrove – owned by the Duchy of Cornwall – and even Sandringham to Prince William, who uses Anmer Hall in Norfolk as a second home.
Clarence House, originally earmarked for Prince Harry, could be retained as a working headquarters for the King’s charities, while Windsor Castle, which belongs to the nation, could be used as a weekend retreat for the whole family now that the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall have moved with their children to the Windsor estate.
Penny Junor, the royal biographer, said that the King’s instincts will be to reduce the cost of the royal estate.
She added: “He has concerns about the size of the monarchy, but he has said that if you are going to have a monarchy it’s the pomp and ceremony and tradition that makes it worthwhile.
“I think he might bring in more income from the royal assets because he is quite an entrepreneur.
“He has made money out of the Duchy. His income from Cornwall is colossal given what it was when he took it on.
“If he allowed more visitors into Balmoral, that would be a good earner.”