A 10-year project to refit Buckingham Palace, the London residence of Queen Elizabeth II, is due to begin. The governing Conservative Party has given the monarch a 66 per cent pay rise to fund the £369 million project.
Britain's Guardian newspaper reports that the opposition Labour Party and Scottish National Party have questioned why the Queen is getting the raise at a time of austerity for the country. According to the newspaper, officials argue that the repairs are urgent because the building is at risk of catastrophic failure.
The Royal Family web site notes that George III bought Buckingham House in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte to use as a comfortable family home close to St James's Palace, where many court functions were held. Buckingham House became known as the Queen's House, and 14 of George III's 15 children were born there. Its size was doubled in the 1820s during the reign of George IV and further extended by Queen Victoria. The palace has served as the official London residence of the British monarch since Victoria's accession in 1837, and today is the administrative headquarters of the Queen.
Its 775 rooms include 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 additional bathrooms. The refurbishment, the biggest undertaken on the property since World War II, according to the Guardian, will renew the palace's 33-year-old boilers, 100 miles of electrical cable, some of it 60 years old, and 20 miles of lead and cast iron pipework.
The announcement comes at a time when MPs are considering a £4 billion plan for renovations and repairs at the Palace of Westminster, the meeting place of Parliament.
Date written/update: 2016-11-23