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London's palace is falling down, falling down...

Buckingham Palace: a bit of a fixer-upper, apparently.

Buckingham Palace: 60 rooms needing renovation. That location can't be beat, though.
Buckingham Palace: 60 rooms needing renovation. That location can't be beat, though.
Image: (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

BRITISH ROYAL ACCOUNTANTS have come under fire from MPs, who claim the Royal Family must cut their cloth in order to repair crumbling palaces.

The British parliamentary public accounts committee also called on the royal family to raise more money, finding that they are dipping into reserves too often. The report revealed that the palace’s reserves now stand at an “historically low” £1 million.

Officials claim that this is due to last year’s diamond jubilee celebrations, however.

Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge said that, while nobody was accusing the royals of profligacy, it was important that the Treasury and the royal accountants get their house in order.

“The household needs to get better at planning and managing its budgets for the longer term — and the Treasury should be more actively involved in reviewing what the household is doing,” she said.

The queen received a grant of £31 million from taxpayers funds last year. This covered staffing, travel and maintenance. The Sovereign Grant will rise to £36.1 million this year.

Repairs

The report said that there was a large number of repairs needed at royal palaces, with 40 per cent of the estate in need of repairs.

The Victoria and Albert Mausoleum, where the late queen Victoria and her husband prince Albert are buried, has been waiting for repairs for 18 years, the report said, while other problems include walls riddled with asbestos.

Some of Buckingham Palace’s 775 rooms have not been refurbished for 60 years, a palace official told MPs.

Open the gates

The income disparity has led to calls to turn Buckingham Palace into a more accessible tourist attraction. It is currently only open during August and September, when the Queen is on holiday in Scotland.

Officials say that they have considered the idea, but that the constraints of setup costs have put paid to the ideal.

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