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Britain plans £369 mn refit for Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

LONDON: Buckingham Palace is set to get a £369 million overhaul to replace leaky pipes and fire-risk cables under a taxpayer-funded plan unveiled on Friday that would see Queen Elizabeth II forced to move rooms.

The works are to start next year and last until 2027 and will see solar panels installed on the roof of the palace as well as more space for public visits in its biggest refurbishment since World War II.

The government is asking parliament to approve the £369 million funding (431-million euro, $458 million) by increasing the share the royals receive from the Crown Estate, which manages royal properties, to 25 percent from 15 percent over the period.

The queen and her husband Prince Philip would remain in residence but would have to temporarily change rooms, while some of the 37 permanent staff who currently live in the palace would have to move out.

“This palace is very much part of our DNA,” Tony Johnstone-Burt, Master of the Queen’s Household, told reporters at a briefing in a palace drawing room.

He warned of “significant risk of electric shocks and fire” from 60-year-old cables, as well as “potential leakage from lead pipes” that could damage paintings, adding that the palace boilers dated back 30 years.

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