Duchess Kate’s Anmer Hall renovation made the kitchen the center of the house

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend Service at Westminster Abbey

We’ve been talking about the new biography of Prince Charles a lot in the past few weeks. The book is called Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life by Sally Bedell Smith, but it’s about a lot more than just Charles. There are stories about Diana (obviously), William, Kate, Harry and the Queen. I’ve been surprised by how much coverage this book has gotten online, especially since… there really isn’t much new stuff in here? Granted, I used to read a lot of royal biographies and memoirs from royal-adjacent people. If you want to read a really great book about Diana, I would absolutely suggest The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown. Anyway, there are some pieces of “news” that are getting wide coverage, so let’s do a list!

William & Kate’s wedding. Obviously, Will and Kate had to run their guest list through Buckingham Palace and William didn’t want to invite a lot of people that he didn’t know. So when he complained about the guest list, the Queen told him, “Get rid of it…Start from your friends and then we’ll add those we need to in due course. It’s your day.”

Katie Keen’s Kitchen. When Will & Kate were given Anmer Hall, they began an exhaustive renovation on the historic home. Kate hired architect Charles Morris and interior decorator Ben Pentreath to oversee the reno and Kate would apparently “type up notes of their conversations” on her train rides back and forth between London and Norfolk. Kate apparently insisted that the kitchen feel like the center of Anmer Hall (which is probably why she had the beautiful old kitchen ripped out). When the Queen visited the newly-renovated Anmer Hall, she apparently remarked on how “extraordinary” it was that they “all live in the kitchen.” I guess it has an open-concept? The Anmer Hall reno cost, according to this book, $2 million.

The Kensington Palace renovation. Apparently, KP had to be completely renovated because the ceilings were too low for William, who is something like 6’4”. The book estimates that the KP reno cost $6 million.

Kate snuck into a David Hockney exhibit. In 2012, she went to the Royal Academy of Arts after-hours to see the Hockney exhibit and she was able to chat with a lawyer and his son and they didn’t even know who she was.

Charles didn’t like Will & Kate’s first royal tour. In 2011, Will and Kate did a tour of Canada and they stopped in California too. When Charles was looking through their itinerary before they left for the trip, he apparently said that the tour was much too heavy on photo-ops.

Royal staffers. Charles has a lot of people around him, of course, and Will and Kate has far fewer staffers than Charles. But the award for most low-key staffing goes to Princess Anne, who apparently allows her butler to wear jeans!!

Some people think William & the Queen are cut from the same cloth. Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, former principal private secretary to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and to Prince Harry, says, “William is like his grandmother . . . . He gets on with his duty, dedicates himself to doing the job . . . . [He’s] looking at ‘the long game.’ ” The Queen, Lady Elizabeth Anson says, can see “continuity” with the couple.

[From E! News & Vogue]

I tend to believe that the Anmer Hall renovation cost a lot more than $2 million, especially if Kate insisted on a complete refiguring of the first floor and ripping out a gorgeous and already-remodeled kitchen, all so everyone could watch her make chutney. Plus, we know she had to move the tennis court to improve the view, add a “garden room addition,” add a new swimming pool and more. As for Will & Kate’s wedding guest list… it’s funny that the Queen told them it was okay to not invite a bunch of people who were presumably her friends or Charles’ friends. It’s funny because… Will and Kate’s wedding guest list was struggling. The Middletons were so drunk with power that they invited totally random people from Bucklebury just so Lady Carole could lord it all over the peasants! It was very funny.

Duchess of Cambridge 42nd Street

Kate Middleton Attends The National Portrait Gallery In London

Photos courtesy of WENN, Fame/Flynet.

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74 Responses to “Duchess Kate’s Anmer Hall renovation made the kitchen the center of the house”

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  1. amy says:

    Isn’t this already known? Why buy a book with old information?

    • Maria says:

      The only bit of new info is that William is like his grandmother, puts duty first, dedicated etc. Seriously? How many engagements did he do last year compared to 90-year old Granny?

    • tmot says:

      Same reason anyone not new here would look at a Kate post. It’s like going to Denny’s, or Taco Bell. You know exactly what you’ll be getting.

  2. bluhare says:

    I am half way through this book, and haven’t got to the Kate days yet. So far I’m finding it to be quite positive about Charles. She calls him out as well, but I’ve been quite surprised at all the things he managed to do and he’s just now got divorced from Diana. I’m about to start the chapter about when she died.

    • LAK says:

      That was fast!!!

      I’m getting started on my copy tonight.

    • bluhare says:

      I’m a really fast reader. I’m halfway through the book and I started it yesterday morning. Downside is because I don’t really “see” the words some details don’t get through. But I’ve really been rather impressed with what he was able to do, and I’m only at 1997. Maybe the bad stuff starts now.

  3. littlemissnaughty says:

    2 million seems really low, renovations are notorious money pits. And if you hire an architect and an interior designer? I highly doubt they got it done for 2 million.

    And continuity means nothing. WTF?

    • TryingToThink says:

      2 million for mere renovations is a lot if you think about realistic prices even for those pricey things they used.
      Some people manage to build 4-5 very nice 1 family homes with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms each for that sum (not including costs for the grounds).
      I know because my parents managed. Though they themselves oversaw all works done as the architect did just draw the plans and signed okay for work done properly. That means you check if the electricians put in enough plug sockets and you check that the painters and decorators don’t screw you over wallpapers and paints and all that.

      I doubt that Kate did do that by herself. She probably hired somebody and that is why it got so expensive.

  4. Becky says:

    I’m liking Princess Anne more as time goes on.

  5. Guest says:

    Katie and her renovations… well when you have no job and no other things to do.

  6. eXo says:

    Princess Anne and also Prince Edward seem to be the Queen’s “normal” kids.

  7. Pumpkin Pie says:

    The kitchen? Really? Is this supposed to give them a wholesome family image or what?
    And how much does she eat, anyway? I am NOT bodyshaming her. The difference between her pre-engagement body and now is so obvious. How much weight did she lose? 40lbs?

    • JustME says:

      Doubt she eats and cooks much. I think she just loves to renovate and the kitchen was one of her victims ^^

    • Digital Unicorn (aKa Betti) says:

      I think this is a Middleton thing. I have read that they as a family spend/spent a lot of time in the kitchen prepping meals etc.. a lot of families do that. Esp if people like cooking.

      • mimi says:

        I really don’t get this “living in the kitchen” thing. I hate cooking smells so much! You’ll never catch me in the kitchen when my mom’s cooking. At home I usually eat fresh food or I eat out. Just the thought of cooking stench oozing into my clothes and hair makes me retch. Maybe it’s a cultural thing; in my country most home owners have a thing called summer kitchen. It’s a room or an annexe in the yard where all the cooking is done so that the house stays odour-free. I really don’t understant Waity Dolittle, such a huge pile and she lives in the kitchen. A waste of space, just like her and her Bill.

      • Bridget says:

        That’s weird. Not trying to be mean, but that’S weird Mimi.

      • Adele Dazeem says:

        Mimi I have your back and I see your point. Cooking smells can gross me out, and well I’m no…idk insert the name of a famous cook person here. Gordon Ramsey?! Lol. People are offended, appalled, DISTURBED by my husband and I in that we are not “food people.” We eat for sustenance and really don’t give it much thought. When we have date night we see movies, explore, go on walks, hikes etc but rarely go out to dinner. Sometimes I think we’d be less offensive to some people if we said we were Trump voters.

      • mimi says:

        Adele, it’s great to find a kindred spirit! I know most people find it odd that I’m not a food person. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. In my country, food is just sustenance and cooking is not something one does for enjoyment. I find it weird in a funny way that people think eating out is romantic! “Romantic dinner” is just something I don’t get!

    • Megan says:

      A few years ago we renovated and doubled the size of the kitchen since that is where we spent so much time. Most new houses have huge kitchens because that reflects how we live in 2017. I get why Kate wanted a bigger and more stylish kitchen than the faux country original.

      I am not buying the $2 million price tag. Beyond the cosmetic changes, they replaced the roof, moved the driveway and renovated the out buildings.

    • bluhare says:

      From what I understand Kate actually does cook. And William likes having the family experience. So it makes sense that the kitchen would come out of the background and become more central to the house like most of us.

    • Pumpkin Pie says:

      @Digital Unicorn (aKa Betti) That makes sense.

      But why don’t the Middletons pay for it then?

      • Digital Unicorn (aka Betti) says:

        Its not about them paying for it its more of its something that Kate likely grew up with, the family in the kitchen cooking, talking and generally being together. For a lot of families the kitchen is the meeting place where they all interact as a family – but i guess that’s if you’re lucky enough to have a large kitchen/dining area.

        But the price tag and renovations at Amner where over board.

    • notasugarhere says:

      The kitchen wasn’t old and decrepit. The £38,000 kitchen was only 5-6 old, done by the high-end kitchen designers who were kicked out so W&K could move in. You can see photos of it online. This story makes out that it was some dank hovel cut off from everything, instead of the large, new, designer kitchen that it was.

      • Megan says:

        I don’t know what renovations in the UK cost, but in the US, a renovation at that price point would be pretty modest. Probably just a change of cabinets and appliances. I thought the “designer” kitchen looked like a standard Home Depot renovation from the 1990’s.

        But all of that said, it is their house and they can make whatever changes they want. It was paid for out of Charles’s private purse (let’s avoid a discussion about the Duchy because the current law recognizes his right to income from the Duchy) so who cares if they remodeled their own property.

        I am more likely to side eye the changes at KP because that was tax payer funded. It sounds like there were several rounds of interior design that had nothing to do with the structural needs of the building.

      • notasugarhere says:

        I don’t consider trashing a $50,000 kitchen to be modest, but that’s just me.

        Income to be used to pay for costs associated with representing the sovereign. Not a right to use that taxpayer-owned income to fix up someone else’s private property. Technically it isn’t their house, it belongs to Elizabeth Windsor as private property not property of the sovereign.

        A million of the costs to this private property was paid by the taxpayers (not from the Duchy but from taxpayer funds) and then hushed up. Ends up being important.

      • Imqrious2 says:

        It’s a matter of taste/aesthetics. It may be nice/lovely/beautiful to some and not to others. When I was looking at homes, I saw ones that had lovely kitchens, but not necessarily my taste. If I bought it, should I have to keep that kitchen? It’s her home. Why shouldn’t it be changed to reflect her style/taste? And before you say she should she should pay for it, didn’t the funds for all but the roof get paid for privately?

      • notasugarhere says:

        By “privately” do you mean the Duchy, which is taxpayer money. Both Duchy/taxpayer money and out-and-out taxpayer money were spent on Anmer.

        We’re talking about two different properties. One is owned by the state (Kensington), the other is owned by Elizabeth Windsor personally (Anmer as part of the Sandringham Estate).

        W&K weren’t given ownership of Anmer Hall, they are allowed to live there rent-free as other royals have in the past (Kents?). Big issue is the amount of Duchy money spent on the personal property of Elizabeth Windsor, whether it was disguised as Duchy money or straight out taxpayer money.

        Same trick was pulled 40 years ago with Anne’s private property. Funded renovations to private property with taxpayer money – between 5-10 million in today’s funds.

        Overall issue is the sheer amount of money wasted, no matter the source, for two people who refuse to work for their supper.

      • Kitty says:

        Nota, well is The Queen a billionaire secretly?

  8. Kitty says:

    Just how much staff do William Kate have all together? In Kensington and at Amner?

  9. Zapp Brannigan says:

    “William is like his grandmother . . . . He gets on with his duty, dedicates himself to doing the job ”

    So this a work of fiction right?

    • Deedee says:

      Yeah, I laughed out loud at that one.

    • Tourmaline says:

      That’s Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, he was chosen a godfather to Prince George so has an investment in making all seem well.
      “He’s looking at the long game….” bwah ha ha, I love the spin on how Will and Kate are so keen to really get going with their public roles, but not yet, not just yet!

  10. Anitas says:

    I can’t imagine kitchens occupying a prominent part of the building in Buckingham Palace or any such royal residences. Big expensive kitchens designed for showing off are distinctly upper middle-class thing. Calculated move by Kate, given Will’s longing for the ‘middle-class’ lifestyle.
    Though I wouldn’t make any judgements based on the Queen’s comments, it’s not like the old biddy is in touch with reality much either.

    • TryingToThink says:

      Spot on for Kate’s and William’s pretension of middle-class life. (Though I would guess that kind of middle class life who don’t entertain a bit bigger).

      The Queen is in touch with the kind of work Royals are supposed to do and that open-plan kitchen isn’t helpful for that kind of work. See my comment below.

    • Starlight says:

      ….. the old biddy is in touch with reality when she has to dig deep into her pocket …….

  11. Lainey says:

    Is William 6`4? I thought he was 6`2 tops. Don’t old buildings all have really high ceilings to begin with?
    As for the rest of it yeah I believe it, although I think the numbers went much higher. Interesting that we’re getting another reason for the much needed renovation on KP. Asbestos, low ceilings, spoiled rich kids who don’t know the value of money and don’t care about the tax-payer.
    As for William being cut from the same cloth as the Queen- Yeah right. But then Jamie is Wills biggest fan. When he worked for them Will was given all the priority despite him working for Harry too.
    I doubt there staff is that small. Before George came along they had around 30 office staff. It’s bound to have grown since then and then add in the personal staff to it. Probably still smaller than Charles but by no means minuscule.

  12. Becks says:

    Can someone explain the issue with the Canada tour? It says that Charles didn’t like it because it had too many photo ops. But isn’t that part of the whole purpose of a tour like that? I know they didn’t “do” a whole lot on the tour but it didn’t seem that off to me.

    • Digital Unicorn (aKa Betti) says:

      I think I tight have been snark at the LA stop where they attended a Hollywood party at BAFTA LA filled with celebs.

      • bluhare says:

        Well according to that book, Charles has done his share of it too. Although I suppose most of it was fund raising.

      • Digital Unicorn (aka Betti) says:

        From what i recall of the LA trip was added as Waity desperately wanted to meet Angelina Jolie who declined the opportunity, so they went to a few star studded events instead which was aimed at promoting the British film industry in HW not for fund raising. But Willy is the President of BATFA.

    • TryingToThink says:

      Well, Royal tours should promote things Britain stands for or produces. There are meetings and parties and speeches and visits to… and conversations and photo ops, of course. But I am not sure that such a lot of photo ops without any “cause” would promote anything British but rather Waity and her Wiglets and her princely armcandy.

  13. graymatters says:

    I think the low-ceilinged space at KP this refers to is Nottingham Cottage, which was the Cambridges’ London base when they first married. Apt 1A always had the palatial grandeur one would expect from a space Princess Margaret called home.

    I wonder what the staff does with themselves in Amner. Traditionally, the kitchen would have been staff space but now that the status-conscious owners hang out there are the assistants relegated to the shed? Perhaps they all stay in London and skype in for the occasional meeting. It would explain the haphazard approach to professionalism we see from the Cambridges.

    • MinnFinn says:

      I’ve read that some of their household staff are assigned to one house or the other and some switch residences when K & W do.

    • Megan says:

      I think their professional staff is based at Clarence House. IRC, they renovated one of the out buildings at Anmer for their security staff and another for the nanny. As for household and garden staff, I assume they live locally and have set work hours, so it’s not like the old days when staff was hanging out in the kitchen between lunch and dinner service.

  14. DiamondGirl says:

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting your own kitchen design when you have the money to do it.

    Who cares if it had recently been done by other occupants? If I moved into a house that had brand new bright red carpet or something, I’d change it as soon as possible no matter how new it was.

    Even the dimwits on House Hunters who don’t seem to have huge resources make big changes right away.

    • Imqrious2 says:

      +1000 @ Diamondgirl. I just said the same thing above. Great minds…😊

    • TryingToThink says:

      If they had paid for that new kitchen with their own money nobody would have minded.

      But Kate and William are supported by Charles who is supported by the taxpayer-owned Duchy of Cornwall. The Duchy makes money. That money belongs to the taxpayer who negotiates a certain sum which Charles receives.
      So in the end Will and Kate and their endless expensive renovations are paid for by the taxpayer who has a right to ask why the taxpayer’s money is wasted on vanity projects.

      • Darling says:

        TryingToThink, YOU have a great mind.

        I wish Kate’s fans would make more effort to try to think.

  15. MinnFinn says:

    I doubt that Kate took the train to commute to her design appointments at Amner.

    And I need more convincing they spend tons of family time in their kitchen. KP and Amner supposedly have a traditional nanny setup with a kitchen adjacent to the nursery so the kids can have their meals separate from the adults. I figure Kate spends on average 3-4 hours with her kids each day. This is because her hyper-grooming and hobbies take a lot of time. She spends so much time on other things like scuba and flying lessons, procuring her wardrobe, yoga, personal fitness trainer, coloring, tennis, drawing, meeting with interior and landscape designers, creating mood boards for her wedding/entertaining, and that “nightmare” hair. Plus I bet she takes riding lessons.

    • Meow says:

      A note on the nightmare hair – I have thick dark hair (Mediterranean genes), and all it takes to make it look nice is a blow dry, a run through with the straighteners and some oil (kuikui usually).

      If her hair is a “nightmare” according to Willy, that says to me that she is having endless extensions/wiglets put in and taken out. Actual, natural thick (curly rather than Afro) hair is relatively simple to keep looking sleek.

      • Anitas says:

        I bet her hair is a nightmare because when it falls out hairs get everywhere. I know they have cleaning staff etc, but from my experience even after I clean the room thoroughly I can still find an individual hair or two stuck to furniture or the carpet. Not to mention the drains… Ugh. With her hair as long and thick as it is, and if she plays with it at home as much as she does in public, I can imagine it getting stuck everywhere.

  16. suze says:

    A huge showy kitchen in the center of the house is a status symbol. At least it’s a useful status symbol where they can all hang out all day, pretending this is what all the other middle class folks do. Normal Bill has descended into the life a very, very, very upper middle class lad for sure.

    I am sure Kate cooks, albeit when she wants to, and what she wants, and focuses on the parts she wants. (Doubtful that she cooks every meal or that she is doing all the shopping and cleanup)

    I have a relatively large kitchen myself, and it’s nice, but I can’t hang out there trying out recipes all day. Work calls. Errands must be run. Toilets need to be cleaned.

    • TryingToThink says:

      I would like to agree and slightly disagree.

      Big open-plan kitchens might work well if you needn’t impress others with class and sophistication you find in the upper classes.
      The upper classes have staff and they don’t want the sound of pots being cleaned and the dishwasher running while they try to have a conversation with important guests.
      And most upper middle class families I know have an additional dining room even when they have an open-plan kitchen.

      Kate’s open plan kitchen is very telling of her work ethics: she doesn’t intend to do the work she is supposed to do but she wants to play happy (lower) middle class family.

  17. Kitty says:

    They do seem to have low staff. When Diana was alived and married I read that she had a personal staff of 40 to HERSELF!!!

  18. notasugarhere says:

    Sixer, from the other thread re. “biscuits” meant British “biscuits”. Basically not-too-sweet biscuits (in my case butter cookies that aren’t too sugary), broken up and covered in the finest melted chocolate you can afford. You can use McVities digestives, but I prefer McVities Rich Tea, because they hold up to the chocolate better.

    I use a recipe that is sweetened condensed milk, butter, and chocolate not one that involves raw eggs.

  19. PettyRiperton says:

    “William is like his grandmother . . . . He gets on with his duty, dedicates himself to doing the job” LMAO Where? When? I need receipts!

    If Will and Kate want to be middle class the queen she let them snatch the big houses away and that big budget. Make them really live like middle class.

  20. Nn says:

    Where are the psychics? Will William divorce kate and she will never get to be queen? Hmm

  21. Starlight says:

    Recent Diana and Charles tv documentary on this week and n UK tv looking back at their courtship and wedding. Diana was so adored the day she left her flat in Earl’s Court to get engaged. Everything about her was quite understated and the tv media at least made it clear she was an aristocrat. There was no mention of the most expensive kitchens or renovations in that era. But then maybe these days it’s all got celebrity twee and material. As for the kitchen being the centre of Amners universe I was in a shop once in a small village and over heard someone say that the kitchen at Amner was the most expensive that money could buy. So no surprise that this is hinted in the book.

    • Digital Unicorn (aka Betti) says:

      Since she got married she’s all about the most expensive, exclusive things. Look at all the expensive and specially altered designer clothes she has.