In 2016, Buckingham Palace announced that they had finalized plans for an extensive renovation of… Buckingham Palace. As I said back then, it’s been widely known for many years that BP is quite run-down – it’s drafty, there are electrical issues, parts of the building are crumbling, there are water leaks and mold, etc. There’s a reason why Prince Charles wants to continue to live at Clarence House even when he’s King. The issue back in 2016 – and the issue still, today – was the cost of the renovation. $460 million (US), or £369 million. That’s only the projected cost – anyone who’s gone through an extensive reno knows that it always ends up costing more. The reno started in 2017 and it will likely be a decade-long project. The project was put on hold with the coronavirus though – obviously, the Queen finally shuffled off to Windsor Castle and BP was operating with a skeleton staff, so no construction people were supposed to be there during the British lockdown. Turns out though, the Queen ordered workers back to the palace in early May. Oh ho ho, she can do that??
The Queen has sent a resounding message to Britain’s labourers – it’s time to get back to work. Her Majesty has instructed a team of builders to resume work on the £369 million refurbishment of Buckingham Palace now that the Government has eased lockdown measures. The 94-year-old monarch has wasted no time in ordering the swift restart of the project which was stalled as workers were confined to their homes by the coronavirus pandemic. Her decisive stance echoes Boris Johnson ’s call for Britain’s workers to return to work this week to try and drive the country out of its economic turmoil. She has sought to set an example to the country by calling for a resumption of the major reservicing project after a seven-week halt.
The 10-year taxpayer-funded project to give the Queen’s official London residence a facelift and make it fit for the 21st century had to be put largely on hold when Boris Johnson brought in Covid-19 restrictions on March 23. Contractors were told not to travel to the palace to work and much of the project was shut down, although some jobs, including designing, procurement and planning, were done remotely. But the renovation and refurbishment work inside the palace has now restarted. In fact it resumed on May 4 even before Boris Johnson went on television on May 10 and urged construction workers to return to work.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “After a temporary suspension, reservicing programme operations have safely restarted at Buckingham Palace. Operations have begun in a phased manner to allow for effective social distancing across the sites. With the wellbeing of staff and relevant government advice in mind, a limited number of contractors have been permitted on site initially. Additional work has been continuing remotely wherever possible, including progressing with designs, procurement and planning for future stages of the project.”
Palace officials had been looking for clear signals from the Government after mixed messages in the early days of lockdown over whether “non-essential” construction sites should remain open. But they are now confident that the reservicing project can be resumed safely while adhering to Government guidelines.
“In fact it resumed on May 4 even before Boris Johnson went on television on May 10 and urged construction workers to return to work.” I’m sorry WHAT? So basically, non-essential work on a drafty old palace started back up a week before the government said it was okay. So it sounds like work was actually only suspended for six weeks, not seven. Did no one tell the Queen that “the optics are bad” if a construction worker contracted the virus on-site at the palace? I get that it’s a historic site, but lord… this work is the very definition of “non-essential.” And I still maintain that BP was a tear-down and they should have used a quarter of the expense to just build a shiny new McMansion in its place.
Photos courtesy of WENN, Backgrid and Avalon Red.