Queen Elizabeth lifted the suspension on Buckingham Palace construction in early May

Buckingham Palace diplomatic reception

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.

[From The Daily Mirror]

“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.

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14 Responses to “Queen Elizabeth lifted the suspension on Buckingham Palace construction in early May”

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  1. BayTampaBay says:

    ” 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.”

    Prince Charles would have had a heart attack!

  2. Tia says:

    The U.K. never had an ‘essential jobs’ requirement. It was always the case that providing social distancing was observed, any work could continue. The rule was to work at home *if you can* and to go to work if that wasn’t possible providing it wasn’t unsafe.

    A lot of construction didn’t stop at all – I have a colleague who lives in a large UK city and he says a local giant construction project didn’t even pause.

    In terms of safe working, a massive building like Buckingham Palace which probably has places for workers to park (so they can avoid public transport) is probably one of the better places to work. It looks like they paused things for several weeks while they decided on a safe way of working then got on with things.

    I have various issues with the renovation (such as what happened to all the money paid out for maintenance / upkeep previously) but the fact that it restarted in early May isn’t one of those things. Of course, if it comes out the workers can’t be safe, that’s a different matter.

    • Seraphina says:

      TIA, I have a feeling workers won’t be safe or haven’t been. We had a huge stink in VA about a place of employment not taken precautions and OSHA had been notified. One has died from COVID and many have been home sick with it.

      What pisses me off, yes harsh but it does, is that she gets sequestered in a palace God forbid she gets sick and others are told to work on her palace. Like we are back in Tudor England.

    • SarSte says:

      THIS. There is SO much misconception about what is or isn’t a reality in this country right now. Shutting down the construction industry would have impacted the Tory government. Look a little closer, you’ll notice any and every decision these pale/male/stale officials make is in their own self interest.

      All that being said, doesn’t the queen hate Buckingham Palace?… Kind of doubt the old gal is screaming at people to get back to work, regardless of how much you may like or dislike her…

  3. Ruby_Woo says:

    According to the Office of National Statistics, male construction workers are the amongst one of the highest professions to die of Covid-19. No matter how big a building, there is no guarantee that there will be appropriate social distancing. There is also a risk of cross contamination.

    Do these workers have any sort of job security? Sick pay?

    Of all the things that could be worked on in the middle of a Pandemic… a Palace? This is just gross.

    • Jo73c says:

      The ONS breaks the world down into 9 job categories, so assuming you think all of the ‘skilled trades’ category are construction workers, death rates are 4th out of 9 on the list. (One of the middle-est professions?) Not counting all of the people who are associated with the construction industry that aren’t tradesman. Labourers, managers, admin and support staff, not to mention all of the associated businesses that supply materials and equipment to the construction industry.

      I work in construction, do you? Most of our projects in London have continued on site this whole time, and we have reconfigured our sites and working practises to protect our staff.

      Construction workers have access to the same government financial support as people from every other industry, and anyone who is salaried gets paid sick leave (and receives free medical care if they do fall ill – this isn’t the US, after all.)

      Maybe consider that it’s a good thing that the construction companies involved have found safe ways to continue the project, allowing income to flow to all of those construction workers who might otherwise be out of a job.

  4. Faye G says:

    The worlds largest welfare family, forcing the common worker to pay for their opulent palaces. Maybe it’s time for the British people to abolish the monarchy and use the palace for housing the poor. Or even rent out it’s rooms on Airbnb to make up for the millions they have paid out over the generations.

  5. Pearl Grey says:

    “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.“

    Yes, I’m sure Her Majesty wants the £370,000,000 tax-payer funded renovation to resume as quickly as possible only because she wants to be an example for the country. Take note, construction labourers!

  6. Hmmt says:

    I think in terms of that specific project it not a terrible time. There shouldn’t be any visitors, tourists or staff so distancing should be fine and there’s probably less risk now then there would be at the reopening. It may also allow for a faster end date. My husband works in Boston area hospitals in a contractor capacity and is considered essential. No one he works with has gotten sick and he actually feel safer now then he ever has in the 20 years doing it. He also understands why some coworkers are staying home. If the workers dont feel comfortable working and are forced that’s one thing but there are plenty people who are content working because they want to and dont necessarily have too.

  7. Mary says:

    Somebody please explain to me how, in the eyes of some, Meghan cannot support gender equality because it is too political but the Queen can weigh in on this sensitive, divisive (return to work/school) issue?