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Why Queen will snub Buckingham Palace as ‘home’ despite £369m refurbishment

Queen launches the baton relay for the 2022 Commonwealth Games

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Queen Elizabeth II has several properties across the UK that she visits at different times of the year. But in recent years, the Queen has spent most of her time at her official Berkshire residence, Windsor Castle. She and her late husband Prince Philip spent much of the UK lockdown in Windsor, where the Duke died aged 99 this April. Now, she is thought to shun her normal home at Buckingham Palace in favour of her Windsor estate.

Why will the Queen now live mostly at Windsor?

Following Prince Philip’s death earlier this year, columnist Richard Kay hinted the Queen’s permanent home was likely to be Windsor.

Mr Kay wrote for the Daily Mail: “Staff have been told that the castle will be the Queen’s permanent home (barring Christmas holidays at Sandringham and summers in Balmoral) and that while she will return to work at Buckingham Palace, it is unlikely she will ever spend another night there.”

Under this system, the Queen could travel to Buckingham Palace to use it as her administrative base, before returning to her ‘home’ in Windsor.

A more permanent set-up at Windsor also makes sense in light of the multi-million-pound renovations currently taking place at Buckingham Palace.

A ten-year renovation programme is currently underway at the London palace, which boasts 775 rooms, including 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms, at a total cost of £369million.

The work being carried out aims to replace the electrical cabling, plumbing and heating – often for the first time in 60 years.

When such work was announced, the Treasury said an “urgent overhaul” was needed to prevent the risk of fire, flood and damage – both to the building and the priceless Royal Collection of art, which belongs to the nation.

However, the fact the Queen will no longer live there is likely to irk republicans who do not believe the public should be footing the bill for such works.

The Royal Household is expected to use the Sovereign Grant to maintain the palaces.

This funding is currently worth 25 per cent of the profits made by the Crown Estate.

But as Tax Payers’ Alliance notes, “the Crown Estate is not the private property of the Queen, instead it belongs to the Crown – a legal embodiment of the state and therefore entrusted and governed by Parliament.”

The body added that when the Crown Estate portfolio fell by more than £500 million in value last year, “instead of taking it on the chin like every other business owner who has seen their assets hit due to COVID-19, the taxpayer has bailed the royals out – ensuring that the Sovereign Grant will not fall in value for the next financial year.”

In 2014, MPs criticised the Royal Household for mismanaging its finances and accused the Royal Household of “not looking after nationally important heritage properties adequately”.

Campaign group Republic previously said the refurbishment was “an indictment on the Queen’s scandalous mismanagement of royal finances over six decades”.

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Where has the Queen previously lived?

Prince Philip retired at the impressive age of 96 back in 2017, so the Queen and Philip often lived apart while she completed her royal duties.

While the Queen was often at Buckingham Palace, Prince Philip spent his retirement at Wood Farm on the Sandringham estate.

But when the pandemic hit the UK last year, the Queen and Philip moved into Windsor Castle together full-time.

In a standard year, the Queen and Prince Philip used to spend their summer months at Balmoral together.

Members of the Royal Family would usually spend a week with the Queen between August and October.

Then for the Christmas period, the Queen and Prince Philip always spent the festive season at Sandringham in Norfolk.

The Queen often left Sandringham in February, around the date of her father’s death on February 6, 1952.

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