According to a recent poll, Britons think that Buckingham Palace is the worst eyesore in London. The Queen must be mortified that her humble abode has been judged so harshly. I know I would. Of course the Queen can't move out, the palace is considered to be the sovereigns official residence. She may not like it, preferring Windsor Castle, but she's put down roots there so she's out of luck. Kings and Queens have lived there since Queen Victoria's day, so it's kind of one of those family heirlooms, care worn perhaps but you still have to smile and send a thank you note when you receive it no matter how much it smells and you wish someone had left it in storage. The Queen, being the sensible, frugal woman she's been labelled as, won't leave. Sort of reminds me of that eccentric old spinster in the neighborhood who lives with 10 cats and collects newspapers. Don't say you don't have one in your family.
Now that the kid's have moved out she and Phil really don't need the space. The grandchildren only stay occasionally so it's not like that's an excuse. Sure you can't have anymore banquets and state dinners but at their age it's probably geting too difficult to entertain everyone anyways. I'm sure the Queen must be tired of holding thanksgiving at her place every year, not to mention the leftovers afterwards.There might be an issue with where to keep the royal carriages but that's what storage centres are for and some have reasonable rates. They wouldn't have to pay so many staff because there's less carpet to vacumn and how many people can it possibly take to make a cup of tea. The only other issue would be the whole balcony appearance, one can't really get the whole family on one of those senior's residence terraces.
I read a posting on a royal board regarding the palace as an eyesore and how Charles has some strong views on architecture, true enough so why not move? We might have to wait until Prince Charles' succeeds before the royals make a change but it's good to have a fresh start and Charles seems like just the guy to buck tradition. But just think of the moving costs and all of the packing tape required to move out. Best to keep costs as low as possible to the taxpayers. If he moves he's got two strapping boys to lift heavy objects, not to mention his future step-children, Tom and Laura to drive the moving vans and pick up pizza. If he needs more help he can always call in a favour from the Blairs, Kent's, Gloucesters, and the exiled Greek royals. But where to put everything? Windsor castle already has too much stuff and Clarence house doesn't seem like it has enough room. He would, of course need help with some of the more valuable objects as moving companies aren't always reliable. However sometimes we put a value on things which might be better off in someone else's basement .He could have a garage sale but then you have to put up with those bargain hunters who don't want to pay ticket price for the Rembrandt no matter how much you've marked it down.
Unfortunately the Queen and Phil wouldn't reap any financial windfall from selling the place as it doesn't belong to them. Lucky they're not poor otherwise they could be quite bitter about that. Given it's age it should be sold 'as is' so you don't need to spruce it up for potential buyers who might want to take a closer look at the plumbing and heating system. Mowing and weeding the 39 acres could be daunting to even the most ardent of gardeners, but there are still plenty of pluses for those who a serious about buying. Despite the facade, with nearly 600 rooms to choose from, there's plenty of room for a young couple just starting their family to expand and handy if you don't like your in-laws. Of course the property taxes and utility cost might deter but the 50,000 visitors who traipse through could be a source of revenue, kind of like a basement apartment. Since it's one of the most famous buildings in the world, you will need to tolerate the gawking and tourist buses but the pride you would feel in your home would make up for that. The back terrace will work great for family bbq's but as it's an annual tradition you'll have to rent out the the property for the royal garden parties. You might have help making the tea and sandwiches but you're on your own with clean up afterwards.
It would take a lot of work to maintain such a palace, what with the dusting and vacumming, window cleaning, floor polishing, etc. You would need to be the mother of all neat freaks to keep up with it. As the previous occupants would take their retinue of servants with them, you will need to do all of the work yourself. A large home is only appealing until you need to clean it. You could put dust covers over everything or in the time old tradition, cover all of the furniture in plastic but that could lead to a few sticky situations with guests and relatives.
Gasp! If it can't be sold, what about tearing the place down completely? Isn't that what we do with buildings that no longer appeal to us? Of course there might be some opposition from the historical societies, but don't they already have enough palaces to conserve? England is just littered with them. If the Queen and Phil want to keep the address they could have a custom bungalow built. Sure it wouldn't sell as many postcards or snow globes but that's what Windsor Castle is for.
I can just see the the Queen and Prince Philip snuggling on the sofa and putting their feet up on the coffee table.
Buckingham Bungalow - home sweet home.
© Marilyn Braun 2005
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