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Buckingham Palace hasn’t quite turned into a fixer upper, but the centuries-old mansion is definitely showing its age.
The home of Queen Elizabeth is in need of roughly 369 million pounds (about $455 million) worth of major repairs. The fixes will “future proof” the palace and prevent putting it at risk from fire, flood and other danger, the palace said in a statement and at a news conference.
About 100 miles of electric cables, much of it 60 years old, along with lead pipes, thousands of light fixtures and wall outlets, and about 2,500 radiators will be fixed during the renovation.
Work will begin in April and will last for the next 10 years. The queen, who turned 90 earlier this year, will remain in residence during the construction.
Palace officials estimate that once benefits, energy efficiencies and inflation are taken into account, the actual price tag of of the work will be about 222 million pounds ($274 million).
The renovations will be paid partially through a temporary 10 percent increase in the Sovereign Grant, the account funded by the United Kingdom government to maintain the operational costs of running the queen’s household and the crown estate.
News of the publicly-funded repairs led to the creation of a petition demanding that the royal family foot the bill for the palace renovations. More than 12,000 people have signed the petition, which questions why the monarchy was getting so much additional money during a national housing crisis and period of austerity.
“Now the Royals expect us to dig deeper to refurbish Buckingham Palace,” the petition states. “The Crown's wealth is inestimable. This is, in a word, outrageous.”
Buckingham Palace pointed to an independent report that concluded that the building and the valuable items it houses, including many of the art and other priceless works in the Royal Collection, are at risk of serious damage.
"Buckingham Palace is one of the most iconic buildings in the world, and this program is designed to extend its working life by a further 50 years," said Tony Johnstone-Burt, master of the queen's household.
"On completion of the work, we'll have a palace fit for purpose until 2067," he said. "The program addresses parts of the structure you can't see from the outside: the plumbing, electrics and other essential building services which have gone six decades without a comprehensive upgrade."
Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms, including 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.
The Palace also defended the renovations as money well spent because of the tourists it attracts, including more than half a million people who tour the mansion each summer.
“The works program will increase public access and improve visitor facilities, as well as create a more energy-efficient working environment for the more than 300 people who work at the Palace, including members of The Royal Family," according to a palace statement.