Buckingham Palace is to under a facelift costing 456 million U.S.dollars, it was announced Friday.
Details of the project were released by the palace as well as the government’s Treasury Department.
Both said the planned 10-year overhaul will protect one of Britain’s most prestigious buildings and one of the country’s most popular attractions.
The Treasury in its statement said the government has given the go-ahead for essential works that include replacing electrical wiring, water pipes and the heating system, which were installed in the aftermath of the Second World War.
Details of the project were announced Friday at Buckingham Palace by the Master of The Queen’s Household Tony Johnstone-Burt.
He said: “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. On completion of the work, we’ll have a Palace fit for purpose until 2067.”
More than half a million people visit the palace during its summer opening and millions of tourists flock to its gates every year to see the Changing of the Guard.
The Treasury said the palace is estimated to deliver a multi-billion-dollar boost to the British economy.
In addition, the palace hosts more than 90,000 people every year, for a range of official events from small receptions to state visits and garden parties.
The most critical work will begin in April 2017 with Queen Elizabeth II remaining in residence throughout. Major events including the Queen’s annual garden parties, investitures, Trooping the Colour, State Visits, Changing of the Guard and the Buckingham Palace Summer Opening will all continue as normal, said a spokeswoman at the palace.
A Treasury spokesman said: “The project seeks to prevent a serious risk of fire, flood and damage to both the building and the priceless Royal Collection of art belonging to the nation.”
“Windsor Castle suffered a fire in 1992, which raged for nine hours and caused devastation to large parts of the building. The restoration took more than five years, and it is estimated that similar damage to Buckingham Palace could cost up to 250 million pounds (309 million U.S.dollars) for a single wing (of the palace).”
The overhaul will also help to significantly improve visitor access, especially to schools, to help open up the palace and its treasures even further to the public.
The works will be funded through a temporary increase in the grant the Queen receives from 15 percent to 25 percent of the Crown Estate’s profits for the duration of the 10-year work program.
The phased program will be carried out wing-by-wing to enable the palace to remain occupied and fully operational, and allow the Queen to carry on with her official duties for the country.
David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “Tourists are drawn to this country because of our culture, heritage and royal legacy, and when they visit they spend billions of pounds and support thousands of jobs.
“We must ensure that the special architectural and historic nature of some of our greatest buildings are protected for future generations, therefore it is only right we ensure the Buckingham Palace is fit for purpose.” Enditem