At the start of 2017 Kensington Palace issued a statement confirming that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be moving full time to their London apartment. Putting all London builders on alert for one of the jobs of the decade, it will not be your normal refurbishment. The move by the family is expected to be in the autumn and will allow Prince William and Kate Middleton to take on more royal responsibilities. With the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh starting to slow down a little the House of Windsor is increasingly looking to its younger charges.
The apartment in Kensington Palace has been used by the Cambridge’s as their official residence since 2014. However, it was only after an extravagant and luxurious makeover – at a cost of around £4.5m. The builders working on the major project were no doubt challenged constantly and well-deserved every pound. Despite that multimillion pound spend though the property is not, it would appear, yet ready for the arrival of the full family. With Prince George and Princess Charlotte joining their mum and dad yet more home improvements are apparently required.
The Kensington Palace flat, Apartment 1A, has 22 rooms. However, that would appear not to be enough space. According to the plans submitted to the local authority the palace will see a three-storey extension; two of which are to be underground.
This is very much on trend. An increasing volume of work undertaken by London builders throughout the capital is seeing wide scale basement renovations. Neglected for a number of decades by many home owners, many of those fortunate enough to have a basement are really starting to exploit the space. Popular renovations include multimedia rooms, home cinemas, swimming pools, kitchens and bathrooms. It is little surprise therefore that the plans for the royal renovation are much in keeping – with more than a modicum of extras of course.
The plans show the extension will be located next to the Orangery. It will see the present 165-foot basement have an additional 1500 square feet added; freeing up the suites on the upper floors for the family. The basement is presently used as a restaurant for visitors to the palace but the works will see the selected London builders transform it into office space. Once complete, many of the 100-strong staff will move to their new underground accommodation from the current location closer to the royal’s private suites.
Basement offices are not the most desired of working spaces of course, whether as home office or otherwise. These renovations though will not see the creation of a dark and dank space though. The so called ‘iceberg’ basement will be bathed with natural daylight and well ventilated through a system of modern skylights.
Though possibly the most high profile of royal apartment renovations scheduled to take place over coming months, there are others of note too. Taking up a good swathe of press column inches recently has been the funding for renovations to Buckingham Palace. The iconic building, among the most photographed in the world, is currently at risk of a catastrophic building failure. Construction and building experts have suggested that the ancient wiring and plumbing could contribute to an increased risk of fire and water leaks which would result in the building becoming uninhabitable.