Buckingham Palace Reservicing London

Buckingham Palace Reservicing London architecture photos, Royal Family building UK, Yellow Drawing Room picture

Buckingham Palace Reservicing

Key British Royal Family Residence Restoration, southeast England, UK

post updated 26 March 2024

Buckingham Palace Reservicing: Works Move Into East Wing

New footage has been released by Buckingham Palace documenting the continuation of vital ‘reservicing’ work taking place in the iconic building.

20 October 2019

Buckingham Palace Building Reservicing News

The video shows maintenance underway in the famous Yellow Drawing Room in the East Wing of the palace, specifically focusing on temporarily removing and rejuvenating the 19th Century Chinese wallpaper that hangs in the room.

Film on YouTube

The building work in the East Wing is being undertaken as part of a 10 year long, palace-wide reservicing plan and, as with any important property maintenance and repair job, experts were recruited to plan out and perform the work necessary in bringing the regal building up to modern health and safety standards.

The Yellow Drawing Room was designed by Edward Blore in the 1840s as a place for Queen Victoria to entertain guests and as a living space for her expanding family. One of its features is the famous balcony that members of the royal family congregate on during certain events like royal weddings.

The famous royal balcony is a key feature of the Yellow Drawing Room:
Buckingham Palace Royal family on balcony London
photograph © Magnus D, 2011

It also features Chinese wallpaper from the early 19th Century originally from King George IV’s Brighton Pavilion.

Discovered by Queen Mary after World War 1, it was put up in the East Wing room as has remained there until now.

Temporary removal

The wallpaper is being temporarily removed and restored by professionals so that it doesn’t become damaged or disturbed during the building works being undertaken.

In addition to the removal of wallpaper, rewiring and plumbing work is being done in the room, with a lift being installed in the East Wing to improve accessibility to the area.

The last time the palace received a major update was in the 1950s, when a lot of the building’s utilities had to be repaired or replaced after the second world war.

Safety fears

According to the official royal website, a lot of work needs to be done to prevent “a catastrophic failure involving fire or flood”.

Safety fears for the building are well-founded; 92% of the electric boards in the palace have reached their design lifespan or exceeded it, with more than 130 circuits over 60 years old.

This is of concern due to the increased risk of electrical fires and electrocutions associated with the age of the circuitry, given that newer and far safer electric components have superseded the current ones.

As many of the older circuits are in ornate state rooms, extra care will need to be taken not to damage the décor when replacing components

Much of the pipework and electrics at the palace are over 60 years old and unsafe:
Buckingham Palace Reservicing London
photograph courtesy of Pixabay

Pipework is also of major concern, with most of the heating pipework running throughout the palace being over 60 years old as well, with valves that are in poor condition.

As this could cause flood damage in the building if something went wrong, replacing the original pipework has been made a priority.

In May last year, the palace’s boilers were replaced with modern appliances that are predicted to save 300 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, with some rewiring and plumbing works having also been done in the first period of the rejuvenation.

Controversy over cost

The cost of the work has been controversial to say the least, with a cost of around £370m forecast.

The funds will come from the Sovereign grant, which is given to the royal family by the UK government in order to fund their activities every year.

It was agreed by parliament in 2016 that an increase in the grant was the most practical way to pay for the much-needed updates, and so a reported £19.6m of taxpayer’s money was put forward to the royal household for this.

During this period of maintenance, the palace will still continue to host guests and let eager tourists enjoy a tour of the most famous of the Queen’s homes.

Buckingham Palace

The Mall, SW1, central London

Originally a grand house, remodelling of this substantial building began in 1762 by Scottish architect William Chambers (though born in Gothenburg, Sweden).

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King George IV decided to modify Buckingham House into a palace around 1820 using the famous English architect John Nash who planned the grand Regent Street not far to the north.

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Buckingham Palace  London England
photo © Adrian Welch

Built by the Duke of Buckingham in 1703-05

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