The British royal family has many gorgeous homes. But one of the most interesting is Buckingham Palace, a massive residence that measures 830,000 square feet. That sounds like plenty of space for all the royals to live under one roof. But does the British royal family live in Buckingham Palace? Here’s what you need to know about this unique residence, and where the royals really hang their (many) hats.
Does the royal family live in Buckingham Palace?
Buckingham Palace and the Mall in London | mikeinlondon/iStock/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II lives in Buckingham Palace, Harper’s Bazaar reports. But few other members of the royal family spend their time at the massive London residence. And even Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, don’t live at Buckingham Palace full-time. Buckingham serves as the queen’s working residence during the week, when she and the Duke of Edinburgh stay in London.
However, they escape to Windsor Castle most weekends. Plus, they spend every August and September at Balmoral in Scotland; come Christmas, they head to Sandringham in Norfolk.
Do the rest of the royals live nearby?
So if most of the royal family doesn’t live at Buckingham Palace, do they at least live nearby? Most of them do. As Harper’s Bazaar notes, Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, live at Clarence House, the London residence where the Queen Mother lived from 1953 until her death in 2002. Prince William, Kate Middleton, and their three children split their time between Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace (in London) and Anmer Hall at Sandringham in Norfolk. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also live at Kensington Palace.
Princess Anne maintains a London residence at St. James’s Palace but spends most of her time at Gatcombe Park. Prince Andrew lives at the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park. One of his daughters, Princess Eugenie, lives at Kensington Place, while the other, Princess Beatrice, spends most of her time in New York. Prince Edward and his wife spend most of their time at Bagshot Park in Surrey, where they live with their two children.
Will future monarchs move to Buckingham Palace?
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge walk hand in hand from Buckingham Palace. | John Stillwell – WPA Pool/Getty Images
When the queen dies, Prince Charles will succeed her to the throne. But will he move into Buckingham Palace? The Daily Beast reports that he may not. “The Queen has never liked it, and Charles doesn’t want to live there,” the publication explains. Various reports have suggested that Prince Charles may use the palace as a “monarchy HQ,” and open it to visitors for longer periods of the year than currently allowed by the queen’s schedule.
A story in The Sunday Times reported that Prince Charles doesn’t see Buckingham Palace as “a viable future home or a house that’s fit for purpose in the modern world. He feels its upkeep, both from a cost and environmental perspective, is not sustainable.” Though Charles is likely to use Buckingham Palace for official entertaining — and for housing visiting heads of state — it’s looking increasingly likely that he will continue to live at Clarence House even once he becomes king.
How does the palace look today?
Buckingham Palace has served as the London residence of the British monarch since 1837. And The Daily Beast reports that since that time, the massive building has become “run down and mouse-infested.” The publication adds that “The roofs and walls are full of asbestos and buckets are often used to catch rainwater during heavy downpours.”
The British government has undertaken a $500 million, 10-year refurbishment plan. The renovations will include replacing 100 miles of electrical cabling, 30 miles of water pipes, 6,500 electrical sockets, 5,000 light fittings, 2,500 radiators, and 500 pieces of sanitary ware. But The Daily Beast reports that “even this upgrade has reportedly failed to convince Charles that it would be a pleasant place to live.”
What does Prince William think?
Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate Middleton watch the RAF flypast on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. | Chris Jackson/ Getty Images
Prince Charles is next in the line of succession to the throne. And after Charles comes Prince William, who agrees with his father about the state of Buckingham Palace. Vogue reports that William “reportedly wholeheartedly agrees with his father’s logic, believing it is too expensive and unwieldy.” That could mean that William, Kate, George, Charlotte, and Louis could continue living at Kensington Palace instead of moving to Buckingham Palace when William becomes king.
Charles and William aren’t the first members of the royal family to look with distaste at Buckingham Palace. Vogue explains, “With its 775 rooms, the monarch’s official London residence may be grand, but, it’s not exactly homey. Edward VII allegedly called it a ‘mausoleum,’ the Duke of Windsor reportedly likened it to a ‘prison.'”
Read more: Everything You’ll See on a Tour of the Palace
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