Buckingham Palace will undergo a massive 10-year overhaul that will cost roughly 369 million pounds, the United Kingdom’s Treasury announced Friday, citing the estate’s prestige and tourism.
The renovations, which the Treasury said are aimed at preventing risks of fire or flood and to protect the Royal Collection of art, will begin in April. Queen Elizabeth II will still reside at the palace while the work is done.
The cost to UK taxpayers, equivalent to more than $454 million, will result in a 10 percent “temporary” increase of the profits made from the Sovereign Grant, the fund that pays the Royal Family. The project will require Parliament’s approval.
"We take the responsibility that comes with receiving these public funds extremely seriously indeed; equally, we are convinced that by making this investment in Buckingham Palace now we can avert a much more costly and potentially catastrophic building failure in the years to come,” Master of the Queen’s Household Tony Johnstone-Burt told BBC News.
Though the price might seem high, preventing damage now to the 313-year-old palace will likely save funds in the future. The Treasury’s statement cited a fire at Windsor Castle in 1992 required five years of work afterwards, and that a similar accident at the palace would equate to nearly 250 million pounds for one wing alone.
Keeping the palace’s doors open for tourism is also of utmost importance and a significant reason behind the refurbishments. Tourism is the fastest growing part of the UK economy since 2010, accounting for 9.6 percent of jobs as of 2013. By 2025, it’s estimated the industry could climb to 257 billion bounds annually, according to the country’s official tourism site.
“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,” Treasury secretary David Gauke said in a statement.