Buckingham Palace should be open year-round — as are the Vatican and the White House — to pay for maintenance, the anti-monarchy group Republic said.
This weekend, the palace welcomed its first paying visitors since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
But after renovation costs rose for this year’s platinum anniversary — construction work paid for by taxpayers — questions have been raised about who should pay the price.
Republic chief executive Graham Smith said Buckingham Palace is important to the nation and should not be neglected.
But something has to change, especially now that the Queen is spending more time in Windsor, he said.
He told Sky News: “MPs have been saying for years that you should open the palace to tourists all year round.
“With that ticket revenue you raise, you can fund these kinds of repairs and restorations without having to go back to the treasury.
“We have hospitals and schools, police forces struggling to make ends meet.
‘An absurd waste of money’
“We are arguing about keeping wages low in the public sector and all the while we are pouring millions and millions of pounds into repairing this one building.
“It’s an absurd waste of money.”
Explaining how palace officials have been under pressure for years to change funding status, he added: “It was pointed out that the Vatican was open year-round, home to the Catholic Church.
It was pointed out that the White House is open to tourists most of the year, the home of the President of the United States.
“So Buckingham Palace should be open all year round at any time, but it’s mostly a haunted building now, people don’t live there.
“The Queen is in Windsor, Charles lives in Clarence House of Highgrove or one of his other many houses, and it’s mostly just housing staff as far as I know.
“There’s just no reason to leave it unused all year round, except for the occasional garden party.”
A popular tourist attraction
The Queen decided to open the palace to the public 30 years ago after a fire at Windsor Castle.
The idea was that the income from visitors to Buckingham Palace would help pay for repairs to the castle.
The first visitors arrived in the summer of 1993.
This year, visitors can see an exhibition marking the platinum anniversary, as well as the results of the renovation.
The repairs will be financed from the sovereign subsidy – that means taxpayers’ money.
In 2017, MPs controversially agreed that the grant would be increased over 10 years to allocate £369 million towards the Buckingham Palace refurbishment.
Costs were the highest to date last year at £47.8 million – £16.2 million more than the year before.
There’s no doubt that the Buckingham Palace opening every summer is a popular tourist attraction, and in years when there are major royal celebrations, the interest is even greater.
‘The interest really comes from Her Majesty the Queen herself’
Caroline de Guitaut, curator of the Platinum Jubilee exhibition, told Sky News: “I think these exhibitions and exhibitions undoubtedly increase the interest, but I think the interest really comes from Her Majesty The Queen herself.
“She’s clearly a global figure and the sheer scale of the celebrations and the interest around the platinum anniversary we celebrated a few weeks ago I think is indicative of how that’s really manifesting.”
The exhibition charts the Queen’s reign through photographs, including those by acclaimed society photographer Dorothy Wilding.
These were used to produce stamps and banknotes depicting the head of state.
There are also jewelry from the monarch’s collection.
The state chambers at Buckingham Palace will open until October 2.
(c) Sky News 2022: Buckingham Palace ‘must be open all year to pay for maintenance’