The Monarch’s lavish living quarters at Buckingham Palace are set to be reduced to little more than ‘a flat above the shop’ when Prince Charles becomes King.
The plan is part of a radical drive to overhaul the vast Royal estate, which will involve the official London residence being thrown open to the public more than ever before.
Other changes being considered under Charles’s wide-ranging plans include turning Balmoral into a museum to the Queen and moving the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge into Windsor Castle, The Mail on Sunday understands.
Charles is said not to want the Berkshire residence for himself as its position under the Heathrow flight path makes it ‘too noisy’.
The Monarch’s living quarters at Buckingham Palace are set to be reduced to little more than ‘a flat above the shop’ when Prince Charles (pictured with Camilla in Scotland) becomes King
The plan is part of a radical drive to overhaul the vast Royal estate, which will involve the official London residence (pictured) being thrown open to the public more than ever
The Prince of Wales is planning to dramatically slim down the Monarchy once he ascends the throne – and a friend confirmed: ‘The property question is on the ‘to do’ list.’
He has been meeting with courtiers to discuss what happens to the palaces when the direct line of accession is reduced to himself and Camilla, plus the Cambridges.
The source said: ‘The central point is: when the Queen is no longer here, how do you effectively spread two generations of the family across quite a large number of properties?
‘The Prince of Wales strongly believes that these places have got to deliver something for the public beyond just being somewhere for members of the Royal Family to live. Everything is seen through the lens of the question: ‘What value is this offering to the public?’
‘Everybody recognises it makes no sense to run so many residences but if you give them up entirely you will never get them back when Prince George and the younger Royals grow up and need somewhere to live.’
Charles faces a daunting diplomatic task to persuade his family over the changes.
Other changes being considered under Charles’s wide-ranging plans include moving the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge into Windsor Castle (pictured), The Mail on Sunday understands
Charles is also considering turning Balmoral Castle (pictured), the Scottish holiday home to the Royal Family, into a museum to the Queen
The Duke of York is said to be particularly anxious about his home, Park Lodge in Windsor Great Park. However, courtiers say there is no suggestion he will be asked to move.
Prince Edward and Princess Anne are also said to be safe in Bagshot Park at Windsor and Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire respectively.
QUEEN REMEMBERS PHILIP ON SCOTLAND TRIP
The Queen yesterday made her first public comments about her late husband, recalling ‘the many happy memories’ of their time together in Scotland.
The Queen yesterday made her first public comments about her late husband, recalling ‘the many happy memories’ of their time together in Scotland
At the opening of the Scottish Parliament – accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay, as Charles and Camilla are known in Scotland – she said: ‘I have spoken before of my deep and abiding affection for this wonderful country and of the many happy memories Prince Philip and I always held of our time here. It is often said that it is the people that make a place, and there are few places where this is truer than in Scotland.’
In a sign of the soft diplomacy which has symbolised her nearly 70-year reign, she wore a Queen Mary diamond thistle brooch – the national emblem of Scotland.
In a sign of the soft diplomacy which has symbolised her nearly 70-year reign, the Queen wore a Queen Mary diamond thistle brooch during a visit to Scotland
But others – including Andrew’s daughters Beatrice and Eugenie – will be vying for accommodation in the reshuffle.
Buckingham Palace, which is undergoing a ten-year, £369 million renovation, is set to be opened up on a much greater scale, with public access all year round instead of the usual seasonal admission.
Meanwhile, the Monarch’s living quarters – which currently include 52 Royal and guest bedrooms and 188 staff bedrooms – will be dramatically cut.
A friend of Charles said: ‘Despite what everybody thinks about him not wanting to live there, he will certainly have accommodation there – but it will be a much more modest flat-above-the-shop situation akin to that of the Prime Minister at Downing Street.
‘Both the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall are very practical and see that the reigning Monarch must live at Buckingham Palace, otherwise it would become like Hampton Court’ – a visitor attraction rather than a working royal palace.
The friend added that the Cambridges are likely to move to Windsor – a relocation the family are said to want.
‘Charles is not keen on Windsor because it is quite noisy,’ the source added: ‘His view is that if he’s heading to Windsor, he may as well carry on to Highgrove in Gloucestershire.’
Charles is expected to keep his beloved Highgrove as his family home. It is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, which William will inherit when Charles becomes King. Then William will be his father’s landlord, taking £700,000 a year rent.
In London, Charles’s official Clarence House residence was originally earmarked for Harry but his departure to California means that is ‘no longer on the cards’.
It is now more likely to be saved for Prince George, Princess Charlotte or Prince Louis, although its outdated decor is a turn-off for younger Royals.
A source said: ‘No one is terribly fond of Clarence House because it’s still seen very much as the Queen Mother’s place.’
Charles intends to keep another of his grandmother’s properties – Birkhall in Scotland, which he inherited on her death in 2002 and one of the few places where he is said to feel at home.
It is part of the Balmoral Estate, the Queen’s favourite residence. Balmoral’s grounds and gardens are closed to the public in the summer when she is in residence but under Charles, there is set to be far greater access.
A source said: ‘The talk is of opening a museum paying tribute to the Queen.’
Even Sandringham in Norfolk, which is privately owned by the Royal Family, might be opened up to the public when Charles inherits it.
Wood Farm, the cottage in the grounds where Prince Philip spent his latter years, could be mothballed for future generations.
The Cambridges look set to keep Anmer Hall, the nearby mansion which the Queen gave them after their 2011 wedding and also stand to inherit Llwynywermod, the Welsh home of the Prince of Wales.