HK$12m of public funds to refurbish Kensington Palace for William, Kate
Used as an office since Princess Margaret's death, Kensington Palace to get makeover
The public cost of refurbishing the Kensington Palace apartment that will be the new home of Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, will be £1 million (HK$11.9 million), the queen's accounts reveal.
Home to Princess Margaret until her death in 2002, apartment IA, which has 21 rooms over four storeys, has since been used as office and storage space. Asbestos removal will cost about £600,000; repairs and a new roof have already cost £400,000.
The apartment, to be completely refitted, has recently been used by Historic Royal Palaces, a charity that looks after a number of royal residences.
Kensington Palace, or "the aunt heap" as the Duke of Windsor referred to it in a nod to its reputation as a home for supposedly "hard-up" royal relations, became a palace when William of Orange bought it in 1689, and was improved and extended by Sir Christopher Wren.
At one stage Margaret and her husband, Lord Snowdon, jazzed it up with a pink, turquoise and orange scheme. Its 21 rooms include a drawing room, staff quarters and nursery.
On Thursday, Buckingham Palace defended the queen's funding after it emerged she will receive a multimillion-pound increase over the next two years via the government's new system for financing the monarchy.
Under the sovereign grant, calculated as 15 per cent of the profits of the crown estate, the queen will receive £37.89 million from the state next year, a 5 per cent increase on this year's grant of £36.1 million and more than £5 million above her £32.3 million expenditure in 2011-12.
A day earlier the spending review presented by finance minister George Osborne outlined national cuts of £11.5 billion, including new limits on state welfare.
A royal aide said the palace did not feel uncomfortable with the increase, adding that the funds would be used to tackle a backlog of building repairs that would take 10 years to clear.