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Queen Elizabeth to vacate her Buckingham Palace rooms for refit, says official

London

BRITAIN'S Queen Elizabeth will vacate her private rooms at Buckingham Palace in 2025 as part of a 10-year refit of the building to prevent a catastrophic disaster such as a fire or a flood, a senior royal official said on Friday.

The palace is undergoing a £369 million pound (S$665 million) reservicing programme to replace ageing and dangerous electrical wiring and boilers which started in April last year and is due to be completed in 2027.

Towards the end of the works, the 92-year-old monarch and her husband Philip, 97, will have to move out of their apartments in the palace's north wing for about two years when work starts there in 2025.

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"The queen is immensely pragmatic and she wants to stay in the palace," a senior royal official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

"She said let me know where you would like me to go."

Next week, a compound for builders will be erected on the forecourt of the palace as work starts on the famous east wing, the public facade which houses the balcony on which Queen Elizabeth and her family appear for significant events.

The palace will remain fully open for state visits and other regular events during the overhaul and its outward appearance will be unaffected as there will be no scaffolding.

Buckingham Palace was originally a large house built in 1703 and was acquired by King George III in 1761.

It was extended in the reign of Queen Victoria while the front was refaced in 1914 when George V was king. REUTERS