In London, the real estate market has long been booming, forcing more and more locals to move out of town. Especially wealthy Russians have taken a liking to property in the British capital. If this continues, one could have joked, somebody will buy Buckingham Palace and kick the queen out of there.
But this, in fact, is happening: The palace has new owners.
How could this be? Well, not even the British royal family is immune to the effects of globalization. One of the trends is for people to move into “global” cities. As a consequence, housing prices in such places soar, because many of the newcomers are able to pay higher prices than locals.
Luxury residences are replacing decent low-cost apartments. But some of these mansions won’t even be inhabited, because speculators build or buy them just to resell them when the price has gone up further.
So even the future of Buckingham Palace is unclear right now.
I’m guessing you probably have some more questions. I’ll answer them the best I can.
How is this even possible?
Although Buckingham Palace, in the City of Westminster, has been the main residence of the British monarchs since the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, it’s not owned by the incumbent queen or king.
The palace belongs to the Crown Estate, a “statutory corporation” that is “accountable to the Parliament of the United Kingdom.”
With its 775 rooms, it seems to be an appropriate royal house, if not the world’s most valuable piece of real estate. On the other hand, over the decades, the colossus has fallen into disrepair. According to the tabloids, the place is worth a tremendous £1 billion and would need renovations costing British taxpayers £369 million.
The palace is not immune to depreciation. Given that London real estate prices have already started declining in anticipation of Brexit, the British Parliament may have decided to capitalize on the palace as long as it’s profitable.
Who bought the palace?
The British royal family has been mum on the sale of Buckingham Palace, although London is alight with speculation.
It’s rumored that attractive offers were on the table from Moscow and St. Petersburg oligarchs. But amid the current diplomatic crisis between the U.K. and Russia over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Salisbury, England, the British were not inclined to cede such a central national icon to them, according to reports.
Other rumors pointed to real estate tycoon Donald Trump as the successful bidder: first, because he wished to add a London branch to his chain of hotels and resorts, and second because he wanted to take revenge on Queen Elizabeth for not having met with him yet. However, the U.S. president has now tweeted a denial, calling Buckingham Palace “a hopeless ruin filled with outdated furniture. Wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole – totally a bad deal!”
While chasing down leads, The Leipzig Glocal’s U.K. correspondent identified a London real estate agent who was involved in the alleged transaction. This person granted LeipGlo an exclusive comment, under the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
According to the agent, the new owner of Buckingham Palace is a Saudi prince.
“This would ensure that the property still remains in royal hands (the Saudi royals’), and therefore dignified,” the exclusive LeipGlo source said. “Apart from that, a price of £1 billion would, for some Saudi prince, be what his family spends during a shopping trip to London anyway. And now with the palace, they could even store their new designer clothes, etc., in London without needing additional planes to take everything to Riyadh at once. We mustn’t forget that also oil billionaires are nowadays aware of their responsibility towards the environment.”
Some other highly trustworthy – though highly secret – sources have confirmed to LeipGlo that Buckingham Palace has been sold. It is unclear how the buyers will make use of the property. It is also unclear when the royal family will have to vacate the premises, although preparations for their move are reportedly already being made.
Where’s the queen going?
For pretty much all of her 66+ years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip (the Duke of Edinburgh), have resided at Buckingham Palace. Viewers of the recent Netflix series on Elizabeth’s early reign, The Crown, know that both Elizabeth and Philip have never really liked the place, because a historic monument is hardly a home.
Nevertheless, after all those decades, it will be hard for the royal couple to permanently move somewhere else, all the more so given their advanced ages of 91 and 96, respectively. If they choose one of the other royal residences in London – for example Clarence House – it may have to be adapted to the needs of senior citizens.
Besides, the other residences wouldn’t have a balcony like Buckingham Palace, from which the royal family could on special occasions wave to the crowds. A suitable balcony would have to be improvised.
The queen may prefer to move away from London altogether, sharing the fate of many other (ex-)Londoners in recent years. But unlike most other locals, she has the luxury of being able to take up residence at one of her private properties out of town.
Some sources close to the queen tell LeipGlo that she may choose Balmoral Castle in Scotland as her new residence.
As the queen traditionally spends her summer holidays there, it may be her favorite anyway.
Prince Philip, notorious for not caring much about political correctness, may even be looking forward to the imminent change of palace. Undisclosed sources quoted him as saying, “At long last, we don’t have to live in a museum anymore, and if the new inhabitants are indeed from Saudi Arabia, their long robes will keep the floor free from dust, something our staff never fully accomplished.”