Instead, in the seven months since he became king, Charles and Camilla have kept their base nearby Clarence’s housethe five-bedroom white stucco mansion where they lived together for 20 years.
He told friends and government officials that he intended to stay there.
That’s a break from the previous five monarchs, who all lived in private apartments on the north side of the palace – even if some of them never liked it.
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Palace officials cited ongoing construction as the reason Charles did not move.
A spokesperson said in an email: “Buckingham Palace is currently in the middle of a 10-year reservation program. The private apartments are at the end of that program, so it is not possible for Their Majesties to move at present. It remains this is what they are expected to do when the job is done.
“For now, BP remains the heart of official business for Their Majesties and the wider Royal Household.”
Charles will still go to the 775-room palace for meetings, conferences, and state functions. “He uses it all the time,” said a government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the palace was not authorized to comment publicly.
But as far as a place to live, by most accounts Charles preferred Clarence House, where his grandmother, with whom he was close, lived before him.
When in Scotland, officials said, he would not stay at Balmoral Castle, where his mother died, but at Birkhall, a smaller home on that estate that he inherited from his grandmother.
“The headquarters of the British monarchy is Buckingham Palace and the sovereign lives there … But the king can change that,” said Dickie Arbiter, a former press secretary to Queen Elizabeth II. “My guess is that he will probably stay at Clarence House because he likes it there.”
Arbiter added: “Buckingham Palace isn’t really the kind of place anyone wants to live in, to be honest. It’s too big.”
The palace is massive — 15 times larger than the White House — and includes 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms and 78 bathrooms. A member of the royal household said it took 10 minutes for a waiter to bring canapés on silver trays from the basement kitchen to guests in the reception room.
In his book “Becoming,” Michelle Obama described staying in a “sumptuous bedroom suite,” attending a grand banquet and getting a tour. “We were told things like ‘This is our Blue Room,’ our guide gestured to a vast hall five times the size of our Blue Room at home,” he wrote.
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Buckingham Palace is “remarkable and incomprehensible at the same time,” he said.
George W. Bush wrote in his memoirs about staying in the palace’s Belgian Suite. He was impressed by the antiques estimated to be worth millions of dollars and the “beautiful view of the palace gardens.”
But even though foreign dignitaries admired the gilded ceilings and priceless art, this was not an expensive home.
Charles was born at Buckingham Palace and lived there for most of his childhood, which by many accounts was not the happiest.
“It was not a very nice place to live, because it was in the middle of the city, and when you walked outside you were surrounded by people,” said royal biographer William Shawcross. “There is no privacy, except in the garden and now it is increasingly overlooked by tall buildings.”
More than a few members of the royal family hid behind cars to try to get away without being noticed by the media or the public. Some have described the palace as a gilded cage.
“I was often alone when I lived there. It’s a sad time,” Sarah Ferguson, Prince Andrew’s ex-wife, told The Washington Post in 2009. Ferguson made “The Young Victoria,” a film that shows the sadness inside Buckingham Palace.
“None of the royals are fans of the palace,” said a second government official. “Big, Victorian and drafty. Imagine sitting in a huge room with triple-height ceilings and huge windows. This is not a normal house with a sofa and a television.”
Queen Victoria, Charles’ great-grandmother, was the first sovereign to rule from the palace, but her favorite home is said to be Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.
Historians say that Queen Elizabeth II did not want to move into Buckingham Palace when she became queen in 1952. She has lived at Clarence House since her marriage five years ago, and her husband, Philip, only oversees the overhauling that residence.
“The queen prefers to stay at Clarence House,” said Hugo Vickers, author of “The Crown: Fact and Fiction.” But Prime Minister Winston Churchill “forced him to move.”
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Elizabeth relented, but she didn’t like it. He spent his summers at his private Balmoral Castle in the Scottish highlands. For the rest of the year, he spent most weekends at Windsor Castle, west of London, where he had space to walk his dogs and ride his horses.
Staff at Windsor proudly refer to the castle as “home” and Buckingham Palace as “office.” When the covid pandemic hit, he left the palace for good and moved to Windsor.
It was a night to remember when Daniel Craig appeared as James Bond to accompany Her Majesty The Queen at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games! pic.twitter.com/C174bSyKkq
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In a sign of changing times, Charles does not face the intense pressure that Elizabeth did to move to Buckingham Palace, two government officials said.
But after a $450-million, 10-year overhaul of the palace’s plumbing, wiring and other guts, the public will want to make sure it’s put to good use.
Charles is expected to extend the time the palace is open to paying visitors to help recover future upkeep.
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It is now a top tourist attraction, with people flocking to the gates to see the Changing of the Guard throughout the year. But the palace’s state rooms are only open to tourists for 10 weeks in the summer – the weeks Elizabeth is usually in Scotland.
Charles, Arbiter, said, “want to see better use of Buckingham Palace, maybe open it more months of the year. He also wants to see fewer people working in the organization.” According to the latest palace report, there are 491 full-time staff working in occupied royal palaces.
Robert Lacey, a royal biographer and a historical consultant to “The Crown,” said parts of the palace could be opened more to the public. But he expected the royal work to continue there as well.
Foreign leaders and ambassadors “don’t want to go to Clarence House,” he said. “They want photographs back in their news agencies back home driving through the gates of Buckingham Palace and being welcomed into the Throne Room.”
Robert Jobson, a royal biographer, predicted: “It will be more of a ‘people’s palace,’ with more events. But the royals are still working there. So it won’t be like Versailles and we don’t cut off their heads with the guillotine.”
She said she still expects Charles to eventually move on. And he is “pretty sure” William will live there, when he succeeds his father as king. “Monarchs live in the palace,” Jobson said. “And arrangements will be made at that time.”