Queen’s homes including Buckingham Palace at ‘high risk’ of devastating fires
The Queen’s homes are at “high risk” of a devastating fire, a report reveals.
Officials have concerns that the £369million refurbishment of royal homes could be a real danger.
A risk assessment by the Lord Chamberlain’s Committee raised fears of an inferno similar to the blaze that tore through Windsor Castle in 1992.
The threat level has jumped from medium to high in just a year.
A royal source said: “A blaze would be catastrophic, particularly with the strain of the fallout over Prince Andrew and Harry and Meghan’s exit.”
The risk assessment highlighted the dangers caused by the decade-long refurbishment of Buckingham Palace and other royal residences, which began in 2017.
A number of works are taking place – including the replacement of 1940s electric cable, which has been branded a fire risk.
The committee’s report found there was risk of “a significant fire resulting in serious harm to a member of the Royal Family, staff, supplier, tenant, guest, visitor or member of the emergency services; and/or significant damage to one of the Occupied Royal Palaces and/or their contents”.
Royal residences – which house priceless works of art – had a medium fire risk in 2018/19.
The committee raised it to high in their 2019/20 report. It explained: “As risks are increased during major property refurbishments, e.g. reservicing of Buckingham Palace, re-roofing of Windsor Castle and other Occupied Royal Palaces, the Residual risk rating has increased.”
The Queen was so upset by the 1992 Windsor Castle inferno that she called that year her “annus horribilis”.
The fire was started by a spotlight which ignited a curtain near the altar of Queen Victoria’s private chapel and ended up destroying 115 rooms.
It cost £36.5million to repair the damage at the castle, which is where the Queen has been staying during the pandemic.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Committee reveals the London Fire Brigade have carried out secret fire drills at Buckingham Palace.
Out-of-hours fire patrols also take place and safety measures have been boosted across the royal estate. As well as rewiring, boilers and pipes are also being replaced.
The royals are also said to be at “high” financial risk, partly due to the freezing of the taxpayer-funded royal grant for the next two financial years due to coronavirus cuts.
Medium risks include failure to effectively run palace operations, health and safety incidents and cyber breaches of the royals’ IT system.
Yesterday the royal household declined to comment – but a source said major construction work always comes with a fire risk.
The insider added that a fire prevention strategy is in place.
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