Windsor Castle, where the Queen and Philip have spent the various coronavirus lockdowns, is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, but had to be significantly restored 29 years ago.
This is due to a devastating fire in 1992, which burned for 15 hours, and gutted the Palace’s inside, destroying 115 rooms and nine state rooms.
More than 200 firefighters from seven counties battled the flames with 36 pumps and 1.5 million gallons of water.
Luckily, most of the artwork in these rooms were saved by groups of people removing them from the path of the fire before it reached them, but large parts of the actual structure of the building were severely damaged from fire, smoke and water damage.
Prince Philip thought it was ‘curious’ the government did not want to pay for the restoration
Windsor Castle on fire in 1992
After the devastation, the Queen’s husband was made chair of the Restoration Committee, which involved the Department of National Heritage, English Heritage, The Royal Institution of British Architects and the Fine Arts Commission.
One key question was how would the restoration be funded.
Because the castle did not have insurance, whoever footed the bill would have to cough up tens of millions of pounds.
Taxpayers were outraged when it was initially suggested they should pay for the restoration and the burden was quickly shifted.
The fire destoyed over a hundred rooms and nine state rooms
However, Philip appeared to disagree with this decision, saying he found it “curious” that the Government did not want to commit to paying for a property owned by the Crown.
Speaking to the documentary ‘Windsor Castle Restored’, Philip added that unless people saw the mess for themselves, they would not understand why the money was needed.
He said: “Unless you actually went round the area that had been devastated, people had simply no idea what was involved.
“I don’t know why particularly, but they took one look at this and said, ‘This is not for the state to do anything about’.
Prince Philip reflecting on the funding decision in a documentary
“It was a curious reaction it seemed to me.
“I supposed they were horrified at the size of the damage and didn’t want to commit any further Government funds to it.
“The problem with properties that belong to the Government or to the state is they’re not insured so there was no insurance in this case because the Government carries its own insurance.
“And someone had the idea that if we opened the state apartments in Buckingham Palace and rearranged the entry fees at Windsor, we could probably make enough money to pay for the restoration, so that’s roughly what’s happened.”
The final cost for the restoration was £36.5million, which is upward of £70million in today’s money.
Around 70 percent of the costs were covered by entrance fees to Windsor and Buckingham Palace, plus the Queen contributed £2million of her own money.
The Queen also agreed to start paying income tax and capital gains tax from 1993 onwards, after public outrage over the suggestion taxpayers should pay for the Windsor Castle restoration.
St George’s Hall restored
Some of the rooms were restored exactly, while others were redesigned to either match older versions of the room’s decoration or to put a modern twist on the classic design.
St George’s Hall was restored to a design close to the room’s original 14th century appearance, but with a 20th century reinterpretation, while the chapel where the fire started was changed into a lantern lobby that formed a passageway between the private and state rooms.
It took five years for the castle to be fully restored, with the works completed on the 50th wedding anniversary of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK