London: Britain’s royal family are to move out of the famous front wing of London’s Buckingham Palace later this year as part of a multi-million pound building repair project, palace aides said .
The royal household will “decant” from the east wing of the palace, the public facade which houses the balcony on which Queen Elizabeth and her family appear for significant events, as part a program of urgent work to replace aging electrical wiring and heating systems.
“In terms of the outward appearance of the front of the palace I think that people will notice very little change,” said a palace spokesman, adding there would be no need for scaffolding.
News of the renovations was revealed by royal aides as they gave details of the “Sovereign Grant”, the annual government handout that covers staffing costs, upkeep of royal palaces and travel expenses.
The grant is based on 15 percent of surplus revenue from the Crown Estate, a property portfolio belonging to the monarchy, from two years previously. In 2016, this percentage was raised to 25 percent for a decade to pay for the overhaul of Buckingham Palace.
That meant the royals received 76.1 million pounds for 2017-18 and next year will get 82.2 million pounds. Michael Stevens, the queen’s treasurer, known as Keeper of the Privy Purse, said the cost of the monarchy to every Briton last year equated to 69 pence, up four pence from last year.
Buckingham Palace was originally a large house townhouse built in 1703 and acquired by 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.
The 10-year overhaul will cost 369 million pounds ($485 million).
The emptying of the east wing will mean the queen’s children Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward moving their offices, while Andrew and Edward, who also have overnight rooms in the wing, will have to be found accommodation elsewhere in the palace.
It will not directly affect the 92-year-old monarch and her husband Prince Philip, 97, whose private apartments are located in the north wing, nor heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles whose London home is Clarence House.
However, 10,000 items including paintings and other works of art will have to be moved, put in storage or sent out on loan while 120 members of staff are being relocated.
Anti-monarchy republicans in Britain say the true cost of the royals to taxpayers is at least 345 million pounds a year because some items such as security are ignored. Meanwhile newspapers have often been critical of the amount spent on minor royals and travel expenses.
This year’s report revealed that by far the biggest travel expense was incurred by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla whose trip to India, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei amounted to 362,149 pounds.
Pakistan among the few countries to successfully turn tide against terrorism: Imran
Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the country condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including state-terrorism against people under illegal occupation. The PM stated that Pakistan is “among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism”.
Addressing the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit at Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Khan reiterated that Pakistan is ready to share its experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. He added that growing intolerance and Islamophobia are threatening to accentuate religious fault-lines. He further said that Pakistan will remain actively engaged in SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives.
Speaking on Afghanistan, PM Khan said that “the conflict in Afghanistan has no military solution”, adding that Pakistan is fully supporting efforts for “peace and reconciliation, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process”.
“Excellencies, The world stands at a crossroads. For the first time in ages, we are seeing the advent of a multi-polar global order. Epicentres of economic power and growth momentum are shifting eastwards. Regional integration is speeding up. Disruptive technologies are maturing. Threats from terrorism to climate change to narcotics to bacterial resistance continue to loom large,” said PM Khan.
“There are increasing barriers to open trade and innovation. Meanwhile, growing intolerance and Islamophobia are threatening to accentuate religious fault-lines. For its part, Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including State-terrorism against people under illegal occupation. We are among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism,” added the Pakistan PM.
“Pakistan remains ready to share its experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. We will also remain actively engaged in SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives. Excellencies, There is finally a realization that the conflict in Afghanistan has no military solution. Pakistan is fully supporting efforts for peace and reconciliation, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process,” further said Pakistan PM Khan.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reiterated India’s strong stand against terrorism and appealed that countries supporting, aiding and funding terrorism must be held accountable. PM Modi highlighted the spirit and ideals of SCO to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism even as Khan looked on.
Without naming Pakistan, a country that has made state-sponsored terrorism its biggest policy to counter India for the last several decades, PM Modi said every country needs to come together, unite and fight against the scourge.
Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Moscow: Vladimir Putin has said Russia will fight for an independent Palestinian state, and called for the issues of the Middle East to be resolved through peaceful means.
Despite international criticism over Russia’s own role in the Ukrainian crisis, Mr Putin was hailed last week by a St Petersburg Cossack group for his ability to “bring order and stop wars”.
In an address to the Arab League summit in Egypt on Saturday, Putin spoke against foreign intervention in countries’ internal disputes and spoke of the role Russia can play in diplomatic channels.
While Russia openly opposes the stance of US-backed Israel on the Gaza crisis, its position in the Middle East is complicated. Putin is one of Iran’s key allies, but as he spoke on Saturday the core nations of the Arab League engaged in air strikes on the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
His attempts to urge a peaceful solution in Yemen haven’t had much of an immediate impact – on Sunday, the Arab League agreed to the creation of a joint military forces comprised of around 40,000 elite troops to resolve the future “challenges” of the Middle East.
As one of the “Quartet” entities involved in Middle East peace negotiations, Russia has played a key role in talks about the fallout of last year’s Gaza crisis.
He told the summit this weekend: “Palestinians have the right to establish an independent and habitable state with a capital in East Jerusalem.
“Russia will continue to contribute to achieving this goal through bilateral and multilateral channels,” he said.
Trump claims Queen had fun with him during his UK visit
Washington: US President Donald Trump claimed that Britain
s Queen Elizabeth II had more fun during his state visit to the UK than in the last 25 years."I have such a great relationship, and we were laughing and having fun. And her people said she hasnt had so much fun in 25 years. Then I got criticized for it because they said we were having too much fun,” the Hill quoted Trump as saying.
Trump`s comments come two weeks after his first state visit to London to meet the 93-year-old monarch. During his three-day visit, the president dined with the Queen, members of the British royal family and other British politicians at Buckingham Palace.
Trump and the queen reaffirmed the importance of the Washington-London relationship during an elaborate state banquet.”On behalf of all Americans I offer a toast to the eternal friendship of our people, the vitality of our nations and to the long cherished and truly remarkable reign of her majesty, the queen,” Trump said in his toast during the event.
He also met Prime Minister Theresa May. Opposing Trump
s visit, thousands of people hit the streets. TheTrump Baby` blimp was flown by the demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament, according to CNN, alongside a 16-foot robot version of Trump sitting on the toilet and tweeting.
Other activists came dressed as gorillas, with signs reading that they “only eat chlorinated chicken” — a nod to concerns in Britain that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US would mean a decline in food standards for imported produce.