One of the stories being featured on ‘BBC Breakfast’ this morning arose from a book written by the BBC’s own political correspondent, Andrew Marr, called ‘The Diamond Queen.’ It would seem that Prince Charles has been reportedly putting out there that Buckingham Palace should be used as an official building rather than residence of the monarch. An idea that I have long thought of as being jolly sensible.
The story has been headlined by the Daily Mail as ‘The Court of King Charles the Third: Buck House turned into a hotel… and the
other secrets of the Prince’s blueprint for the future’……in typical Daily Mail fashion…but in a more measured manner by the Daily Telegraph ‘Buckingham Palace ‘could be turned into museum when Prince Charles becomes king.’
I would imagine that if and when Prince Charles takes over as monarch he will make changes – however subtle – as anyone would in his position. He is, after all, the longest-serving heir and there have been many years to plan for when the moment finally arrives. I would have thought that one of the best moves would be to move Buckingham Palace into the custodianship of the government – as the venue for official occasions, receptions, etc…and for a public museum or venue for ‘high end’ exhibitions etc. I dread to think how much money is swallowed up in heating, maintenance and updating. Far better to invest in the building for the good of the nation and not burden the upkeep on the monarchy.
When the time finally comes for Prince Charles to vacate his country pile, Highgrove, I would very much like to win the lottery and buy the place. I speak with some authority having enjoyed a private tour around the gardens at Highgrove (Prince Charles’ private residence) last week.
The house itself is situated on the Bath Road just outside of Tetbury in Gloucestershire. I am not breaching any state secrets here, you can even view the house on google maps, but the private drive onto the estate is well hidden to say the least. My tour was conducted by a lovely woman, whose name I cannot now recall, but she runs her own garden design company and was a brilliant guide.
Given the size of the grounds (circa 14 acres as I recall) there are only 11 gardeners and the style is anything but formal. In fact, the gardens are very comfortable indeed. From the press coverage Prince Charles gets, you imagine he is an over indulgent pompous fool with an elaborate lifestyle and no sense at all of what every day life means to most folk. If his gardens are any indication of the man himself, then I would say he is forward thinking, spiritual and very much his own man. Apologies if that sounds sycophantic. I am not a royalist nor am I republican – but I can see what good the Royals could do for the UK (especially in these difficult times) and I am in favour of a slimmed down modern monarchy…..but I could never see myself bowing to Prince William or Harry……nor could I take Prince Edward seriously at all.
During the tour we were taken to the front of the house – and the one thing that struck me is that it does not appear big. I gather the house has seven bedrooms and, yes, it looks imposing, but it doesn’t have the grandier of how you would expect a Royal residence to look. I like that. And the gardens do not have the appearance of being designed by Disney, which could have been a danger. Indeed one detail that amused me no end was on the gate by the front of the house which takes you into the sundial garden. The gate is a large solid wooden thing – painted jade green with a brass handle…..but the brass handle had this little dribble of green paint on it. Yes, that’s what my gate would look like. Not Disney at all!!!
The gardens at Highgrove are most famous for following organic principles…..and this is one of the reasons for wanting to look around them. It was all very interesting. My favourite parts? The Arboretum …… and the Stumpery.
So why would I want to buy the place? Well I love the idea of being able to go for a walk in your own gardens and be gone for a few hours…..and the long driveways would be fun…..but the bit I liked most was the Policeman who opened and closed the gate as you arrived and left. Every house should have its own Policeman at the gate don’t you think?
One last question – Prince Charles and his family have a contract of some kind with Audi…..this is quite well-known and Audi have had associations going back to Princess Diana’s famous Audi convertible…..but I would love to know what came first – the Audi dealership in the Cotswold town of Tetbury…just down the road from Highgrove….or the contract Audi has with the Heir to the Throne and his family. I doubt I will ever find out.
Have a great day