Why Queen Elizabeth II Might Never Live Again at Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth II may choose not to use her apartment at Buckingham Palace due to ongoing renovations, instead opting to live full-time at Windsor Castle for the rest of her reign.

The renovation programme costing nearly $500 million (£365 million) currently underway at Buckingham Palace is not set to be completed for another five years, at which time the Queen will be over 100.

The ten-year-long project began in 2017 overhauling the wiring, heating and plumbing systems which had not been updated since the 1950s. The project has however faced disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was intended that save for a few weeks, in which the Queen's private apartments would undergo rewiring, the palace would be fully occupied and operational during the works.

However, with the global pandemic outbreak in March 2020, the Queen moved in a Covid-safe bubble with key members of her household and her husband, Prince Philip, to Windsor Castle.

Windsor has become known as the Queen's favorite royal residence, with her choosing to spend weekends at the castle throughout her reign and with many members of her family living around its substantial grounds.

Ian Lloyd, author of The Queen: 70 Chapters in the Life of Elizabeth II, told Newsweek:

"Windsor is her favorite home so she is very happy there and it holds many happy memories for her. She had lockdown with Prince Philip there so I think it's appropriate that she would choose to be at Windsor more and more."

The pandemic saw the Queen spend more time at the castle than at any other point in her life apart from the years she spent living there with her sister Princess Margaret during World War Two.

Queen Elizabeth II Accession
Queen Elizabeth II may work from Windsor Castle on a permanent basis for the rest of her reign due to ongoing renovations to Buckingham Palace. Seen here on February 5, 2022 marking the 70th anniversary of her becoming Queen. Joe Giddens/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Queen made reference to her wartime years at the castle in the speech made at the beginning of the pandemic, now famous for the line: "We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again."

In it she recalls the very first speech she made in 1940 to children affected by the war, helped by her sister Margaret.

Two years after the broadcast of the Queen's pandemic speech she is still at Windsor Castle and unlikely to return to live at Buckingham Palace, according to The Times.

With engagements over video calls now factored into her working life and visitors coming to see her rather than the other way around, the Queen has found a comfortable working rhythm at the castle, unlikely to be displaced for Buckingham Palace.

Lloyd told Newsweek: "I think like her father, who referred to Buckingham Palace as the office, she sees it as a more working environment and of course all of that's changed recently as she can now work from a distance with video conferencing.

For more royal news and commentary check out Newsweek's The Royal Report podcast:

"We've seen how she can meet ambassadors, which was one of the main reasons to be at the palace, to meet people, she can do that at a distance now. Even the Prime Minister occasionally makes a visit to Windsor so it's not necessary these days to be at Buckingham Palace. But it is, of course, the symbolic focal point of the monarchy."

An exception to this new "working from home" model that the Queen has adopted will come with the Platinum Jubilee celebrations this summer.

Though Windsor Castle may be where the Queen chooses to conduct business moving forward, Buckingham Palace remains the central hub for the monarchy and it will play the part of principle venue for the jubilee events.

On Thursday, June 2 the Queen will be present with members of the royal family at a special Trooping of the Colour which ends with an appearance by the royals on the palace balcony.

Buckingham Palace exterior
Buckingham Palace will be the focus of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Another event in which Buckingham Palace is due to play a central role will be the Platinum Party at the Palace on June 4. This televised live concert will be held in the palace vicinity and it is expected the Queen will be in attendance.

Even though for over seventy years Buckingham Palace has been the principal residence of the Queen, the coronavirus pandemic, health concerns, and an attachment intensified by the loss of Prince Philip in April 2021, has seen Windsor become a comfort for the 95-year-old monarch.