Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Queen in a Condo? `People's Palace' Raises Storm

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Queen in a Condo? `People's Palace' Raises Storm

Article excerpt

A PROPOSAL by a leading Labour Party politician that the queen should abandon Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, her second residence outside London, and move into an ultramodern high-tech "people's palace" is stirring acrimonious political debate in Britain.

The idea, suggested by Marjorie Mowlam, "shadow" secretary of state for national heritage, was attacked by the government as an insult to the monarch.

Stephen Dorrell, national heritage secretary in John Major's government, assailed the scheme as "bizarre," claiming it would "offend a large majority of the British public."

Simon Coombs, a Tory member of Parliament (MP) who has claimed the support of "most Conservative MPs," called for Ms. Mowlam's resignation.

But Mowlam defends her suggestion as a way of "giving a boost to the monarchy," which, she says, is "beset by scandal and a certain tiredness."

The dispute erupted as, for the second summer running, the queen opened Buckingham Palace to tours by fee-paying sightseers eager to get a glimpse of the royals' domestic lifestyle.

Labour's heritage spokeswoman believes the palace's "lurid decorations and unhomely feel" is all wrong. It should be replaced by "a less imperious style," with the emphasis on contemporary architecture and interior design.

"Red plush and gilt," she insists, should be replaced by modernistic living and working quarters and "designer kitchens."

Writing in the mass-circulation Mail on Sunday newspaper this week, Mowlam declared: "The potential is enormous. All aspects of this new royal home would be modern, representative of the age we live in, and not a pastiche of the past." She further argued that selling Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle would provide cash to begin building "a new palace to represent the Crown in the next millennium."

The rest of the money should come from public subscription, in the form of "palace bonds," and donations from industry, Mowlam said. …

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