The image of the Royal Family waving from the Buckingham Palace balcony on Saturday made front pages across the world.

But for the past five years a building site has been hidden behind the regal exterior – until now.

Today we can reveal fascinating new details of the refurbished East Wing, which will soon be open to the public for the first time.

The £369 million programme has involved the replacement of 190miles of electrical cabling in the East Wing - around the distance from London to Leeds.

More than 40,000 floorboards have also been replaced, whilst 41 apprentices were hired to work on the renovations.  

A royal source said: 'Buckingham Palace is a national asset that, as a result of this work, will be more accessible to the public.

'The King wants it to be "the people's palace". He is very keen to open it up to the public through garden parties, tours and the extended summer opening, and we will continue to find more ways to do this.'

The renovations began in 2017 with a focus on replacing ageing cabling and plumbing that had not been updated since the 1950s and was at risk of causing 'catastrophic fire or flooding'.

Work on the East Wing - which faces the Mall where crowds assemble on major royal occasions like Trooping the Colour and features the famous central balcony - started in 2018 and was completed earlier this year.

To replace the dangerous cables, thousands of floorboards were individually taken up and marked with a number, with each detail recorded in an intricate map.

When the wiring was replaced, each floorboard was put back in its original place 'like a giant jigsaw'.

Deadly asbestos that lurked in 'the internal surfaces' of several rooms in the East Wing was also eradicated through 'abrasive brickwork cleaning'.

Apprentices of all ages – some straight out of school and others who retrained from different professions – have been brought in to help restore the Grade One-listed building.

From July 15 visitors can examine their handywork.

The hidden quarters of the East Wing will be open to the public for the first time after 6,000 tickets were snapped up in a matter of hours when they went on sale earlier this year.

But the full reservicing programme, funded through the taxpayer-funded sovereign grant, will not be completed until 2027.

No fewer than 236 planning applications have been submitted since 2017 as work continues to make the palace 'fit for generations to come'.

An MoS audit of these applications found that 19th century servants' bedrooms are being replaced with an airy 'central collaboration space' for the 300 office staff that work behind the palace walls.

A 'gloomy and underused' computer suite will also be replaced with a modern conference room, IT training room and an open-plan office.

In the palace gardens, dozens of cherry trees and silver birches have been chopped down to allow more natural light and 'encourage regenerative growth' of other plants.

Royal gardeners have been put in pride of place and being allocated 'an extra welfare space'.

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2024-06-17T15:14:03Z dg43tfdfdgfd