The State Dining Room at Buckingham Palace remains closed, more than 16 months after damage was discovered in a timber beam that helps hold up the ornately gilded ceiling. Initially a palace spokesperson had played down reports that the room would need to be closed for official functions and visitors for up to six months.
Subsequent investigations revealed a serious problem, requiring emergency stabilisation and a crash-deck scaffold. The room had been lined with full-length portraits from the royal collection, which had to be removed. A new steel support for the plaster ceiling has been added. With structural and conservation repairs now finally nearing completion, a collection spokeswoman told The Art Newspaper that the room should be ready for the summer opening of Buckingham Palace to visitors on 22 July.
Meanwhile, plans are being made for a full programme of repairs to Buckingham Palace, which has not had a comprehensive overhaul since the 1940s. The works have been costed at £369m and will be funded from an increased sovereign grant, provided by the government. Work is due to start within the next few weeks and will take an estimated ten years.