Victoria and Albert’s mausoleum at Frogmore is in a disgraceful state of repair, I have found. Worryingly, it is not alone – Buckingham Palace also has a huge repair backlog. There can be no excuse for allowing the final resting place of one of our longest serving monarchs to fall into such disrepair.
Allowing these civic building to fall into disrepair is typical of government’s lazy attitude to history and total ignorance of the concept of civic pride. What a tragedy that Frogmore is now according to English Heritage ‘at risk’ through meanness. It made me weep to see these beautiful biblical frescoes facing needless ruin. How wonderful the Victorians were in their buildings. How we have forgotten.
The Crown has the money to pay for it if it were allowed – the government has received £1.7 billion since 1999 from the crown’s hereditary assets – but it only passes on £15 million per year for maintenance, and keeps over three quarters of the total revenue. This has led to a scandalous 27% fall in maintenance spending since 2001. The most outrageous aspect of this whole affair is that the palaces themselves made almost £30 million in visitor admissions last year, but the Royal Collection Trust only passed on one pound in every twenty to pay for maintenance. Frogmore is a beautiful example of high Victorian Italianate religious art – left in trust for the nation. It could be restored and reopened for £3 million and to clear the whole occupied palace backlog would cost only £32 million. Why can’t the government allow some hereditary revenues to pay for the upkeep of these public buildings?