Prince William and his new bride are set to leave their two-bedroom “starter home” in Kensington Palace and upgrade to a larger apartment, one last occupied by Queen Elizabeth’s late sister Princess Margaret, by summer 2013.
The larger, grander apartment is actually the size of a small mansion, and will be more appropriate for a couple who hope to have children and will need more space to grow a family.
Under the plans released by the palace, Prince Harry, 27, is also expected to move. He’ll take over the small property that William and Kate, both 29, have been in since July. The Queen and William’s father, Prince Charles, have approved the plans, officials say.
Before any of the royals move home, their office will have moved from St. James’s Palace to Kensington Palace, enabling courtiers to be closer to them.
But there is a lot of work to be done in the “uninhabitable” apartment before William and Kate move in, palace officials say.
“Early indications suggest that large quantities of asbestos will have to be removed, as well as work on the heating and hot water systems and electrical wiring,” a statement released to PEOPLE says. “The extent of the work needed to turn the apartment back into a home is not yet known, but it is expected that the apartment will not be ready for occupation until at least the middle of 2013.”
Its last major renovation was around the time of Princess Margaret’s marriage to Lord Snowdon in 1960.
While known mainly for being the palace where Princess Diana lived, and where William and Harry were brought up, the palace was originally known as Nottingham House – a mansion that William III bought in 1689. He had been looking for a residence away from the River Thames. It was the main home of sovereigns until 1760, when George II died there. Queen Victoria was born and raised in the residence.
Ken Wharfe, Diana’s former bodyguard, worked with the family at Kensington Palace, and explains, “It’s ideally centrally located, it has it’s own heliport out the back in the shape of Perk’s Field, which is the royal household football pitch. It has everything going for it. It is the obvious location for William and the duchess to settle down.”