The Queen becomes landlady to cut her household costs

Click to follow
The Independent Online
The first royal residence to be let on the open market is up for grabs - and there are no shortage of takers.

The two-bedroom cottage with a top-drawer address and formidable landlady looks set to be snapped up, even for the princely sum of pounds 400 a week. Shortly after the announcement at midday yesterday, a number of royal des. res. hopefuls rang Cluttons estate agents about Laurel Cottage, Royal Paddocks, Hampton Court.

"There could be a bit of squabbling over it," said Jonathan Seal, director of Cluttons. "With a unique type of special property like this it does seem to happen. It's quite expensive for a two-bedroom cottage but there are not many properties which have Hampton Court Park as their back garden."

The leasing of Laurel Cottage signals an effort by the Palace to reduce the royal household Grant-in-Aid budget from pounds 20.5m to pounds 15m by the turn of the century.

It is the first of up to 60 royal properties from the Occupied Royal Palaces Estate earmarked for commercial letting.

Laurel Cottage is set in the Hampton Paddocks and overlooks Hampton Court Palace, once the home of Henry VIII. Until six months ago, it was occupied by a groom who worked at the Royal stables across the road.

"There wasn't enough work for him or they were cutting back in terms of staff in the stables. I believe he has been taken on by another royal estate, possibly Balmoral," said Mr Seal.

The groom would not recognise his old home now. It has had a face-lift for an undisclosed figure, putting it in a higher rental bracket.

As soon as the Old Barracks in Kensington Palace has been refurbished it will become the second royal property on the open market.

Cluttons anticipates Laurel Cottage - built circa 1840 - will be leased on a 12-month basis either to a professional couple or individual working in London or someone living locally.