They'll sweat it out at the Palace

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

MONARCHS glow, equerries perspire, but tourists sweat. Profusely. And the Queen will have to learn to deal with the fact.

The Palace has yet to release any details of how it plans to cater for the estimated 7,000 visitors a day when the State Rooms are thrown open at 8 a head in August. But Terry Empson, director-general of the Historic Houses Association, warned that there will be a 'massive wear and tear' problem. 'Human beings are great pollutants. They lose skin and they let moisture into the atmosphere. The long-term problems can be very serious.' 'Ah, yes, the BO problem,' said Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, with some weariness. 'It is extraordinary how much dust and pollution is caused by people.'

In hot and crowded conditions human beings can give off up to three litres of water an hour. Fabric and paintings have to be protected against damp and mildew as a result. There is another problem Buckingham Palace must address with seriousness, says Lord Montagu: 'Where do they go and pee? People seem to want to go and do it all the time.'

But the most pressing problem will be over sheer numbers. The English Tourist Board reports that its overseas offices are already inundated with inquiries. The tourist industry is suggesting that a straight pay-as-you-enter scheme will not be feasible. Queues could stretch across London and an advance booking system would result in an explosion of tickets on the black market.

Mr Empson suggests that organising crowd control, tour facilities and guides, refreshments as well as dealing with visitors' bodily fluids will all eat into the Queen's profits. 'Our members find that all the money they earn goes back into conservation.'

Lord Montagu, who charges pound 7 for an adult to visit Palace House and his motor museum, says: 'There's no question of profit. Every single penny is poured back into the house.'

But if the Queen wants to improve her profit margin, there are plenty of people available to help her do it. Adrian Silas, of Masquerade Promotions, a London-based hospitality company, has already produced a list of the sort of events he would like to market at the Palace. At the top are wedding receptions, under the title 'My husband and I'.