William and Kate have spent the past fortnight at Balmoral with baby George, enjoying “quality time” with the Queen, Prince Philip, Charles and Camilla.But as workmen put the finishing touches to the £1.5million overhaul, the couple are returning to London to start family life in their first “proper” home.“They can’t wait,” said a friend. “They are so looking forward to getting the place how they want it and being settled.”Within days they will move into the four-storey 20-room apartment 1A, which once belonged to Princess Margaret, who died in 2002.It has five reception rooms, three main bedrooms, dressing rooms and bathrooms, a night and day nursery, staff bedrooms and “ancillary rooms”.
Plenty of room in other words for the pair’s Italian housekeeper Antonella Fresolone, nanny Jessie Webb, and Kate’s parents Michael and Carole or sister Pippa when they stay over to babysit.
Kate, who has a history of art degree, has overseen the decorations herself and, encouraged by Prince Charles, has done without outside advice so that she can “stamp her personality” on the home.She has been spotted shopping for fabrics in the upmarket Chelsea Design Centre, but has also been seen in department stores like Peter Jones in Sloane Square.“It’s a big task but Kate is confident in her own taste and style and knows what she wants,” said a friend.The cost of interior decorating and soft furnishings are being met by the royal family.A modern kitchen has been installed, and an environmentally-friendly heating and hot water system.Meanwhile renovation work has begun on Anmer Hall, the Georgian mansion at Sandringham which will become William and Kate’s country retreat.
Diggers are removing topsoil to create a new drive, which will afford the couple greater privacy.