The wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William had the world transfixed last April, but as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge settle into their roles in British society, they now have to deal with asbestos. According to the National Ledger, work has stalled on renovations to the couple’s residence in London’s Kensington Palace. “Early indications suggest that large quantities of asbestos will have to be removed,” a spokesman said. For us at Ban Asbestos Now, this story is a stark reminder that asbestos doesn’t discriminate. It can strike people of all walks of life, including royalty.
Asbestos was once a popular building material, particularly in larger projects. Kensington Palace became a royal residence in the 1600s and has been renovated several times since. Although asbestos is an effective way to reduce the risk of fire, it also is the primary cause of the deadly cancer known as mesothelioma, which affects the smooth lining of the lungs, abdomen and heart.
The royal couple’s new home isn’t expected to be ready for at least a year. Asbestos removal can be a complicated and expensive process. If it’s not done properly, the work can result in a release of dangerous asbestos fibers into the atmosphere.
Much like the United States, the United Kingdom used large amounts of asbestos for much of the 20th century. In the United States, discoveries similar to what was found in Kensington Palace are commonplace. Many of our country’s historic structures, homes and monuments still contain asbestos-ridden materials today. Asbestos touches all sorts of people – from those who live in grand palaces, to those who work in simple factories. Unfortunately, the health effects of asbestos exposure are potentially deadly, and are the same for people from all walks of life.
Hopefully crews can successfully remove asbestos from Kensington Palace and William and Kate will continue to build their lives together in a safe environment.
Perhaps now that the substance is affecting leaders around the world, more people will realize it’s time to ban asbestos now.