Why Was Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice’s Childhood Home Demolished?

They weren’t always in the spotlight, but thanks to Princess Eugenie’s recent nuptials, the public are more interested in she and her sister, Beatrice, than ever before. As far as these two sisters are concerned, they’re linked to one of the most notoriously scandalous royals ever — their mother, Sarah Ferguson. Sarah was married to Prince Andrew before the two got divorced, and over the years, the two of them have been entangled in strange interactions, feuds, and decisions that had all of us scratching our heads.

One such decision the divorced couple made was to demolish the childhood home of their daughters. Here’s how it all went down.

The home was a wedding gift from the queen

Sarah Ferguson on her wedding day in 1986

Sarah Ferguson on her wedding day in 1986 | Sarah Ferguson Duchess of York via Instagram

It’s not every day newlyweds receive mansions as gifts — and even the queen herself hasn’t given away such a lavish wedding gift like this in many years. Even so, Daily Mail Online reminds us Queen Elizabeth II gifted her son, Prince Andrew, the Sunninghill Park estate when he married Sarah Ferguson back in 1986.

The publication notes the mansion itself was designed by Sir James Dunbar-Nasmith, who’s also known for designing another development on the Balmoral estate. Both Sarah and Andrew lived happily there for multiple years — and it’s also where Eugenie and Beatrice grew up. However, after their divorce in 1996, everything involving the home went south. Sarah and her two daughters continued to live in the mansion for 10 years, but they then moved out in 2006. While Sarah went to live again with her ex-husband in Windsor Great Park, the house was left totally abandoned.

Prince Andrew sold the home to a business and oil tycoon for millions

A year after the home was left abandoned by the royal family, Andrew took it upon himself to make money off of it. Daily Mail Online reports Timur Kulibayev, a Kazakhstani oil and businessman, got in touch with Andrew for the home. Andrew ended up selling the home for £15 million, which was £3 million more than he originally asked.

The deal was good for the royal — but it led to widespread criticism from the public. Andrew was friends with Kulibayev’s father-in-law, who was the Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev. Nazarbayev was accused of corruption in the past, making the sale of the mansion raise even more eyebrows.

A bat infestation halted the demolition of the home

The Duke of York (L) arrives with his daughters Eugenie (3rd L) and Beatrice (3rd R) at the West Door of Westminster Abbey

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York (L), arrives with his daughters | Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Kulibayev had big plans for the estate — and it all started with demolishing the home that was left to rot and starting over with his own fresh ideas. But Daily Mail Online notes all plans to demolish the building were initially thwarted due to a bat infestation.

Documents from architects stated that at least 100 bats were in the mansion itself or in the rafters — and some of the species of the animal were considered rare. For this reason, experts required roosts be set up in trees surrounding the property so the bats could have somewhere to go once the home was under construction. And by the time the home was finally able to be totally taken down, it wasn’t just the vermin that made it alarming. The broken windows and boarded doors made the once-royal residence look nothing like it used to.

The owner of the property is building an even larger mansion in the same space

Would any aspect of Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice’s childhood home be salvaged? Daily Mail Online reports one worker who’s assisting in taking down the old structure thinks the only things salvageable in the entire house are some of the old tiles that are no longer produced. “It wasn’t finished to a very high standard, despite it being built for the royals,” he said.

As for the new house, another worker spilled some info on what can be expected. It seems the homeowners are going for “a baroque feel” — and the budget seems limitless. “Everything is top quality, with lots of marble,” they said. And it’s also reportedly going to be over a third larger than the first mansion, with multiple dining rooms, an indoor swimming pool, and possibly an orchard outdoors.

As for how Beatrice and Eugenie feel about the demolition, they seemingly don’t mind. Eugenie is living in Ivy Cottage at Kensington Palace with her husband, and Beatrice is thriving in New York.

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