LONDON — The parties will be at the palace — at least during next year's Summer Olympics.
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Queen Elizabeth II has approved renting out fancy rooms at St. James's Palace as party venues during the 2012 London Olympics.
Buckingham Palace says holders of royal warrants — companies with long-standing ties to the royal family — will be given a chance to rent the rooms, called state apartments, during the games, which begin July 27 and last until Aug. 12.
A palace spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined Monday to say which state apartments would be available, but the palace has the Throne Room, the Tapestry Room and the Queen Anne Room, among others.
The move is unprecedented, but also shows that even the queen has been affected by British austerity measures. "We're not immune to that," the spokesman said of the tough times.
Built between 1531-1536, St. James's Palace was a residence of kings and queens for over 300 years — although Buckingham Palace has been the home of the monarch since the time of Queen Victoria. Located in central London near Buckingham Palace, it houses the offices of several members of the royal family including Prince William and Prince Harry.
It is often used for official functions and is not open to the public.
Besides offering the ultimate in exclusive party venue addresses, the palace also has another huge selling point for those interested in corporate hospitality. St. James is only a short stroll from Horse Guards Parade, the venue for one of the most popular events of the games: beach volleyball.
But it won't come cheap. Britain's Daily Mail reports that the cost of renting the rooms would be a whopping 30,000 pounds ($47,500) a day.
The Olympics presents a unique opportunity for businesses.
Corporate sponsors of the games are willing to offer millions for the chance to be closely associated with the Olympics. Besides the name recognition, those sponsors get tickets — and hold lavish parties where they bring their most important clients.
By allowing royal warrant holders the chance to rent rooms for events, the queen will be helping businesses that mostly are too small to pay what that the likes of Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Visa hand over to be tied to the Olympic movement.
But what if you aren't a sponsor, don't have a royal warrant but want to sleep in a palace during the games? Fear not, there is at least one option.
Leeds Castle, about an hour outside of London, might consider an offer to book the place.
Victoria Wallace, the castle's chief executive, declined to offer a cost on renting the turreted castle surrounded by a lake and sloping acres of parkland. The palace normally rents its grounds for events but mindful of the interest in deluxe accommodations during the Summer Olympics, she said the castle might consider a tailored "bespoke" package if there was interest.
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