EXCLUSIVE King’s guards forced to live in squalor: Inside the rat-infested royal barracks where soldiers who protect Charles III endure conditions ‘worse than prison’
- EXCLUSIVE: WARNING: GRAPHIC – Photos show Wellington Barracks conditions
- From urine-soaked floors, dead birds in the corridor and rubbish piled in rooms
- One former Coldstream Guard described the base a ‘worse than a British prison’
These are the disturbing images that reveal the squalid conditions Royal guards have to endure at one of Britain’s most prestigious army barracks.
The graphic photographs of piles of litter, blocked, filthy toilets and leaky appliances were taken inside the iconic Wellington Barracks, which is just 300 yards from Buckingham Palace and is home to five of the army’s most high-profile regiments: The Coldstream, Grenadier, Irish, Scots, and Welsh Guards.
The soldiers have had the duty of protecting the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces from 1660 to the present day, their soldiers photographed by millions of tourists from around the world as they stand on guard outside Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace dressed in full military regalia.
But it is a world away from their daily living conditions which some soldiers have described as ‘vile’ and ‘worse than a prison.’
One former Coldstream Guard, who did not want to be named, told MailOnline: ‘It’s a disgusting way to treat soldiers who are doing a very important job. Prisoners in Britain have better living conditions than we do.
‘Wellington Barracks is absolutely filthy but from the outside they look great. Tourists stand at the gates to take pictures, but they wouldn’t believe what life is like for soldiers inside.’
The soldier revealed that he recently quit the Coldstream Guards because of the living conditions.
He added: ‘The rats would die in the bins, and we’d have to clean them out when doing block jobs in the morning. There are piles of rubbish inside the accommodation areas and the stench from the toilets is unbearable. All the problems are in the blocks where the privates live.
‘I can promise you this would not happen in the officers block. I couldn’t take it anymore, it was worse than living in a filthy squat. I put up with it for several years, but nothing changed. The British public need to know how soldiers in this country are treated.’
The squalid conditions at Wellington Barracks are particularly embarrassing because of the pivotal role it played as the nerve centre of Operation London Bridge – the funeral plan for Queen Elizabeth II.
Hundreds of soldiers who marched in the Queen’s funeral procession last September lived at the site, while the eight pallbearers from the Queen’s Company, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, who were hailed for their extraordinary composure, also stayed there the night before.
Referring to living conditions, one soldier said: ‘If you said something to a senior officer, they would either ignore you or tell you to f**k off, so we just stopped complaining. The whole thing is a joke. We’re guarding some of the most famous people and buildings in the world then return to a filthy hell hole once our day’s work is done.
‘What civvies see when we’re on duty and what our reality is are two very different things. There are people in this country who haven’t made a positive contribution to this country who are living better than us.’
He fumed: ‘We’re just bottom of the food chain and treated like scum.’
One of the soldiers revealed that he received a salary of £22,000 per year and now makes more than double that working in the security industry.
He claimed that 32 privates live on each floor and have to share six toilets and two bathrooms between them.
Wellington Barracks was originally designed in the 1830s and is now believed to house around 500 soldiers from the five regiments.
The conditions inside are just part of the wider problems with accommodation for British soldiers.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Amey, a Ministry of Defence maintenance contractor, missed 10,535 urgent repair appointments since April 2022, with fellow contractor Vivo missing 4,041 urgent appointments.
Further data revealed that more than 44,000 Armed Forces personnel were housed in ‘Grade 4’ properties in 2021 – the lowest rating given by the Ministry of Defence.
It said in a statement: ‘The provision of good quality, secure accommodation for Service Personnel is a key priority. While 95 per cent of this type of accommodation meets the Decent Homes Standard, we are spending more than £1.6 billion over the next decade to make improvements and build new living quarters.’