Newspaper clippings from 1889 are among the items discovered under the floorboards of Buckingham Palace during renovation works.
The ripped fragments of a November 27 edition of the Evening Standard, almost 130 years ago, were found along with three empty cigarette packets as potentially dangerous wiring was replaced.
The work is part of a 10-year refurbishment of Buckingham Palace, expected to cost nearly £370m, to avoid the risk of “catastrophic building failure” at the Queen’s main residence.
The removal of vulcanised Indian rubber (VIR) cabling, which was installed in the late 1940s, is the first stage of the reservicing of the building.
So far 2km of the wiring has been replaced, equivalent to the length of 40 Olympic sized swimming pools, the palace said.
The Queen’s audience room was among those rewired, with work taking place as she stayed at Balmoral.
Barbara Welch, programme director, said: “The vulcanised Indian rubber becomes really brittle with age and it cracks and it falls off, exposing live electrical cables, which is a real fire risk.”
She added: “We are doing this removal work for the VIR cabling now because it presents the highest risk to the Palace and therefore the sooner we get that risk out of this building, the better.”
The works are intended to prevent the danger or fire, flood or damage to the historic building and its priceless art collection and keep the palace “fit for purpose”.