Category Archives: Royal Residences

Windsor Castle

by Scott Mehl

Windsor Castle from the air. source: Wikipedia, photo by Mark S. Jobling

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth II, and where she spends most weekends and several weeks each year. The castle is also used often as the site of State and official visits, and each year hosts the service for the Order of the Garter. With its imposing silhouette, Windsor Castle has become a symbol of the British monarchy.

Following the Norman invasion in 1066, William the Conqueror built a fortress on the site, which has been enlarged and expanded greatly by successive sovereigns. The original Round Tower was built and large walls surrounded the entire complex. A century later, King Henry II rebuilt much of the fortress in stone, including the Round Tower, outer walls and many of the other structures. These included the Upper Ward, which contained the Royal Apartments. Successive sovereigns made their own changes and expansions to Windsor Castle – Edward III added the St. George’s Hall for the newly created Order of the Garter, and Edward IV began the construction of St. George’s Chapel in the Lower Ward.

Windsor Castle in 1658. source: Wikipedia

It was King Charles II who, following the Restoration, set out to turn the Castle into a showplace, hiring the best craftsmen and artists to build and decorate new State Apartments in the northern wing of the Upper Ward. Most of these rooms still exist and are included in the public tours of the castle.

During the reign of King George III, he made further changes, installing his wife and large family in the east and south wings, while the King himself lived in a small suite of rooms in the northern wing. Due to his illness, he wanted to be sure that his wife and family were insulated from his bursts of madness. His successor, King George IV, also made significant changes to the castle – often credited with turning the mere ‘castle’ into a true ‘palace’. During his reign, the Waterloo Chamber was added to recognize Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.

Queen Victoria and her family used Windsor Castle quite often, and in 1861, it was where her beloved Prince Albert died of typhoid. The Queen turned his rooms into a virtual shrine to her late husband, insisting that they remain as they were the day he died. Following Albert’s death, the Queen spent even more time at Windsor, only using Buckingham Palace in London when absolutely necessary. Later generations have used Windsor quite regularly. During World War II, it is where the present Queen and her sister, Princess Margaret, lived, along with other members of the extended royal family.

In 1992, on the Queen’s 45th wedding anniversary, a massive fire broke out at the castle. During some restoration work in the Private Chapel, a curtain came into contact with a spotlight and sparked a fire which damaged or destroyed over 100 rooms and took over 15 hours to contain. The subsequent restoration took nearly 5 years and cost £37million (the majority of which was met by opening the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace to the public). You can read more about the fire at Windsor Castle here.

Despite its grand State Rooms and imposing stone walls, Windsor Castle today is very much a home to The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. As well as staying at Windsor on most weekends, The Queen officially takes up residence at the castle for a month in March or April, over Easter. She also spends a week in June, which coincides with Royal Ascot and the service for the Order of the Garter.

The Castle can be broken down into three sections – The Lower Ward, The Middle Ward and The Upper Ward.

St. George’s Chapel. photo © Susan Flantzer

St. George’s Chapel. photo © Susan Flantzer

The Lower Ward contains St. George’s Chapel, The Albert Memorial Chapel (originally The Lady Chapel) and the Horseshoe Cloister. It also contains lodgings for the Military Knights of Windsor and the residence of the Governor of the Military Knights.

The Round Tower. photo © Susan Flantzer

The Round Tower. photo © Susan Flantzer

The Middle Ward consists primarily of The Round Tower, which stands at the in the center between the Lower and Upper Wards. The Round Tower was part of the original fortress, and was rebuilt by King Henry II in 1170. Today, it houses the Royal Archives.

The Queen reviewing troops during the Diamond Jubilee Parade and Muster, May 2012, in the quadrangle of the Upper Ward. To the left is the Guest Entrance, and to the right is The Queen’s Entrance. source: Wikipedia, Defence Imagery under the Open Government License v1.0

The Upper Ward is the primary section of the castle and contains the State Apartments as well as the private apartments of the Royal Family. Built around a large quadrangle, the Upper Ward has over 950 rooms, and about 225 of those are bedrooms!

The State Apartments are located in the northern wing. These include the apartments of King Charles II and Queen Catherine (Catherine of Braganza). Also within the State Apartments are:

St. George’s Hall during the State Visit of the President of Ireland, 2014. source: Irish Independent

St. George’s Hall runs along the northern wing of the Upper Ward, overlooking the quadrangle. The majestic hall is the site of State dinners.

The Waterloo Chamber. source: The Daily Mail

The Waterloo Chamber was created in the 1820s and displays portraits which commemorate Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Today, it is often used for receptions and luncheons, including the luncheon for Knights and Ladies of the Garter prior to the Garter service at St. George’s Chapel each June.

The Semi-State Apartments, located in the eastern wing, are also considered part of the Private Apartments. Some of the prominent rooms include:

The Crimson Drawing Room, the principal room in the private apartments, is often used for private meetings and official functions. Located in the eastern wing of the Upper Ward, it is often used for official functions and private meetings. This is one of the rooms which was destroyed by the fire in 1992.

The Green Drawing Room, at one time the library, is next to the Crimson Drawing Room in the eastern wing. IT is also used for formal entertaining. During State visits, it often features a display of items from The Royal Collection pertaining to the country of the visiting Head of State. It is also used occasionally for meetings of the Privy Council.

The White Drawing Room, in the eastern wing, is typically used for official visits. It is often where The Queen meets with her ministers and foreign guests. It was also the site of the formal photos taken after the wedding of The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in 2005.

The State Dining Room, located in the northeastern corner of the Upper Ward, is used for smaller functions and meetings.

The Garter Throne Room is used primarily during the investiture of new Knights and Ladies of the Garter. It is located in the northern wing, overlooking the North Terrace.

The eastern wing, overlooking the East Terrace. source: Wikipedia, photo by David Stanley

The actual private apartments of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are in the eastern wing, overlooking the East Terrace and Gardens. These are accessed through the Queen’s Entrance, located in the south-eastern corner of the quadrangle.

Frogmore House in the Home Park. source: Wikipedia, photo by Gill Hicks

Outside the castle walls is the Home Park. Located primarily to the east of the castle, the Home Park is the private park of the castle and covers about 655 acres. Within the Home Park are The Frogmore Estate, two farms, the Windsor Farm Shop, and the Windsor Home Park Lawn Tennis Club. The Home Park is also the site of the Royal Windsor Horse Show each year.

The Copper Horse, Windsor Great Park. source: The Crown Estate

The Copper Horse, Windsor Great Park. source: The Crown Estate

Extending further to the south is Windsor Great Park. Covering over 5,000 acres, and managed by the Crown Estate, Windsor Great Park includes the majestic Long Walk, which extends from the southern wing of the palace and proceeds 2.65 miles to The Copper Horse, a statue of King George III on horseback. Also within Windsor Great Park are several other royal residences including Royal Lodge, Cumberland Lodge and Fort Belvedere.

Learn more about the other British Royal Residences here!

Balmoral Castle

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle, located on the large Balmoral Estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, is the Queen’s private residence in Scotland. Originally purchased in 1852, it has been a favorite residence of the royal family ever since.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert made several visits to Scotland beginning in 1842 and quickly fell in love with the Highlands. After staying at several other houses, Prince Albert arranged to acquire the lease on Balmoral Castle following the death of its previous tenant, Sir Robert Gordon, despite never having seen the castle or property before. Victoria and Albert first stayed at Balmoral in September 1848. Almost immediately, they realized the existing castle was too small for their large family and household, and plans were made to expand the building. However, Prince Albert was already in negotiations to purchase the estate. In June 1852, Albert purchased the castle and estate for £32,000, as well as purchasing the neighboring Birkhall estate, and leasing Abergeldie Castle.

In lieu of making any additions, it was decided instead to build a new castle just next to the existing one. In September 1853, Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone for the new castle, which was completed in 1856. At that point, the original building was torn down. That year, The Queen and her family began the tradition of spending time at Balmoral each year, where she was somewhat able to escape the formality of the court in London and indulge in her passions for painting and writing. Queen Victoria continued to visit Balmoral annually, making her last visit just a few months before her death.

The palace remained much the same until the reign of King George V and Queen Mary, who updated the building and designed many of the formal gardens. With the purchase of the neighboring Delnadamph Lodge and estate in 1978, the Balmoral Estate now comprises 50,000 acres, and include grouse moors and farmland, as well as the 2,500-acre Ballochbuie Forest, which was purchased by Queen Victoria in 1878 to save it from destruction.

The Queen greeting the Prime Minister at Balmoral. source: The Mirror

The Queen greeting the Prime Minister at Balmoral. source: The Mirror

Today, The Queen spends her summer holiday at Balmoral, often with other members of the Royal Family. While there, she and the Duke of Edinburgh undertake many local engagements, as well as traditionally hosting the Prime Minister for a weekend. She also holds a ball for the estate workers, known as the Ghillie’s Ball.

Also on the estate is Craigowan Lodge. This is typically used for guests, and was where the Prince and Princess of Wales usually stayed while visiting Balmoral. Today, it is best known for being where The Queen stays when she first arrives in Scotland for her summer holiday. As Balmoral is usually still open to the public, she stays at Craigowan Lodge for several days until the tours have ended.

Birkhall. source: Wikipedia, photo by Alan Findlay

Several miles to the east is Birkhall, which is currently the Scottish home of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. The Birkhall estate, as mentioned above, was purchased by Prince Albert at the same time as Balmoral. It was initially given to the future King Edward VII, but he preferred to stay at Abergeldie Castle. It later became housing for staff and extended family, and served as the residence of the Keeper of the Privy Purse to King Edward VII, Dighton Probyn.

In the 1930s, King George V gave Birkhall to the Duke and Duchess of York who used it quite often prior to their accession in 1936. Following their marriage in 1947, Birkhall was often used by then-Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh. Following George VI’s death in 1952, Birkhall became the home of The Queen Mother until her death in 2002. Soon after, The Prince of Wales took over the property, and it is where he honeymooned with the Duchess of Cornwall following their marriage in 2005.

Abergeldie Castle. source: Wikipedia, photo by Peter Gordon

Abergeldie Castle was originally leased by Prince Albert as part of the purchase of Balmoral and Birkhall. It was first used by Queen Victoria’s mother, The Duchess of Kent, and later by Empress Eugenie of France. It then became the preferred residence of the future King Edward VII. While no longer holding the lease to the castle itself, the Royal Family still retain the lease to the estate’s game lands.

Learn more about the other British Royal Residences here!

Sandringham House

by Scott Mehl

Sandringham House

Sandringham House, located on the 20,000 acre Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, is The Queen’s privately owned home. Originally purchased as a home for King Edward VII, it remains a favorite residence of The Queen, where she spends several months each year. The large Sandringham Estate is also the home to several other current and former royal residences, including York Cottage, Park House, Appleton House (demolished in 1984), and Anmer Hall which is currently the country home of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. In addition, over half of the estate is leased out as farmland. Like Balmoral Castle, Sandringham is owned privately by the Sovereign, and not part of the Crown Estate. It is privately managed by an estate agent and includes two studs, a fruit farm, and a public country park.

The house was purchased for the future King Edward VII in the spring of 1862, with its surrounding estate of nearly 6,900 acres (at that time), from Charles Spencer Cowper. Having come of age, Edward was given Marlborough House in London as his principal residence, but it was deemed important that he have a country home as well. His father, Prince Albert, had been conducting the search for a suitable home, but passed away in December 1861. Queen Victoria insisted that Albert’s work continue, and Edward himself visited Sandringham and decided that it was the most suitable home and quickly arranged for the purchase, for the then-staggering cost of £220,000.

At the time, the house was a plain Georgian building with a white stucco facade and had been built in the late 1700s. Edward took up residence shortly after his marriage to Princess Alexandra of Denmark in March 1863. Soon finding that the house was too small for their growing family, Edward had the house demolished and built a new grand house. The main house was finished in 1870, and further additions would follow: a ballroom in 1881, and a guest wing in the 1890s. The estate was also enlarged through the purchase of several neighboring farms and estates through the years.

Sandringham was used regularly for shooting, a favorite pastime of the future King Edward VII. He famously changed the clocks in the house set forward half an hour to allow for more light for hunting. This became widely known as Sandringham Time. The tradition continued until the accession of King Edward VIII in 1936.

Of Edward and Alexandra’s six children, only their youngest, Prince Alexander John, was born at Sandringham. Sadly, he died the following day. However, the house has been the site of several deaths in the royal family. Edward and Alexandra’s eldest son, Prince Albert Victor (Eddy), The Duke of Clarence and Avondale, died at the house in January 1892, just weeks after becoming engaged to Princess Mary of Teck.

Following King Edward VII’s death in 1910, Sandringham House remained the home of his widow, until her own death in 1925. At that point, King George V and Queen Mary were able to leave York Cottage on the estate, and take up residence in the main house. In 1932, King George V made the first Christmas broadcast to the Empire, via radio, which was broadcast live from the house. (And it was at Sandringham, 25 years later, when his granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, made her first televised broadcast from the library.) King George V passed away at Sandringham in January 1936.

After the abdication of King Edward VIII at the end of 1936, his successor, King George VI, was forced to purchase Sandringham (and Balmoral) from his elder brother, as Edward remained the owner of both. The new King and his family stayed at Sandringham often, and during World War II, the two young princesses spent large amounts of time on the estate. It was here that the King succumbed to cancer and died in his sleep on February 6, 1952.

source: Wikipedia, Elwyn Thomas Roddich

Each year, The Queen and most members of the Royal Family spend Christmas at Sandringham. After everyone has arrived (on a very specific timetable based on precedence), the family gather in the White Drawing Room for tea, while finishing touches are made to the Christmas tree. Presents, displayed on tables in the nearby Red Drawing Room, are opened. Then, following drinks, a formal dinner is served in the Dining Room.

Christmas Day sees the entire family attend church at the Saint Mary Magdalene Church on the estate. Most of the family walk from the house, while the Queen then arrives by car. Over the next few days, nearly all of the royal family return home, but The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh remain at Sandringham, making it their base until early February. Her Majesty traditionally spends her Accession Day – February 6 – at Sandringham before returning to London.

As mentioned, there are several other current and former royal residences on the estate.

York Cottage. source: Wikipedia

York Cottage was the home of King George V and Queen Mary from the time of their marriage in 1893, and where most of their children were born. Today, it used as offices for the estate.

Park House. source: The Sandringham Estate

Park House. source: The Sandringham Estate

Park House was the birthplace of Diana, Princess of Wales. Read more about Park House here!

Appleton House

Appleton House

Appleton House was given to Princess Maud, the daughter of King Edward VII, upon her marriage to the future King Haakon VII of Norway. It was also the birthplace of their son, the future King Olav V, in 1903. After Maud’s death, King Haakon returned the house to the royal family, and it was used occasionally to house visiting members of the royal family. After years of not being used, the house was torn down in 1984.

Anmer Hall. source: The Telegraph

Anmer Hall is currently the country home of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Previous residents also include the Duke and Duchess of Kent, who leased the property from 1972 until 1990.

Learn more about the other British Royal Residences here!

Palace of Holyroodhouse

source: Wikipedia, David Monniaux

Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is The Queen’s official residence in Scotland. It’s located in the ‘Old Town’ area of Edinburgh, at the end of the Royal Mile. The Palace is set in about 10 acres, which are part of the much larger Holyrood Park, and features gardens laid out by Prince Albert. Immediately adjacent to the palace are the ruins of Holyrood Abbey.

The palace’s origins begin with a monastery founded in 1128 by King David I. The name, Holy Rood (‘Holy Cross’) is believed to have come from the fragment of the True Cross which was in the possession of the King’s mother, St. Margaret of Scotland (born Margaret of Wessex, she was the wife of King Malcolm III of Scotland). For many years, the Scottish royals chose to live in the guesthouse at the Abbey, instead of the more fortress-like Edinburgh Castle at the opposite end of the Royal Mile. The first palace on the site was built by King James IV in 1501-1505 and was enlarged by King James V in 1528-1536.

Mary, Queen of Scots. source: Wikipedia

Perhaps the most well-known resident of the Palace of Holyroodhouse was Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary took up residence in 1561 and would remain at Holyroodhouse until her abdication in 1567. She married Lord Darnley in the palace chapel in 1565, and then married her third husband, The Earl of Bothwell, in 1567 in the great hall. The palace was also the site of the murder of Dennis Rizzio, in the Queen’s apartments in the northwest tower, in 1566.

By the beginning of the 17th century, the Sovereigns spent little time at Holyroodhouse. In 1646, King Charles I appointed an hereditary Keeper of Holyroodhouse to oversee the property. The Dukes of Hamilton holds this position to this day, although it is merely ceremonial now. It would be over 175 years before the Palace of Holyroodhouse was once again used as a formal residence for the Sovereign.

From 1671-1678, the palace was rebuilt and restored after years if neglect and several fires. The result was the building that we see today. It was used for many years as grace-and-favour residences for members of the nobility. It also housed some foreign royals. Following the French Revolution, King George III provided apartments at the palace for the Comte d’Artois, the brother of the French king Louis XVI, who lived there from 1796 until 1803. He later returned again in 1830 before moving to Austria in 1832.

It was during this time that the Palace began its return to glory as a royal residence. King George IV visited the palace in 1822, the first reigning monarch to do so since King Charles I in the mid-1600s. Although he did not stay there, he held several functions and instructed that necessary repairs be made, and the palace be updated. He ordered that the apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots, remain unaltered and be preserved as they were, and to remain so forever.

It was King William IV, in 1834, who made provided a home at the palace for the High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The High Commissioner (whoever is appointed), continues to have use of apartments at the palace during the sitting of the Assembly. The Queen herself has opened the Assembly several times, and each of her four children have served as High Commissioner.

Queen Victoria first visited Holyroodhouse in 1850, and a few years later, part of the palace was formally opened to the public for tours. Slowly, the royal household began clearing out the many grace-and-favour residents, and The Queen was able to reside at the palace for the first time in 1871.

King George V is credited with the modernization of the palace, with heating and electricity being added prior to his first visit in 1911. And in 1920, he had the palace formally designated as the Sovereign’s official residence in Scotland. He and Queen Mary began the tradition of spending a week each year at the palace and hosted the first garden party in the palace gardens in 1928.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrive at the palace, June 2015. source: The Daily Mail

The Queen spends a week at Holyroodhouse each year at the end of June and beginning of July. Upon her arrival, an ancient ceremony – The Presentation of the Keys of the City of Edinburgh – takes place in the palace forecourt. The Lord Provost welcomes Her Majesty and presents her with the great key of the city. The Queen accepts the key and then hands it back to the Provost to be kept safe until her next visit.

During Holyrood Week, the Queen holds an investiture in the Great Gallery, and she and the Duke of Edinburgh host nearly 8,000 people for a garden party on the grounds. While in Edinburgh, The Queen attends a service for the Order of the Thistle at the nearby St. Giles’ Cathedral, and hosts a luncheon for members in the Throne Room at the palace. She also hosts official visits, including the First Minister of Scotland, and other dignitaries. In 2010, she welcomed Pope Benedict XVI as part of his State Visit to the United Kingdom.

The Prince of Wales, as Duke of Rothesay, also stays at Holyroodhouse for a week each year, and other members of the Royal Family stay there occasionally when in Scotland. In July 2011, many of the Royal Family were in residence for the wedding of Zara Phillips, daughter of the Princess Royal, and Mike Tindall, who married at the Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh.

The bedchamber of Mary, Queen of Scots. source: The Royal Collection

The bedchamber of Mary, Queen of Scots. source: The Royal Collection

The chambers of Mary, Queen of Scots, are perhaps the palace’s biggest attraction for visitors. Located on the second floor of the northwest tower, they consist of an audience chamber with two turret rooms (one of which was her private dining room), the Queen’s bedchamber and an outer chamber. In the outer chamber was the Queen’s oratory, a prayer niche. It was here that Dennis Rizzio was savagely murdered by Lord Darnley and his supporters. Immediately below, on the first floor, are a series of matching rooms, which were used by Lord Darnley. The two bedrooms were joined by a private spiral staircase.

The State apartments are primarily located on the first floor of the southern and eastern wings of the palace, while the private apartments of The Queen and members of the royal family are located on the second floor. The State Rooms include the Throne Room, the Evening Drawing Room, the Morning Drawing Room, and the Great Gallery.

The Throne Room was previously used as the Guard Hall at the time of King George IV’s visit in 1822. Today, it used for formal events, including the luncheon for Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Thistle.

The Queen with the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, in the Evening Drawing Room, 2015. source: The Daily Mail

The Morning and Evening Drawing Rooms are used today for private audiences with The Queen.

The Great Gallery is the largest room in the palace, and had once joined the King’s and Queen’s apartments in the east and west wings of the palace. It is decorated with 110 portraits of real, and legendary, Scottish monarchs. During the residence of the Comte d’Artois, it was used as a Catholic chapel. Today, it is used for Investiture ceremonies, banquets, and other larger functions.

Learn more about the other British Royal Residences here!

Royal Lodge, Windsor

by Scott Mehl

source: The Daily Mail

source: The Daily Mail

Royal Lodge

Set on 40 hectares within Windsor Great Park, Royal Lodge has been the official residence of The Duke of York since 2004. It is perhaps best known as the residence of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who lived there for over 70 years until her death in 2002.

There appears to have been a house on the property as far back as the mid-1600s, and by the mid- 1700s, it was used as part of an adjacent dairy. At different times, it was known as Lower Lodge, Great Lodge and Dairy Lodge. It then became the home of the Deputy Ranger of Windsor Great Park, and was known as the Deputy Ranger’s House.

In 1812, the Prince Regent (later King George IV) used the house as temporary lodgings while he undertook the rebuilding of nearby Cumberland Lodge, which was his intended residence. The house became known as the Prince Regent’s Cottage. He expanded the house, which then became known as King’s Cottage following his accession, with the intention of using it to house guests during Royal Ascot. In 1825, the Royal Chapel of All Saints was built, as the chapels in both the King’s Cottage and Cumberland Lodge were too small to accommodate the household. Around this time, the house became known as Royal Lodge.

When William IV became King in 1830, he ordered the demolition of the house and had it rebuilt more in the style which we see today. For the next 100 years, it was used primarily as a residence for officers of the Royal Household.

Y Bwthyn Bach, in the grounds of Royal Lodge. source: The Daily Mail

Y Bwthyn Bach, in the grounds of Royal Lodge. source: The Daily Mail

In 1931, King George V gave the house to the Duke and Duchess of York (the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) as a country retreat. Two wings were added on each side, and the grounds were also developed further. Two lodges were constructed at the entrance to the estate, with three smaller cottages on either side of them. The following year, the people of Wales gave a small cottage – Y Bwthyn Bach – to then-Princess Elizabeth. The cottage sits in the grounds of Royal Lodge and was a favorite playsite of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, as well as later generations. The cottage was recently restored and updated by Princess Beatrice of York.

After their accession in 1936, George VI and Elizabeth took up residence at Windsor Castle, but continued to use Royal Lodge regularly. Following the King’s death in 1952, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother returned to Royal Lodge and made it her home for the remainder of her life. It was here, on March 30, 2002, that The Queen Mother passed away, at the age of 101.  The property returned to the Crown Estate.

Following extensive renovations, Royal Lodge became the home of Prince Andrew, The Duke of York in 2004, who leased the property from the Crown Estate on a 75-year lease. In lieu of annual rent, it was agreed that he would make a one-time payment of £1million, as well as paying for the renovation in full (a project with exceeded £7.5million).

Learn more about the other British Royal Residences here!

Bagshot Park

by Scott Mehl

source: The Daily Mail

source: The Daily Mail

Bagshot Park

Bagshot Park is the residence of The Earl and Countess of Wessex and their family. It is comprised of 21 hectares within Windsor Great Park, near the village of Bagshot, Surrey, and includes the Mansion House, a block of stables, and several lodges. The property is owned by the Crown Estate, and has been leased to The Earl of Wessex since March 1998. There are also two farms on the greater area of Bagshot Park, but these are not part of the property leased to the Earl and are independently managed by the Crown Estate.

The area now known as Bagshot Park was a favorite hunting ground of the Stuart kings, and several hunting lodges have been located there. The original house – known as Bagshot Lodge, was built in the 1630s as part of a series of small lodges for King Charles I. For many years, the house was leased by the Crown. One notable tenant was George Keppel, 3rd Earl of Albermarle (a distant relative of The Duchess of Cornwall), who lived there in the 1760s and 1770s, and made significant renovations to the property.

the original house, c1790. source: Wikipedia

In 1798, the Mansion House was altered again for the Duke of Clarence (later King William IV) who lived there until 1816. At that point, Bagshot Park became the home of The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester following their wedding. The Duchess was Princess Mary, daughter of King George III, and her husband (and first cousin) was Prince William Frederick, son of Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, a brother of King George III. The Duchess retained Bagshot Park until her death in 1857. In the early 1860s, the property was given to Sir James Clark, Queen Victoria’s physician, upon his retirement. He lived there until his death in 1870.

A new house was built between 1875-1879, consisting of over 120 rooms, and the old house was demolished. Following his marriage, Bagshot Park became the home of Queen Victoria’s third son, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn and his wife, Princess Luise Margarete of Prussia. The Duke would remain at Bagshot Park until his death there in 1942.

After World War II, Bagshot was leased to the Ministry of Defense and was used to house the Army Chaplains Department. They remained there until 1996 when the leasehold was returned to the Crown. Soon after, Prince Edward expressed an interest in the estate and decided to lease the property from the Crown Estate.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children, photographed in the dining room at Bagshot Park for the Earl’s 50th birthday, 2014. source: Zimbio

Under the terms of the agreement, the property first needed extensive renovations which cost just under £3million. The Crown contributed £1.6 million (received from the Ministry of Defense when they released the property), and Edward contributed the remaining £1.4 million. During the renovations, the rent was set at £5,000 per year and rose to £90,000 per year once the work was finished.

Learn more about the other British Royal Residences here!

Frogmore House

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia, Gill Hicks

Frogmore House

Frogmore House is located on the Frogmore Estate in the private Home Park of Windsor Castle. Set on 33 acres, Frogmore was a favorite retreat of Queen Victoria. Within the grounds are the Royal Burial Ground, the Royal Mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the mausoleum for Queen Victoria’s mother, The Duchess of Kent. While no longer used as a residence, Frogmore House and the grounds are occasionally used by members of the Royal Family for official events and receptions, as well as private family functions.

Frogmore House was built between 1680-1684 and was leased out for many years. From 1709 until 1738, it was leased to George FitzRoy, Duke of Northumberland, an illegitimate son of King Charles II. Later tenants also included Edward Walpole, son of the Prime Minister. After taking the lease for several years, King George III purchased Frogmore for Queen Charlotte in 1792, to use as a retreat. Of course, renovations were needed to make it suitable for a royal residence, and the architect James Wyatt was hired to enlarge the house. The second floor was enlarged, and single-floor pavilions were added on the north and south sides of the house. These were later expanded to make room for a dining room and library to the south, and matching rooms to the north.

Queen Charlotte with King George III and their six eldest children. source: Wikipedia

Queen Charlotte took great interest in the gardens, and is credited with much of the landscape which exists today. She and her daughters often spent time at Frogmore, indulging in their artistic pursuits, and some of their artwork is displayed throughout the house. The Queen had one of the principal rooms decorated by Mary Moser, a noted 18th century painter of flowers. The room is designed to look like an arbor open to the outside.

Following Queen Charlotte’s death in 1818, Frogmore was left to her daughter, Princess Augusta Sophia, who lived there until her death in 1840. The following year, Queen Victoria gave Frogmore to her mother, The Duchess of Kent, who died there in 1861. The house was then used occasionally by members of the Royal Family. Princess Alexandra, wife of the future King Edward VII, gave birth to her eldest son, Prince Albert Victor (Eddy) at Frogmore House in 1864. From 1866 until 1872, it was the home of Princess Helena, 3rd daughter of Queen Victoria, and her husband, Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. During the reign of King Edward VII, the house was used by the future King George V and Queen Mary. And in 1923, the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth spent part of their honeymoon at Frogmore.

Perhaps most associated with Frogmore is Queen Mary. From 1925 (following the death of the Dowager Queen Alexandra) until her own death in 1953, Queen Mary spent large amounts of time at Frogmore, arranging and cataloging many of the royal treasures that she acquired. These efforts have transformed the house into, in her own words, “a family souvenir museum, as well as a museum of bygones and of interesting odds and ends.” She also reworked some of the gardens

The Duke of Edinburgh has also contributed to Frogmore. Following the decommissioning of the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1997, the Duke designed the Britannia Room (formerly Queen Charlotte’s library, and Queen Mary’s dining room), displaying items which reflect the interior of the yacht. Prominent in the room is a large mahogany table which was made for the yacht in the 1950s.

Today, Frogmore House is occasionally used by the Royal Family for meetings and receptions, as well as private functions. In 2008, it was the site of the reception following the wedding of The Queen’s eldest grandson, Peter Phillips, and Autumn Kelly.

Other buildings in the grounds include:

Queen Victoria’s Tea House. photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

– Queen Victoria’s Tea House, where The Queen often took her tea or lunch, and worked on her red boxes.

– Frogmore Cottage, which is now used as a grace and favour residence. From 1925 until 1936, King George loaned the cottage to his first cousin, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia and her family.

The Duchess of Kent Mausoleum. source: Wikipedia,

– The Duchess of Kent Mausoleum, which is the burial site of Queen Victoria’s mother, The Duchess of Kent. When construction began, it was intended that the top part of the building would serve as a summer house for the Duchess, while the lower part was designed to be her final resting place. However, the Duchess died before construction was completed, and the upper portion became part of the mausoleum.

The Royal Mausoleum and Royal Burial Ground. source: Wikipedia, Gill Hicks

– The Royal Mausoleum, which is the final resting place of Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert. It was built in 1861-1862 following the death of Prince Albert, and contains the couple’s large marble tomb. There are also several memorials to other members of the Queen’s family, including her daughter Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, and her father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.

Surrounding the Royal Mausoleum is the Royal Burial Ground. It was established in 1928, and eight members of the royal family, previously interred in the Royal Crypt at St. George’s Chapel, were reburied here. It has become traditional for non-reigning members of the royal family to be buried here. The most recent burial was Sir Angus Ogilvy, husband of Princess Alexandra, a granddaughter of King George V, in 2005.

Learn more about the other British Royal Residences here!

Marlborough House

by Scott Mehl

source: Commonwealth Secretariat

source: Commonwealth Secretariat

Marlborough House

Marlborough House was last used as a royal residence for Queen Mary of the United Kingdom, who lived there until her death in 1953. It is located just east of St. James’s Palace in London.

Marlborough House, c1750. source: Wikipedia

Although it was built on Crown land, Marlborough House wasn’t originally intended to be a royal residence. It was built in the early 1700s for Sarah Churchill, The Duchess of Marlborough and close confidante of Queen Anne of the United Kingdom. The land was then part of the grounds of St. James’s Palace, facing Pall Mall, and backing up onto The Mall. The noted architect Christopher Wren and his son designed the house to the specifications of the Duchess. Marlborough House would serve as the London residence of the Dukes of Marlborough until 1817 when it was taken over by the Crown.

That year it became the London residence of Princess Charlotte of Wales and her husband, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg (later King Leopold I of the Belgians). Saldy, Princess Charlotte died later that year, and Leopold only used the home occasionally in the following years. Following the accession of King William IV in 1830, Marlborough House was given to his wife, Queen Adelaide, for the remainder of her life. After her death in 1849, it housed the National Art Training School (now the Royal College of Art) from 1852-1861. Following a two year renovation, which included the addition of rooms on the north side as well as a large porch, Marlborough House became the London residence of the newly married Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and his wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, in 1863. Several of their children were born here, including the future King George V in 1865. Marlborough House also became the center of London society, with Edward and Alexandra’s close circle of friends becoming known as the Marlborough House Set.

Edward and Alexandra moved to Buckingham Palace following his accession in 1901, and Marlborough House became the home of the new Prince and Princess of Wales (later King George V and Queen Mary). Following Edward VII’s death in 1910, George and Mary moved to Buckingham Palace, and the Dowager Queen Alexandra returned to her beloved Marlborough House, where she would remain until her death in 1925. (Click here for a photo of Queen Alexandra’s bedroom, c1912, from the Royal Collection Trust.) Some changes were made the property, including the relocation of the main entrance gate which originally sat on Pall Mall. The entrance was moved to Marlborough Road, which passes between Marlborough House and St. James’s Palace. Following the death of King George V in 1936, Queen Mary returned to Marlborough House where she remained until her death in 1953.

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother had expressed her desire to move there following her husband’s death in 1952, but it was determined that Marlborough House would need extensive refurbishment and would be too expensive to maintain. Clarence House, which had recently been renovated for then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, was instead where The Queen Mother would make her home for the remainder of her life.

The Queen attends the Commonwealth Day Reception at Marlborough House, 2010. source: Zimbio

The Queen attends the Commonwealth Day Reception at Marlborough House, 2010. source: Zimbio

In 1959, Queen Elizabeth II gave Marlborough House to the British government to be used for the Commonwealth. It has been the home of the Commonwealth Secretariat since its establishment in 1965, and also houses the Commonwealth Foundation. As well as being the working home of the Commonwealth, Marlborough House often hosts conferences and summit meetings of the Commonwealth Heads of Government. There is also a reception every year on Commonwealth Day, which is attended by Her Majesty The Queen in her role as Head of the Commonwealth.

Marlborough House, as seen from The Mall. source: Wikipedia

The Marlborough House Gardens, at the back of the house overlooking The Mall, contain a thatched-roof rotating summer house built for Queen Mary, as well as Queen Alexandra’s pet cemetery.

Learn more about the other British Royal Residences here!

St. James’s Palace

source: Wikipedia, Steve Cadman

St. James’s Palace

Although no longer used as a residence for the Sovereign, St. James’s Palace is the official palace of the British Monarchy. Used primarily for official functions and office space, it also contains the London residences of The Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra, The Hon. Lady Ogilvy. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York have an apartment there as well. Adjoining the palace is Clarence House, the official residence of The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. (Read more about Clarence House HERE!)

St. James’s Palace was commissioned by King Henry VIII a smaller residence than Whitehall Palace, which was the sovereign’s residence at the time. It was built between 1531-1536 on the site of a former leper hospital dedicated to Saint James the Less, which is where the palace gets its name. The palace consists of numerous wings built around several courtyards – Colour Court, Ambassador’s Court, Engine Court and Friary Court. Perhaps the most recognized part of the palace is the Tudor Gatehouse on the northern wing. Spanning four stories, it is flanked by two octagonal towers and features a large central clock (which was added later, in 1731).

St. James’s Palace, 1715. source: Wikipedia

The palace was used by successive sovereigns as a secondary palace, and in 1638, King Charles I gave the palace to his mother-in-law, Marie de Medici who lived there for several years. It was at St. James’s Palace that King Charles I was confined prior to his execution in 1649. Oliver Cromwell converted the palace to barracks during the English Interregnum of 1649-1660. Following the restoration of the monarchy, King Charles II returned the palace to its former glory and laid out the expansive St. James’s Park. After Whitehall Palace was destroyed by fire in 1698, St. James’s Palace became a regular residence of the British sovereigns (although many preferred to live at Kensington Palace which had been purchased in the late 1680s).

St. James’s Palace became the working center of the monarchy, housing many of the offices of the royal court, as well as the offices of the German Chancery during the personal union with the Kingdom of Hanover. Kings George I and II used the palace occasionally, and both provided apartments there for their mistresses. A fire in 1809 destroyed much of the eastern and southern wings of the palace, including the private apartments of the King, located in the southeast corner of the building. While the State rooms were restored, much of the rest of this section was not rebuilt. This resulted in the Queen’s Chapel being separated from the rest of the Palace complex, as it remains today.

Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. source: Wikipedia

While her predecessors used St. James’s Palace as one of their residences, Queen Victoria instead chose to make Buckingham Palace her primary residence. St. James’s Palace continued to be used for formal and official occasions and housed the private apartments of various royals and court officials. One of the more notable examples is Queen Victoria’s nephew, Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, who lived in a large suite of rooms in the southern wing, overlooking The Mall.

The Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace. source: The Daily Mail

One part of the palace which continues to be used often is the Chapel Royal, located on the northern wing of the palace next to the gatehouse. The Chapel Royal has been the site of many royal weddings, including that of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840, and the future King George V and Princess Mary of Teck in 1893. It has also be the site of many royal christenings, including the 2013 christening of Prince George of Cambridge.

Today, the palace remains the official home of the British monarchy, and it is to the Court of St. James that foreign ambassadors are accredited. It also houses the offices of The Royal Collection and the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, as well as the Gentlemen at Arms and the Yeomen of the Guard who are based there. The Royal Philatelic Collection has been housed at St. James’s Palace since the early 2000s.

As the senior palace of the Monarchy, St James’s Palace also retains one very important ceremonial function. At the demise of the crown (the death of the Sovereign), the Accession Council convenes, and the accession of the new sovereign is proclaimed by the Garter King of Arms from the Proclamation Gallery, overlooking Friary Court.

Official Engagement photo of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. source: British Monarchy, photo by Mario Testino

Official Engagement photo of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, in The Council Chamber, St. James’s Palace. source: British Monarchy, photo by Mario Testino

Rarely seen by the public, the State Apartments are often the site of formal receptions and functions, particularly relating to the many charities patronized by members of the Royal Family. Following the announcement of their engagement in November 2010, Prince William and Catherine Middleton appeared at St. James’s Palace to greet the media. They also had their official engagement portraits taken there – a more formal photo taken in The Council Chamber (see above), and a more casual photo taken in the Cornwall Room.

Also part of St. James’s Palace is York House, located in the northwestern corner of the building. Built in 1736 for Frederick, Prince of Wales (son of King George II), York House has been the home of numerous members of the British Royal Family through the years, including Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (later King of Hanover). In 1893, it became the home of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary) until moving to Marlborough House in 1903. It became the home of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) in 1919. Following his abdication in 1937, York House became the home of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, who remained there until 1970. They were followed by the present Duke and Duchess of Kent who lived at York House from 1972 until the mid-1990s. It then became the home of The Prince of Wales and his sons, following his separation from Diana, Princess of Wales. Today, York House is used primarily as offices for the Household of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

Learn more about the other British Royal Residences here!

The Prince’s Palace, Monaco

by Scott Mehl

source: Wikipedia, Hans1967

The Prince’s Palace of Monaco

Located atop “Le Rocher” (the rock) in Monaco-ville, The Prince’s Palace is the home of The Sovereign Prince of Monaco and his family, as well as the seat of the Monegasque monarchy. It has been home to the Grimaldi family for over 700 years.

The Palace began as a Genoese fortress built in 1191. In 1297, Francois Grimaldi, disguised as a monk, managed to gain entrance and took control of the fortress. Thus began a long history of the Grimaldi family, who eventually became Lords, and then Princes, of Monaco.

Over the next 650 years, the palace transformed through the addition of buildings and wings, becoming more of a place, and less of a fortress. Much of this took place during the reign of Honore I (1523-1581), who built much of the existing palace. Honore II, the first Prince of Monaco (1604-1662), added the eastern wing which overlooks the Palace Square and extended the State Apartments, as well as building the beautiful staircase in the courtyard. He also began the extensive collection of art and tapestries which adorn the palace.

By the time of the accession of Prince Rainier III in 1949, the palace was in need of major repair and restoration. Rainier undertook the massive project, and along with his wife, Princess Grace, turned the palace into the royal showplace that we know today. In addition to overhauling all of the state and official rooms, he also rebuilt the formerly demolished southern wing which houses the private apartments.

Religious wedding of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene in the palace courtyard, July 2011. source: The Daily Mail

Religious wedding of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene in the palace courtyard, July 2011. source: The Daily Mail

The palace today is the working home of the Prince and Princess and is where all official ceremonies and functions take place. In addition, the people of Monaco are often invited to the palace on special occasions. Each year, the annual children’s Christmas party is held in the palace courtyard, as well as concerts of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra. The palace courtyard was also the site of the religious wedding ceremony of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene in 2011.

On the southern side of the courtyard is the magnificent double-revolution staircase, inspired by the staircase at the Palace of Fontainebleau in France. At the top of the Staircase is the Hercule Gallery which runs the length of the courtyard, and is adorned with frescoes of mythological figures, from the 16th and 17th centuries.

The State rooms, located in the southern wing, begin with the Hall of Mirrors, which is used for visiting royalty and Heads of State. Inspired by the Mirror Gallery at Versailles, the room’s mirrors give the impression of much larger space.

The Red Room, adorned with red silk brocade, is decorated in the Louis XV style and leads to the York Room.  The York Room is a state bedchamber which gets its name from Prince Edward, The Duke of York and Albany (younger brother of King George III of the United Kingdom). The Duke was aboard a ship bound for Genoa when he fell ill in the summer of 1767. The ship took port in Monaco and the Duke was brought the palace, where he died in this room on September 17, 1767. The York Room contains the marble mosaic table which is used to sign all official documents by the Sovereign Prince.

The Officer’s Room is used by court officials to greet guests before an audience with the Prince. It adjoins the Blue Room, adorned with blue silk brocade, which is used for official receptions.

The Throne Room, in preparation for the civil marriage ceremony of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, July 2011. source: The Daily Mail

The Throne Room, in preparation for the civil marriage ceremony of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, July 2011. source: The Daily Mail

The Throne Room has been the site of all state ceremonies since the 16th century. The throne sits on a dais beneath a red silk canopy, surmounted by a gilt throne. The frescoes in the room depict the surrender of Alexander the Great. The Throne Room was the site of the civil marriage ceremony of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene in July 2011.  The photo above shows the marble mosaic table which is normally kept in the York Room.

Other rooms include the Mazarin Room, the Louis XII bedchamber and the State Hall, which connects the eastern and southern wings of the palace and leads to the dining room and the private apartments of the Princely family.

This link to the official site of the palace includes photos of several of the State Rooms.

Learn more about other Monegasque Royal Residences here!