by Scott Mehl
Fort Belvedere is best known as being the residence of the future King Edward VIII / Duke of Windsor. It was where he signed the Instrument of Abdication. However, there’s much more to the history of the Fort.
Located in Windsor Great Park, adjoining Windsor Castle, Fort Belvedere is part of the Crown Estate. It was built between 1750-1755 for Prince William Augustus, The Duke of Cumberland (son of King George II), and used as a summer house. Later, in 1828, it was enlarged to be used as a hunting lodge. From 1910, it was used as a grace-and-favour residence for Sir Malcolm Murray, the Comptroller to the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, who lived nearby at Bagshot Park.
In 1930, it became the residence of The Prince of Wales (future Edward VIII). Even after becoming King, Edward continued to use Fort Belvedere as his Windsor residence. It was here, in December 1936, that King Edward VIII signed the Instrument of Abdication, in the presence of his three brothers. The following night, after a radio address given from Windsor Castle, the now former King left the Fort for Austria where he awaited Mrs. Simpson’s divorce to become final.
During WWII, it was used as offices and then sat empty for some time. In 1956, the Fort was leased to The Hon. Gerald Lascelles, the younger son of Princess Mary The Princess Royal. Lascelles lived at the Fort until 1976, and the following year the lease was granted to a son of the Emir of Dubai. Currently, the residents are Galen Weston and his wife Hilary, the former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.