by Scott Mehl
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.
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 in 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!