Royal family: 20 of the grandest British royal residencies
King Charles III and his nearest and dearest are fortunate enough to have an impressive portfolio of historic palaces, sprawling estates and country houses at their disposal. These are the most notable regal residences that they call home.
1. Buckingham Palace
The monarch’s official residence and administrative HQ since Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, Buckingham Palace is London’s largest house and boasts the capital’s biggest private garden. An original townhouse on the site was acquired by King George III in 1761 and after his accession in 1820, George IV had it substantially remodelled and extended with the help of architect John Nash. Today the palace incorporates 775 rooms, a 108-metre-wide front façade and probably the world’s most famous balcony. Major upgrades are currently underway.
2. Windsor Castle
As the oldest and biggest occupied castle in the world, 1,000-year-old Windsor Castle has witnessed more history than most. It was a particular favourite of Queen Elizabeth II, and the major fire in 1992 was one of the events that led to her describing the year as her annus horribilis. Many royal weddings – including that of Prince Harry and Megan Markle in 2018 – have been held in the castle’s St George’s Chapel, and the late Queen, the Dule of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret are buried there.
3. Palace of Holyrood
Standing at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, this palace was founded as a monastery in 1128 and is used by the King for carrying out official engagements in Scotland. The first Scottish garden party of his reign will be held on July 4th.
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This 20,000-acre working estate, close to the north Norfolk coast, is the King’s private country retreat and was much-loved by his mother. It includes an organic farm, a sawmill and numerous commercial and residential buildings, including the Jacobean-inspired main house, Sandringham House, and Wood Farm, where Prince Philip lived after his retirement.
5. Balmoral Castle
For the past 170 years, this magnificent baronial-style castle has been the Royal family’s Scottish home and is privately owned by the King. Prince Albert bought it in 1852 for Queen Victoria, and successive generations have spent their summers enjoying the great outdoors – picnicking, walking, shooting and unwinding in the 50,000 acres of grounds. It’s believed to have been Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite retreat and where she spent her final days.
King Charles inherited this Scottish estate, adjoining Balmoral, from his grandmother the Queen Mother in 2002. He and Queen Camilla love it so much that they honeymooned there in 2005.
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7. Kensington Palace
Until recently, the Prince and Princess of Wales lived in a sizeable apartment there, and it remains their official London home. Previous residents include Princess Diana, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – who were photographed in the sunken garden to mark their engagement in 2017 – and Princess Margaret. It was also the childhood home of Queen Victoria, and where she first met Prince Albert.
8. Highgrove House
Since the Duchy of Cornwall purchased this nine-bedroom Georgian house near Tetbury in Gloucester in 1980, King Charles – then Duke of Cornwall – has remodelled it, incorporating eco-friendly additions such as solar panels, low-energy lighting, a wood chip boiler, and even a reed bed sewage management system, for purifying the royal household effluent. He’s also created trailblazing organic gardens, which are open to the public. Ownership has now passed to Prince William, as the new Duke of Cornwall.
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9. Clarence House
This Nash-designed, Stucco-fronted central London mansion was home to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for nearly half a century. Before the King – then Prince Charles - and Queen Camilla moved in in 2003, they had it fully refurbished and decorated, and continue to stay there while work on Buckingham Palace continues.
10. St James’ Palace
Built by King Henry VIII, Princess Anne’s London base is a working palace hosting up to 100 functions per year. History was made last September when King Charles was proclaimed King in the throne room.
11. Hillsborough Castle
Northern Ireland’s royal residence and the official home of the secretary of state for Northern Ireland is a short drive from Belfast. The gardens are planted with over half a million bulbs and regarded as among the best in the country.
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12. Ray Mill House
Following her divorce from Andrew Parker-Bowles, Queen Camilla reportedly paid £850,000 for this six-bedroom country house near Lacock in Wiltshire in 1994. Just like her husband, she loves gardening, and Highgrove House is conveniently only 15 minutes away.
13. Adelaide Cottage
Located on the Windsor Estate and built for King William IV’s wife Queen Adelaide in 1831, this four-bedroom house is very modest by royal standards. Prince William and his family relocated here from London last autumn and though they’ve downsized for now, are expected to move into Windsor Castle in the not-to-distant future.
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14. Anmer Hall
Anmer Hall forms part of the Sandringham estate and was gifted by the Queen to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after their wedding. They lived in the 10-bedroom Georgian house full time when the Duke was a pilot with East Anglian Air Ambulance, and often return during the school holidays.
15. Llwynywermod Estate
Another Duchy of Cornwall-owned property, close to the Brecon Beacons and comprising a farmhouse, barn and rental cottages, set in nearly 200 acres.
16. Gatcombe Park
Princess Anne spends much of her time in her 700-acre Gloucestershire estate, a present from her mother the Queen in 1976. She and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, live in a historic nine-bedroom manor house and her children Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips also have homes in the grounds.
17. Bagshot Park
Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex have resided in this 120-room Victorian country house since getting married in 1999. 11 miles from Windsor Castle, it belongs to the Crown Estate and the couple recently paid £5m to extend the lease by 150 years.
18. Frogmore Cottage
No stranger to controversy, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s 10-bedroom Windsor house was renovated using £2.4m of taxpayers’ money but the couple repaid the sum in full before moving to California. Up until now it’s remained as their UK home, but they’ve recently been asked to vacate it.
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19. The Royal Lodge
In a slightly unconventional arrangement, Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson have occupied this mid-17th century house – previously the Queen Mother’s Windsor home – since 2004. However if the rumours can be believed, they’ll soon be moving out as the King has offered them the smaller Frogmore Cottage.
20. Chateau of Riven Rock, Montecito, California
Prince Harry’s stateside home couldn’t be more different from Kensington Palace and Highgrove House, where he was brought up. For starters it’s only 20 years old and has a laid-back rather than a stuffy vibe and more bathrooms (16) than bedrooms (nine). However, the billiards room and library may serve as a reminder of what he’s missing back in Blighty.
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