Alongside the more famous opulent palaces, the Royal Family have a range of both city and rural residences that they call home. While some of these properties are owned by the Crown Estate, others are privately owned by the Royal Family. Here we take a look at the fascinating history of 7 British royal residences, as well as their current use today.
Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of Britain’s monarchs since 1837, when Queen Victoria first occupied it. With 775 rooms, Buckingham Palace is a magnificently vast site and one of Britain’s most recognisable buildings. Today, Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the monarch, whose presence in the building is signified by the raising of the Royal Standard flag upon its roof. Buckingham Palace also serves an administrative centre in which the monarch hosts official receptions and events, alongside housing the offices of the monarch’s staff.
Adelaide Cottage (formerly known as Adelaide Lodge) is a Grade II listed property located in Home Park, the 655-acre private Royal Park of Windsor Castle, in Windsor, Berkshire. The Cottage is just to the east of Windsor Castle, around half a mile’s walk from the castle itself, and is currently the principal residence of the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children, after they relocated there from Kensington Palace in September 2022.
Adelaide Cottage was rebuilt on the site of an old Head Keeper’s Lodge in 1831 in the picturesque style under the supervision of architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville, for the wife of King William IV – Queen Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen – as a summer retreat. Building materials from Royal Lodge were used in its construction and many royal experts have described the cottage as one of the most “aesthetically pleasing” residences that make up the royal estate.
Highgrove House has been a much-loved family home of King Charles III since he bought it in 1980, and is where he chose to live with Camilla, now Queen Consort, when he was the Prince of Wales. Highgrove lies two miles south-west of Tetbury in Gloucestershire, England, in the beautiful countryside of the Cotswolds.
Since moving in, Charles and his team of experts have famously transformed the gardens, creating a beautiful environment run according to Charles’s environmental principles. Within five years, Charles introduced organic farming on the grounds, and the estate gained full organic status in 1994. Charles opened the Highgrove retail shops in 1992, and the gardens at Highgrove have been open to the public since 1996.
Kensington Palace in London has been the home of Britain’s young royals for over 300 years, including Queen Victoria who was born and raised there. It was at Kensington Palace that she was informed of the death of her uncle William IV, and that subsequently she was Queen of the UK at the tender age of 18.
In later years Kensington Palace continued to be used as a residence for minor royals during their stays in London. More recently, Kensington Palace was the home of the late Princess Margaret, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and Princess of Kent, and the late Princess Diana, who used it as her chief residence following her divorce from Prince Charles.
Situated in the Home Park of Windsor Castle, Grade-I listed Frogmore House is a 17th century English country house owned by the Crown Estate. It is part of the Frogmore Estate, half a mile south of Windsor Castle. It was let to a number of tenants until the 18th century, when it was used intermittently as a residence by several British royals.
The house has continued to be in use by the royal family for both living in and entertaining in, and has been used as a venue for wedding receptions for figures such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018. The gardens include a mausoleum of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Balmoral Castle has been the official Highlands home of the British royal family since the reign of Queen Victoria, who first bought the lease to Balmoral in 1848, despite having never visited the site itself. Finding the existing castle too small however, they commissioned Aberdeen architect William Smith to build a completely new structure some 100 yards from the original. Prince Albert himself had a role in the design process, taking a particular interest in its turrets and windows, and the Balmoral Castle we see today was built between 1853 and 1856.
Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world – home to over 900 years of royal history. Covering an area of approximately 13 acres, it contains a wide range of interesting features. These include the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s dolls house and the beautiful St George’s Chapel. It is also the burial place of 11 monarchs, including Henry VIII and his beloved wife, Jane Seymour.