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 11 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.
Clarence House has been the London residence of several members of the British royal family for 200 years. During World War Two it became the headquarters of the Red Cross and St John Ambulance Brigade following Prince Arthur’s death in 1942, before in 1947 the newlywed Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip moved to Clarence, where Princess Anne was born in 1950.
Following Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne in 1953, she moved to Buckingham Palace and The Queen Mother moved into Clarence House, residing there for almost 50 years. In recent years, both Prince William and Prince Harry have lived at Clarence House, while today it is one of King Charles and Queen Camilla’s homes.
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.
Today, the Highgrove estate has an
As the private residence of King Charles and Camilla, Highgrove House itself is closed to the public, but its extensive, interlinked series of gardens each reflecting the King’s interests and enthusiasms are open to visitors for tours
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.
Windsor Castle remained a favourite home of Queen Elizabeth, and she spent most of her weekends there. There was a huge fire at the castle in November 1992 which took 15 hours and 1.5 million gallons of water to extinguish. In May 2018, St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle hosted the wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Queen Elizabeth II died on 8 September 2022. Following her state funeral in Westminster Abbey, her coffin was then transported to Windsor and carried up the Long Walk at Windsor Castle in a ceremonial procession. A committal service was then held in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, followed by a private internment service. She was then buried along with Prince Philip, alongside her father King George VI, mother and sister in The King George VI Memorial chapel.
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.
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.
Today, Kensington Palace remains a royal residence of the Prince and Princess of Wales, alongside a number of other members of the royal family. It is also open to visitors under the remit of Historic Royal Palaces however, with 4 different routes available to explore its many intriguing rooms.
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.
In September 2022, Queen Elizabeth II died there, aged 96. Her reign spanned 70 years, making her the United Kingdom’s longest serving monarch.
Today Balmoral Castle remains the private residence of the British Royal family, and as such many of their private rooms are closed to the public. Between April and July however, some of Balmoral is open for visitors.
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.
Holyroodhouse Palace in Scotland has a fascinating history stretching back to the 12th century, and is now the official Scottish residence of the King. Its story has been intertwined with that of the monarchy for centuries, with Mary, Queen of Scots another famous resident of Holyroodhouse.
Today, Holyroodhouse Palace is open to visitors to explore its eminent halls, with most of what remains dating from the 17th century. The ruined Holyrood Abbey may also be viewed, alongside the large gardens and grounds, featuring a host of picturesque fountains, statues, and greenery.
St James’s Palace has been the setting for some of the most important events in Royal history. It was also the official residence of Kings and Queens of England for over 300 years, from King Henry VIII up until the reign of Queen Victoria. Despite much of the palace being destroyed by fire in 1809 (with a majority of the original palace being remodelled during the 19th century) much of the original Tudor work remains today, including a gatehouse, some turrets, parts of the state rooms and the Chapel Royal.
St James’s Palace has played host to many important events, and is where Charles I spent his last night inside the Palace and took communion here on the morning of his execution. Births and baptisms of numerous future monarchs such as Prince George in 2013, as well as royal marriages such as Queen Victoria’s and Prince Albert’s have also taken place here.
Today, St James’s Palace is still a working palace, being the home of several members of the Royal Family and their household offices (including the London residences of Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice and Princess Alexandra). On the death of the monarch, The Accession Council meets in St James’s Palace before the Garter King of Arms proclaims the accession of a new monarch.
Anmer Hall is a Georgian country house in the village of Anmer in Norfolk, England. Built in the 19th century, it was acquired by the monarch’s Sandringham Estate after Queen Victoria purchased the property, and has previously been leased to business owners, civil servants, and members of the British royal family. It is currently the country residence of the Prince and Princess of Wales, having been given to the couple as a wedding gift by Queen Elizabeth II in 2011 as a “countryside bolthole”.
Anmer Hall continues to be Prince William, Princess Kate and their three children’s private country home, and the family reportedly spend many weekends, school holidays and Christmas there. The family spent most of the national lockdowns during the Covid pandemic at Amner, homeschooling their children and continuing to conduct royal engagements via video calls.