Were you even aware of how many stately residences Her Majesty The Queen presides over? Here we visit each one to take a stroll around the grounds.
1. Buckingham Palace
The site of Buckingham Palace has been of royal significance since the 17th century and, as the official residence of the reigning monarch, it now serves as headquarters for Queen Elizabeth, who holds a weekly meeting with the British Prime Minister here, as well as official events and ceremonies that see Her Majesty receive more than 50,000 official guests each year. The Palace has 775 rooms, including 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.
2. Windsor Castle
Also an official residence of The Queen, think of Windsor Castle as Her Majesty’s weekender. With over 1,000 rooms to rattle around in, it’s a little more than a fibro beach shack or log cabin however. In the royal family for over 1,000 years, it is both the oldest and the largest inhabited castle in the world today with around 150 people in residence. The State Apartments house treasures from the Royal Collection and The Royal Archives, Photography Collection, Print Room and Library are all located here. Mostly spending weekends here when her schedule allows, The Queen stays for an extended period around Easter and again in June. Windsor Castle suffered from a devastating fire in 1992, which destroyed 20% of the area, now restored to its former glory.
3. Holyrood Palace, Scotland
Holyrood is The Queen’s official residence in Scotland and each year, welcomed by a guard of honour she spends a week here meeting and visiting Scottish residents and celebrating all things Scottish. At other times during the year the palace is open to visitors and tours are held of the State Apartments, the remains of Holyrood Abbey, Palace Gardens and Galleries.
4. Balmoral Castle, Scotland
Used by Queen Elizabeth as her summer home, Balmoral Castle was purchased in 1852 by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and is therefore owned privately by The Queen, rather than The Crown. Her Majesty spends more time at Balmoral than any other monarch since Queen Victoria, often joined by other members of the royal family. It too is open to the public during April and July every year.
5. Sandringham Estate
A favourite of King George V and again owned privately by The Queen, who inherited it from her father in 1952, Sandringham House is located in Norfolk on 8,000 hectares of land. It too suffered major damages in a fire in 1981 but has since been repaired and restored. The Queen spends Christmas at Sandringham Estate, joined by all the members of the Royal Family who usually attend the morning church service altogether. This year it is reported that Meghan Markle will join the Royal Family at Sandringham in an unprecedented break with tradition, ahead of her marriage to Prince Harry.
6. Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland
The official residence of The Queen and royal family when in Northern Ireland, Hillsborough Castle is used by Her Majesty similarly to Holyrood Palace. The property comprises a late Georgian house and 100 acres of gardens, all run by Historic Royal Palaces, an independent charity who conduct tours and events on the property.
It is also the official government residence for the Secretary of State in Northern Ireland and is this year undergoing major renovations and enhancements to make it more accessible to the public.