The royal residence secrets you never knew, from concealed passageway at Buckingham Palace to trap door at Windsor Castle

From Windsor Castle to Kensington Palace there are several royal residence secrets and design details that many might not know about...

The royal residence secrets you never knew revealed. Seen here are Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace
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Several royal residence secrets have been revealed over the years, shedding new light on the Royal Family’s lives behind closed palace doors.  

Given the historical nature of the Royal Family’s best-known palaces, from Sandringham House to Windsor Castle, it’s perhaps no surprise at all that there are secrets within some of these regal residences’ walls. The actual royal residence secrets themselves, though, are incredibly intriguing and several have been revealed over the years. If the monarch wants to make a grand entrance into a room or fellow royals want to slip outside a palace undetected, there are structural details that make this possible in a matter of moments. 

Here we delve into the royal room secrets plenty of fans might never have heard of and share the design features that provide a helping hand to the Royal Family. 

Camilla, Queen Consort arrives to present The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award

(Image credit: Photo by Paul Grover-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Royal residence secrets of Buckingham Palace

Secret Passageway to the White Drawing Room  

Perhaps the most iconic of the Royal Family’s residences, Buckingham Palace has a staggering 775 rooms and all that space leaves plenty of scope for secret royal rooms. Helping the late Queen Elizabeth and any other royals who pay a visit to Buckingham Palace to make a grand entrance is a secret passageway. 

Fans were previously treated to a rare glimpse of this particular royal residence secret on UK network ITV’s Good Morning Britain back in 2015. GMB Host Kate Garraway walked into the White Drawing Room at the monarch’s principal London residence, only to reveal that one of the immense mirrors on the wall is guarding a major secret. 

She explained, “This is the White Drawing Room. Looks beautiful, doesn't it? If you pull this open you can see that actually behind this there is a secret passage leading to the Queen's private apartments."

This reveal was something that Royal Collection Trust curator Anna Reynolds shed more light on, explaining that it allowed the late Queen, and presumably now King Charles too, to get to where they need to be to meet guests without crossing multiple rooms. 

The White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace

(Image credit: Photo by Nick Ansell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

“This is the way to the Queen's apartments. Often when the Queen is meeting guests, they're lined up for her here in the Music Room for her to meet,” Anna shared. “It allows her to make an entrance without having to walk through all of the different palace rooms."

Whilst not technically one of the secret royal rooms itself, this little-known passageway does provide seamless access to certain rooms for the monarch across the magnificent palace.

The Buckingham Palace Cinema 

The Queen’s favorite film might have been Flash Gordon but there are plenty of other movies that the royals could’ve watched over the years in Buckingham Palace’s very own cinema room. Writing in The Times back in 2019, journalist Emily Maitlis described the work that was being done to construct this little-known palace feature. 

Recalling how she noticed the floor being “transformed” in the south drawing room during her time at the palace to interview Prince Andrew, Emily explained, “It look[ed] for a minute as if railway tracks [were] going down.”

Life Guards, and Blues and Royals, units of the Household Cavalry (top) and Household Division Foot Guards prepare at Buckingham Palace

(Image credit: Photo by Daniel Leal - Pool/Getty Images)

She wrote, “The kind young woman who has shown us in sees my confusion. ‘It’s for the Buckingham Palace cinema,’ she tells me. ‘All the people who work here come along. It’s Judy tonight if you want to stay.’”

So it seems that regular Buckingham Palace movies have become a firm favorite amongst those who work at this magnificent royal residence. And who knows whether any of the Queen’s great-grandchildren ever got to enjoy watching a special movie with Her Majesty here?

Royal residence secrets of Windsor Castle

Nestled in the Berkshire countryside close by to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s home, Adelaide Cottage, Windsor Castle is understood to have been one of the late Queen’s favorite homes. It’s the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world and it’s another royal residence that’s got a well-kept secret. 

Back in 2011 UK presenter Fiona Bruce lifted up the carpet in an office located in a corner of Windsor Castle to reveal a hidden, wooden trapdoor. 

A flag flies at half mast over the Palace of Holyroodhouse

(Image credit: Photo by Lesley Martin-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

“As if by magic, just lift these and the medieval castle emerges,” she declared, before making her way down the stone steps which were reportedly built in the 13th century.

"If you’re a soldier in Windsor Castle under siege you need a way to get out. And this is the secret passage. It’s wide enough to accommodate a whole army of men. You can just imagine them rushing down the stairs, and it leads out onto the street. This is the clever bit - they’d be able to sneak up on the enemy and attack them from behind,” Fiona declared.

Whilst Windsor Castle might not be at risk of siege in recent decades, it might be reassuring for the Royal Family to know that there's a secret escape tunnel ready and waiting if they should ever need it.

Royal residence secrets of Kensington Palace

Whilst Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace were residences where Queen Elizabeth spent a huge amount of time, several of the Queen’s grandchildren were reportedly no strangers to a secret detail or too at their royal home. 

Opening up about Kensington Palace’s secrets on Channel 5’s documentary, William and Kate: Too Good To Be True?, royal expert Simon Vigar previously suggested that Princess Diana would sometimes sneak herself and her sons out of the palace to go and enjoy treats on Kensington High Street. 

the exterior of Kensington Palace

(Image credit: Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)

He claimed, "Just the chance of going to the record [store] or the burger joint on Kensington High Street, that was a highlight for [William and Harry]. They just wanted to do what normal people did. They have a secret door there out of the Palace where they would just slip out unnoticed."

According to The Sun, Finding Freedom biographers Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand claimed in the book that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also apparently made use of this secret Kensington Palace door in the early days of their romance.

A general view of a fountain at Kensington Palace

(Image credit: Photo by Kate Green/Getty Images)

“No front entrance for the pair. They were given directions for how to get into the building using a discreet door away from prying eyes — and familiar only to staff and delivery trucks bringing in produce and fresh fish from Billingsgate Market,” they wrote. "A glamorous start, it was not.”

Royal residence secrets of St James's Palace

It’s been suggested over the years that St James’s Palace, where Prince William and Kate Middleton formally announced their engagement, has one of the most bizarre royal residence secrets of all. Strange as it might seem, back in 2021 the Daily Mail’s Richard Eden alleged that Princess Eugenie’s husband Jack Brooksbank apparently claimed there’s a secret passage that supposedly leads from the palace to Dukes Bar. 

A general view of the Principal Proclamation, after the accession council as King Charles III is proclaimed King, at St James's Palace

(Image credit: Photo by David Levene - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

“There is one to Dukes Bar from St James’s Palace,” he reportedly told Richard at a party. “I haven’t used it yet, but I’d love to check it out.”

The bar at Dukes Hotel is believed to have been a popular choice with James Bond author Ian Fleming and they are known for serving delicious Dukes Martinis. Sadly, it’s not been confirmed whether this passageway exists but it’s amazing to think that the royals could potentially be enjoying a few cocktails in private thanks to a secret tunnel. 

Selina Maycock

Selina is a Senior Entertainment Writer with more than 15 years of experience in newspapers and magazines. She has covered all things Entertainment for GoodtoKnow, Woman&Home and My Imperfect Life. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand.