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St. James's Palace is one of the most senior royal palaces in the whole of the UK - and also, home to many members of the royal family.
- Located in central London, St. James’s Palace is still a busy working palace for the royal family.
- Many royals use it as their London base, including Princess Anne, who normally lives at Gatcombe Park.
- This follows the royal news that the first royal with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been revealed.
A brief history of St. James’s Palace – and what it does today
The central London palace, located in the city of Westminster, was built by the Henry VIII in 1531 – making it even older than the Queen’s official capital residence, Buckingham Palace. And although it’s considered to be one of the most important palaces now, it only became regularly used by the monarchy in 1837, after Queen Victoria began to live there.
Now, the palace is a royal residence and functional office space. And it’s one of the most important royal palaces, with Royal.uk noting that the offices of the Royal Collection Trust, the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, the Gentlemen at Arms, the Yeomen of the Guard and the Queen’s Watermen held there.
Important meetings are also held there. The Accession Council will meet there upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II, as they do with the death of every monarch. Many royal christenings are also held there, in the Chapel Royal.
What is it like inside St. James’s Palace?
It’s certainly an impressive building – spanning many square feet, most of it is spread over four storeys. Not bad for the London property market!
There are a few photographs inside the palace too, giving us a glimpse at the official rooms. In the below photos of Prince William, the palace appears very regally decorated (as you might expect), with plush red furniture and carpets, gold-gilded decor, and cream walls with white fireplaces.
Given that St James’s is also a private home, there are certain areas that are kept private for the royal family. But official meetings are often held in the lower floors.
St James’s is also home to the Chapel Royal, where numerous royal christenings have taken place over the years. Most recently of course, Prince Louis, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s youngest son, was christened there.
The Chapel Royal, located in the main block of the palace, has also played host to the christening of Prince George, and the recent baptism of Meghan Markle, just weeks before she married Prince Harry.
Who lives at St. James’s Palace?
The palace is the permanent home, and the London residence, of many senior members of the royal family.
Up until autumn 2017, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie shared an apartment in the palace. But don’t be deceived by the use of the word ‘apartment’ – their former home certainly wasn’t the size of an ordinary flat. Most flats in St. James’s Palace span four floors, and have multiple bedrooms – in fact, it’s thought that Beatrice and Eugenie’s had four.
Beatrice and Eugenie shared their home for some years, but back in 2018, Princess Eugenie left their abode in order to move in to Kensington Palace with her husband, Jack Brooksbank. The pair now live in Ivy Cottage – just minutes from Eugenie’s cousin Prince William, and his family.
One senior royal who does still live at the palace is Princess Anne, the Queen’s daughter. The Princess Royal uses the palace as her official London residence, when she is in around the city for engagments. And she’s certainly making use of it – the Princess consistently racks up the most royal duties of all, completing a whopping 540 engagements in 2017 alone. Prince Charles, in comparison, completed 374. When she isn’t in London, Anne lives at Gatcombe Park, alongside her daughter Zara Tindall, and her husband Mike.
But recently, the palace has seen an influx of royal family members moving in to the palace, due to the extensive refurbishment currently taking place on some private living quarters at Buckingham Palace.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and her husband Prince Edward, have had to move themselves to St. James’s Palace while the refurbishments are done on their official London home, just a few minutes away.
In the past, St James’s Palace has also been home to Princes William and Harry, who lived with their father Charles in York House – which is contained within the palace walls.
Can you visit St. James’s Palace?
Sadly, visits to St. James’s Palace are not open to the public. However, if you fancy catching a glimpse of the royal abode, you can easily walk past the palace on the streets of London and see it from the outside.
Plus, if you do want to pay a visit to a royal residence, Clarence House and Buckingham Palace – just metres from St. James’s Palace, regularly open to the public for short periods of time.