The scandalous secret history of the Cambridge's new family home, Adelaide Cottage

Adelaide Cottage has a rich and vibrant history, particularly when it comes to the Queen's late sister, Princess Margaret

An aerial Panoramic view of the Royal Castle and town of Windsor
(Image credit: David Goddard via Getty)

Prince William and Kate Middleton are upping sticks and moving the whole family to Adelaide Cottage, Berkshire, closer to the Queen. But have you heard about the fascinating - and rather scandalous - history of their new abode? 


Prince William and Kate Middleton confirmed that they are moving to Adelaide Cottage this week, after months of speculation.

They've officially announced their upcoming move to Adelaide Cottage on the grounds of Windsor Great Park, which is just a 15 minute drive from Prince George and Princess Charlotte's new school, Lambrook School in Berkshire.

The property boasts four bedrooms and an idyllic countryside setting, originally built by Sir Jeffry Wyatville in 1831 and used as a summer guest house.

“Initially, Adelaide Cottage had a similar status to Frogmore House. Important visitors to Windsor in the 1830 regularly describe visits to first one then the other royal ‘summer retreat'," Jane Roberts wrote in her 1997 book, Royal Landscape: The Gardens and Parks of Windsor. 

In 1941, the house became a 'grace and favor' property, meaning the Royal Family would lend it out to friends and family as and when they needed to. 

Perhaps the most scandalous of these guests was Princess Margaret’s lover Peter Townsend, who lived in the cottage with his first wife Rosemary, so he could be on hand for the king in his role as equerry. 

Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) and Group Captain Peter Townsend (1914 - 1995), equerry to King George VI, leaving Windsor Castle, 12th April 1952

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Princess Margaret was just 13 when she was introduced to Peter Townsend. In his memoir, Time and Chance, Peter recalled that she was "as unremarkable as one would expect of a 14-year-old girl".  According to reporting from Town and Country, Margaret and Peter's romance began eight years later, when 22-year-old Margaret fell in love with Peter after the death of her father in 1952.

While it's unclear exactly when their affair began, it was reportedly exposed in the 1950s, after an intimate moment where Margaret can be seen picking fluff off her lover's jacket. The Guardian specifies this as the subtle gesture that gave away their romantic relationship in Princess Margaret's obituary (opens in new tab).

Peter himself expressed some reservations about living in the "small" house, though grateful for the opportunity. In his memoir, Time and Chance, he revealed, “In the spring of 1945, with our second child on the way, the King proposed that we should move our abode to a small ‘grace and favor’ house, Adelaide Cottage, in the home park of Windsor Castle.

“It was a generous gesture for which I felt deeply grateful, despite the limited amenities of the House.”

Lauren is the former Deputy Digital Editor at woman&home and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren worked on the woman&home brand for four years before going freelance. Before woman&home Lauren worked across a variety of women's lifestyle titles, including GoodTo, Woman's Own, and Woman magazine.