Windsor Castle: take a look at the historic building the Queen and Prince Philip called home

The Queen and Prince Philip spent many a happy time here

Prince Philip and the queen at windsor castle
(Image credit: Leon Neal-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Queen and Prince Philip spent much of the past year together at their Windsor Castle home before Philip passed away peacefully this morning. 

Queen and Prince Philip

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Windsor Castle is one of four homes the Queen and Prince Philip used (the others being Sandringham House in Norfolk, Balmoral in Scotland, and of course, Buckingham Palace). The castle is the oldest and largest in the world, covering 26 acres of land.

Windsor is arguably where the monarch spends most of her time, using it as her base at the weekend and as a home near London. She also conducts official duties there too, often hosting guests in the many reception rooms.

But this and last year, she spent more time at the Berkshire castle than ever, isolating there during the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, after being pulled out of royal duties. It was also the place where the Queen and Prince Philip celebrated his 99th birthday. 

And Windsor is also where the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh chose to spend their last Christmas together 'quietly' alone before his passing this morning.

Windsor Castle

So what is the royal home where the Queen and Prince Philip spent most of the past year at like inside? How many rooms does it have, and why does the Queen like it so much?

When was Windsor Castle built?

Windsor Castle has been in the hands of successive monarchs for over 1,000 years, and lived in continuously throughout that time.

But it was William the Conquerer who first took up residence there, choosing the site for his castle because it sat high up above the River Thames and next to a Saxon hunting ground.

The castle was later extended by Edward III, and it was even used as the headquarters for various Parliamentarian commanders in 1642, during the Civil War.

Windsor Castle

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in the 1840s, were said to love Windsor, and spent much of their time. Before them, the castle was simply a private home, but during Victoria's reign, they opened up the State Apartments for public visits.

Windsor is also where the current Queen and her sister, Princess Margaret, were sent during the Second World War as children, whilst their parents remained in London.

Windsor Castle is also the site where ten former monarchs are buried, given the vast expansive grounds.

Who lives at Windsor Castle now?

Currently, the Queen lives at Windsor Castle, but following Prince Philips's death, it's unsure whether the Queen will remain there in coming weeks. For the rest of the year she usually splits her time between the castle, Buckingham Palace, Balmoral and Sandringham.

It's also thought that multiple members of staff live with the royal couple in the castle.

Windsor Castle inside: what is it like in the Queen's home?

The Royal Berkshire residence is made up of private rooms for the Queen, Prince Philip, and their family's use, but it also includes public rooms where she conducts royal duties.

And due to the public use of these rooms, glimpses inside the castle are possible through various videos and pictures. On the royal.uk website, you can also take a virtual tour of three rooms - the Waterloo Chamber, Drawing Room, and State Banquet Hall, where many royal events have been held - find them here.

The rooms are elaborately decorated, in deep reds, wood and golds.

The Queen has also recently addressed the nation twice - once on VE Day - in light of the coronavirus pandemic, straight from Windsor Castle, giving us a look into the lavish home.

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A video on the Royal Family Youtube channel also shared a brilliantly detailed look inside the home, with a look at the incredibly grand State Apartments and St. George's Chapel - where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot.

 

Visit Windsor Castle - is it open to the public?

The castle and all other royal residences were closed at the beginning of 2020, due to the coronavirus crisis.

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The RCT told royal fans that visitors will be able to visit the picturesque East Terrace Garden's for the first time once the castle opens once again. Normally, the garden is for the family's private use only.

In a normal year, amongst the tour of the State Apartments and drawing rooms, visitors will also get a chance to see inside St. George's Chapel, which is still a functioning place of worship to this day. For that reason, the chapel is closed to visitors on Sunday, which is when services take place. It is where famous monarchs including Henry VIII are buried, as well as Charles I.

Who owns Windsor Castle?

Windsor Castle is owned by the Crown Estate, meaning its ownership will pass from monarch to monarch.

This means that the current Queen Elizabeth II doesn't technically own the residence herself.

What are Windsor Castle grounds like?

The immediate gardens of Windsor Castle are perhaps not as extensive as you might think - but it's not too much of an issue, considering the vast private and public parkland the residence is surrounded by.

Immediately next to the castle is Home Park, privately owned by the royal family. Home Park is made up of extensive green space, as well as two working farms. It's also where the private school, St. George's, is located, as well as where some private royal residences are - including Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's UK home - Frogmore Cottage.

Home Park also houses the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore, which is the final resting place of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It is speculated that this is where Prince Philip will also be buried.

Windsor Great Park

The famous, 2-mile Long Walk - which Meghan Markle travelled up on her wedding day - is also set within the lush grounds of the castle. The royal family famously travel in a procession to Royal Ascot via this route every year.

Windsor Castle

Adjoining the Home Park is Windsor Great Park - which encompasses 5,000 acres of land. These grounds are free for the public to explore, and are full of ancient woodland and award-winning gardens. Prince Philip was actually the Ranger of Windsor Great Park!

How much is Windsor Castle worth?

As a castle smack bang in one of the most expensive areas in the UK, Windsor is probably just as eye-wateringly expensive as you may think.

Although it'll likely never be up for sale, a 2017 report states that Windsor Castle is worth around £236 million.

Amy Hunt
Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is Life Channel Editor at womanandhome.com, having been with the brand since 2015. She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on either women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly, Goodto.com, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on womanandhome.com. She is passionate about everything from books, to homes, to food and the latest news on the royal family. When she isn't editing or updating articles on cleaning, homewares, the newest home gadgets, or the latest books releases for the website, she's busy burying her nose in a gripping thriller, practising yoga, or buying new homeware of her own.