Home & Garden: A Guide to the Royal Real Estate Reshuffle (So Far)

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In the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death on September 8 and ahead of her funeral on Monday, there has been an outpouring of grief around the world. Less visibly, it also set in motion a whole reshuffle of the royal family’s residences as each member steps up to their new roles. Buckingham Palace has been the Queen’s official London residence, and Balmoral Castle, the Queen’s holiday home where she passed away, has been a set fixture in the public eye. However, that’s just scratching the surface on the royal family’s seriously impressive property portfolio. From palatial private estates dating back to the Tudor dynasty to charming countryside cottages, these are the less-than-humble abodes that the royal family has called home.

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Buckingham Palace

London, EnglandWho’s Moving In: King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla (Potentially)

Buckingham Palace © Getty Images Buckingham Palace

Located in the heart of the capital, Buckingham Palace is the crown jewel of the royal properties—and the most visited. Hundreds of visitors flock daily to be in the same vicinity where royalty resides. The palace’s private quarters have been Queen Elizabeth II’s formal residence since 1936 when her father took the throne and is speculated to be the new home of King Charles III and his Queen Consort. The neoclassical-style structure has been known as the official London residence of the United Kingdom’s monarchs since 1837, with Queen Victoria as the first monarch to settle in. Prince Andrew, the Queen’s third born, also splits his time between the palace and the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park (see below). Since Queen Elizabeth’s death, King Charles will now inherit Buckingham Palace.

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Balmoral Castle

Aberdeenshire, ScotlandWho Gets It: King Charles III

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Almost a second home to Queen Elizabeth II, Balmoral Castle was Her Majesty’s beloved summer retreat and, fittingly, the place where she passed away. The majestic building, typical of the Scottish Baronial period, was originally purchased by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1852—and has since remained a summer home for the royal family. The private residence, which sits on 50,000 acres with 150 total buildings, hosts the annual Ghillies’ Ball, a royal summer party that dates back to when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert would throw a summer party for their staff. Inside the castle, it’s a tartan and chintz dreamland.

Kensington Palace

London, England Who’s Moving In: TBDWho’s There Now: The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, the Prince and Princess of Kent, Princess Eugenie

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The majestic estate, estimated to be worth $740 million, has been a royal residence for 300 years, and since 2017, home to the Cambridges, Prince William and Kate Middleton, with their three children in apartment 1A (formerly occupied by Princess Margaret). The family “apartment”—which underwent a $1.6 million renovation prior to the couple’s 2013 move and an additional $4.9 million revamp the following year, according to Vogue—features five reception rooms, three main bedrooms, a night and day nursery, and staff quarters. The family has recently relocated to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor (see below).

According to the royal family’s official website, other residents of Kensington Palace include: the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent (living in the palace’s Wren House), the Prince and Princess of Kent (apartment 10), and Princess Eugenie, William and Harry’s cousin, who moved into the palace’s Nottingham Cottage (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first home) with her husband this year.

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Adelaide Cottage

Berkshire, EnglandWho’s Moving In: No one (that we know of)

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Who’s There Now: Prince William and Kate Middleton

Located on the east side of Windsor Castle grounds, Adelaide Cottage is a 10-minute walk away from Windsor Castle. This royal residence was built in 1831 by architect Jeffry Wyatville and commissioned by King William IV for his wife Queen Adelaide. Queen Victoria reportedly often visited this peaceful cottage, which apparently was once called Adelaide Lodge.

Earlier this year, sources say, Queen Elizabeth II made Windsor Castle her official residence, prompting the Cambridges to follow several months ago to support her in the final years of her reign. The family made the move just weeks before the Queen’s death. Though the word cottage can be misleading (the cottage has gilded dolphins and rope decoration on the ceiling of the master bedroom, which is said to have been recycled from an 19th-century royal yacht), Adelaide Cottage is a major downgrade from Kensington Palace, with a modest four bedrooms.

Windsor Castle

Berkshire, England

Who Gets It:

King Charles III Who’s Moving In: Likely Prince William and Kate Middleton

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Windsor Castle, often referred to as “the Big House,” is the oldest inhabited castle in the world, having been part of Britain’s royal heritage for nearly a thousand years. The castle was commissioned by William the Conqueror around 1070 and took 16 years to complete. While the Queen formally moved here earlier this year, she spent many of her private weekends at Windsor Castle throughout her reign and took up official residence for a month in the spring for Easter Court, as well as a week each June for the Royal Ascot and the service of the Order of the Garter. It’s likely that the King will do the same.

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With the Queen’s passing, King Charles has inherited Windsor Castle from his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Sunday Times reported that William and Kate may ultimately occupy the castle, taking on new roles with their change in status. However, that move may be delayed for a while as they just moved to Adelaide Cottage.

Frogmore Cottage

Windsor, England Who’s Moving In: No one (that we know of)

Camilla, Queen Consort, honored Queen Elizabeth by wearing a brooch gifted to her by the late monarch

  Camilla, Queen Consort, honored Queen Elizabeth by wearing a brooch gifted to her by the late monarch Camilla, 75, attended a Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen wearing a diamond thistle brooch. The thistle is Scotland's national flower.Queen Elizabeth died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Thursday, Buckingham Palace announced. She was 96.

Who’s There Now: It remains Prince Harry and Meghan’s U.K. home

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Frogmore Cottage (not to be confused with Frogmore House, which shares the same grounds half a mile away from Windsor Castle) was originally constructed between 1680 and 1684 and was the home of Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent. The Grade II listed royal retreat later became a retreat for Queen Charlotte and her daughters at the beginning of the 19th century—and more recently, was Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s second home together. They used a controversial $3.2 million to renovate the property, before paying it back in full in early 2020 when they moved to California. In 2020, Princess Eugenie and her husband took up residence at the cottage with their son until May 2022. Today, the 10-bedroom house remains Prince Harry and Meghan’s United Kingdom family home. With two orangeries, a vegetable garden, a yoga studio—and tapping interiors mastermind Vicky Charles for the design—this “cottage” is anything but humble.

Clarence House

London, EnglandWho’s Moving In: No one (that we know of)

Who’s There Now: King Charles III and Queen Camilla

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Clarence House, which stands beside St. James’s Palace and is walking distance to Buckingham Palace, has been home to King Charles III and Camilla the Queen Consort for almost 20 years. The pair moved in during 2003 and will continue to call it home until renovations at Buckingham Palace are completed. Built in 1825–27, the townhouse was the home of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip after their marriage in 1947. It was also the London home of the Queen Mother from 1953 to 2002. Prince William and Prince Harry also lived here until moving into their own private residences at Kensington Palace in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Sandringham House

Norfolk, EnglandWho Gets It: King Charles III

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Sandringham House, a Georgian mansion, was constructed in 1771 by the owners, the Hoste Henleys. The Grade II mansion was passed down through several generations of owners before King Edward VII bought it for his future wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, and built what is now the Sandringham House in a style described by Pevsner as “frenetic Jacobean.” Following King Edward VII’s death, the estate passed to his son, George V, who broadcast the first royal Christmas message, a holiday staple in Britain, from the house. He eventually died at the house in 1936, passing it on to Edward VIII, who also died there in 1952. Queen Elizabeth II then owned the estate, where it became best known as a setting for the royal family’s annual Christmas celebration. In 2017, King Charles III took over management of the estate. The late Prince Philip also chose to spend the majority of his time at Wood Farm on the estate following his retirement in 2017, while Prince William and Princess Kate also have a home, Anmer Hall, on the estate.

Highgrove House

Groucestershire, EnglandWho’s there now? Prince Charles, on occasion Who Gets It: Prince William

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The place where King Charles will spend his first day in private reflection since his mother’s death, this Georgian neoclassical house has been a retreat for the king since he first bought it in 1980. He and his then-wife Princess Diana renovated the nine-bedroom mansion, which dates back to the 1780s, and transformed the gardens into an environmentally friendly wonderland of rare trees and plants. The house technically belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall, which means that Prince William, who is the new Duke of Cornwall, is now his father’s landlord and could ask his father for an estimated $800,000 a year in rent.

St. James’s Palace

London, EnglandWho’s Moving In: No one (that we know of)

Who’s There Now: Princess Anne and Princess Alexandra will continue to use it as their London base.

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Built by Henry VIII between 1531 and 1536, St. James’s Palace had been a residence of kings and queens for over 300 years—until the reign of Queen Victoria. Many family occasions have been held at this historic palace, including the marriages of George III and Queen Charlotte; Victoria and Albert; and George V and Queen Mary; the christening of Prince George in 2013; and more recently, the setting where King Charles III was proclaimed as monarch on September 10. Just around the corner from Buckingham Palace, the palace is used by many royals as their London base, including Princess Anne, who also lives at Gatcombe Park, and Princess Alexandra.

Camilla, Queen Consort, honored Queen Elizabeth by wearing a brooch gifted to her by the late monarch .
Camilla, 75, attended a Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen wearing a diamond thistle brooch. The thistle is Scotland's national flower.Queen Elizabeth died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Thursday, Buckingham Palace announced. She was 96.

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