Windsor (dpa) – “It was her home” is a phrase that was often heard at the end of the funeral ceremonies for Queen Elizabeth II in Windsor.
Many people in the small town west of London are speaking of more personal connections to the Queen. “I used to see her driving her Range Rover here,” said 48-year-old Scott Baxter shortly after the Queen’s coffin had disappeared behind the castle walls.
But how will things continue with this “home”, this royal homeland, after Elizabeth’s death?
It was not until the end of August that it became known that Queen’s grandson Prince William and his wife Kate are moving to Windsor with their family and are also sending the children to school there. The Adelaide Cottage on the extensive castle grounds has been her new home since the beginning of September. On the day their great-grandmother died, George (9), Charlotte (7) and Louis (4) had their first day of school in Windsor.
What does the king intend to do with his possessions?
“There is speculation that the Prince and Princess of Wales could move from Adelaide Cottage to the main castle in due course,” royal expert Craig Prescott from Bangor University told the German Press Agency. “But there is still no concrete evidence of what the king intends to do with his possessions.”
According to the British newspaper “Guardian”, the approximately 100 employees of Clarence House, where the new king and his wife Camilla used to live, have already received the message that they could now lose their jobs because the head of the house is moving. But it is still unknown where.
However, it is expected that the king will reside in London’s prestigious Buckingham Palace in the immediate vicinity of Clarence House and will then spend more time there than his mother last did. And he could possibly spend most of his free time at his country estate, Highgrove, in the western English county of Gloucestershire.
“The king will probably keep Highgrove as his own retreat – next to Birkhall in Scotland,” says Prescott. “There are also reports that Balmoral will be open to the public more frequently.” In addition, King Consort Camilla has her own private residence, Ray Mill, in Wiltshire, which she apparently uses to meet her own family and friends. Balmoral Castle was the Queen’s Scottish country home, where she died on September 8th. Charles’ Birkhall estate is nearby.
It is unclear what role Windsor can then play for the royal couple in the coming years.
Windsor was a weekend seat for decades
In the year of her accession, 1952, the Queen made Windsor Castle, where she spent her childhood, her weekend home. She always preferred to stay there than in Buckingham Palace in London – and most recently since the beginning of the corona pandemic even permanently. Her controversial son Prince Andrew also lives on the castle grounds.
And even if Balmoral in Scotland was probably even closer to the Queen’s heart – because of her, Windsor has been an important center of the royal family and royal power in England for the past few decades. After a fire broke out there in 1992, the Queen spoke of an “annus horribilis”, a year of terror.
Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, Windsor Castle is said to be the largest permanently inhabited castle in the world. 40 monarchs have seen it come and go. The royal family, the House of Windsor, owes its name to the castle. “Home of royalty, 1000 years of royal history,” reads the home page. This story now gets a new chapter.
Place of pilgrimage for royal supporters?
After the Queen was buried alongside her husband Prince Philip, who died last year, in a side chapel of St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, the castle could possibly become a place of pilgrimage for royal supporters in particular. “Perhaps I wouldn’t talk about pilgrims because it has a religious connotation, but I assume that many people would like to visit the chapel where the queen is buried.” The castle and chapel will be open to visitors again from September 29th.
“King Charles III has said in general that he wants to slim down the monarchy . That’s why the question of residences definitely arises,” says Prescott. “What is the future of Sandringham, Balmoral, Clarence House and others? It may well be that residences outside of London are now being used less and less. Then Windsor would remain a center for the monarchy by default – as would London.”
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