While the Queen primarily lives at Buckingham Palace, she also boasts lavish residences around the UK – and members of the public can even get the opportunity to visit them at certain times throughout the year. From Balmoral Castle to the Sandringham Estate, get to know more about the monarch's royal residences, and how you can take a peek inside…
WATCH: A look inside the royal residences
Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence of the UK's sovereigns since 1837, when Queen Victoria chose to renovate the unused building and make it her home. The Queen spends much of her time at the palace, which has 775 rooms including 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. Phew! The Palace is currently undergoing extensive renovations to replace electrics and pipework at the estimated cost of £369million.
GALLERY: Inside the Queen's home at Buckingham Palace
How to visit Buckingham Palace:
Selected parts of Buckingham Palace open to the public during the summer months and for a limited number of tours in December, January and at Easter. In 2020, The Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace will take place from 25 July until 4 October. Get more information at rct.uk/visit/the-state-rooms-buckingham-palace.
The Queen usually spends the weekends at Windsor Castle, but it also serves as an official royal residence where she undertakes some formal duties. Her Majesty takes up residence in the castle for a month over Easter each year, when she is known to host occasional 'dine and sleep' events for guests, where previous guests have included Daniel Craig and British astronaut Tim Peake. Royals also stay at the castle for a week in June, to coincide with the Order of the Garter and Royal Ascot.
How to visit Windsor Castle:
Windsor Castle is open to visitors throughout the year, with highlights including a tour of the state apartments, the semi-state rooms, and the opportunity to go inside St George's Chapel, which played host to the weddings of Prince Harry and Meghan, and Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in 2018. Tickets are available to book at rct.uk/visit/windsor-castle.
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Unlike other royal palaces which belong to the Crown, Sandringham House is owned privately by the royal family. It was bought in 1862 as a country residence for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, and was inherited by the Queen upon the death of her father in 1952. The Duke of Edinburgh took overall responsibility for the estate's management, and the royal family typically celebrate Christmas at Sandringham each year. Her Majesty stays in the historic house until early February, after marking the anniversary of her father's death privately.
How to visit the Sandringham Estate:
Sandringham House and Gardens are open daily from 3 April to 14 October 2020, with tickets offering visitors the opportunity to learn more about the history of the house, explore the stunning grounds and browse the collection of royal cars in the Exhibition and Transport Museum. Find out more at sandringhamestate.co.uk.
Said to be the Queen's favourite place in the world, Balmoral Castle is the second private residence owned by the royal family, and is where the monarch spends her summer holidays. Prince Philip takes an active role in managing the estate, and created a large vegetable garden, a flowered paved walk along the terrace on the north side of the Castle, and started a plantation of oak along a bank south of the cricket pitch.
MORE: See inside the Queen's summer home at Balmoral Castle
How to visit Balmoral Castle:
Balmoral is open to the public between April and July each year, and visitors can even book to go on safari through the historic estate. Get more details at balmoralcastle.com.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the Monarchy in Scotland, and the monarch takes up residence there for a week every year from the end of June to the beginning of July when she hosts the Holyrood Week of engagements.
How to visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse:
The Palace is open all year round, and visitors can explore 14 historic State Apartments, the 12th-century Holyrood Abbey and the Queen's Gallery, which hosts a programme of changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection. Get more details at rct.uk/visit/palace-of-holyroodhouse.
This 18th-century country house serves as the official residence for the Queen and other members of the royal family during their visits to Northern Ireland, and is located in the village of Hillsborough in north-west County Down. Set upon 100 acres of gardens, the Georgian house has a grand Throne Room, State Drawing Room and State Rooms where the royal family stay.
How to visit Hillsborough Castle:
Hillsborough Castle is open daily, with 45-minute guiding tours sharing a look inside the State Rooms including the State Dining Room, Red Room and Stair Hall, as well as access to the 100 acres of gardens.
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