Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen will be starting her Easter break earlier than planned this week, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Her Majesty, 93, will travel to Windsor Castle on Thursday 19 March and it is likely that she will stay there beyond the Easter period.
Windsor is reportedly one of the Queen's favourite residences and it holds a lot of happy memories for her. The monarch was left distraught when a fire broke out at the castle in 1992, causing serious damage to the historic palace. The Duke of Edinburgh played a key role in its rebuilding and served as chairman of the general restoration committee to bring the royal residence back to its former glory.
HELLO! looks at why Windsor is such a special place for the Queen.
Elizabeth and Margaret at Windsor Castle in 1941
Instead of being evacuated overseas during World War II, the then Princess Elizabeth, aged 13, and her younger sister Princess Margaret, stayed at Windsor Castle for their safety. The pair spent their pivotal years at the palace, growing up from teenagers to young women. The royal sisters would put on plays to entertain household staff and Elizabeth attended her first ball in July 1941. At the age of 16, she became Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, inspecting the guardsmen at the castle and hosting a reception.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding day in 2018
As well as celebrating the marriage of her youngest son Prince Edward to Sophie Rhys Jones, in Windsor in 1999, the Queen has also attended two of her grandchildren's weddings at St George's Chapel. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, as well as Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, tied the knot at the chapel in 2018.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex held their afternoon wedding reception in St George's Hall in the main part of the royal residence and this was also where they introduced their baby son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor to the world in May 2019. Before moving to Canada, the family lived at the nearby Frogmore Cottage.
Her Majesty was also a guest at Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston's wedding at St George's Chapel last year. Lady Gabriella is the daughter of the Queen's first cousin Prince Michael of Kent.
Pomp and ceremony
Order of the Garter ceremony
While Buckingham Palace might be the Queen's office and the location of some of the biggest royal events of the year, Windsor Castle also plays host to a number of significant engagements. The Order of the Garter ceremony takes place there every year, where royals who are Knights and Ladies of the Garter, process from the Windsor state apartments to the service at St George's Chapel. The Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge are among the royals who don the traditional Garter regalia, including blue velvet robes and black hats with white ostrich plumes.
Windsor Castle has played host to state visits, including the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, in 2014. The Queen also invited US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to the palace in 2018.
Royal Windsor Horse Show
The Queen at the Royal Windsor Horse Show
The Royal Windsor Horse Show - one of the Queen's favourite events – is staged annually in May in Home Park in the private grounds of the castle. Whether it will take place this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic is still to be answered, but Her Majesty usually brings members of her family along to the competition. The monarch, who has had a love of the hobby since childhood, is often pictured horseriding within the grounds of Windsor Castle.
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