The Queen's magnificent property portfolio: a closer look at her royal homes

Her Majesty has six primary residences

The Queen boasts an impressive billion-pound property portfolio spanning much of the UK. From her beloved Balmoral Castle in Scotland to London's iconic Buckingham Palace, the 96-year-old certainly has the pick of the crop when it comes to regal residences.

READ: How the Queen spends her summer at Balmoral with her great-grandchildren

We take a look at her six primary homes in all their unique glory.

Balmoral Castle

Cited as one of the Queen's favourite places on Earth, Balmoral now serves as the royal's primary Scottish residence. It is the Queen's private home and was handed down to her through generations of royals after Prince Albert originally bought the property for Queen Victoria in 1852.

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WATCH: Take a tour of the Queen's most lavish properties

Situated among stunning lochs and glens, the Queen jets off to Balmoral for her annual summer break. She typically retreats to her country bolthole from mid-July until early October.

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When the main castle is open to tourists, Her Majesty relocates to a seven-bedroom stone house on her estate, Craigowan Lodge.


The Queen personally owns Balmoral Castle

During her summer stay, various members of the royal family take it in turns to pay Her Majesty a visit. Indeed, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have regularly dropped in for short summer breaks with their young children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.


Her Scottish residence is a firm favourite among the royal family

The expansive Scottish estate holds a special place in the Queen's heart thanks to its deeper meaning. She and her late husband Prince Philip spent part of their honeymoon at Birkhall hunting lodge in 1947.

Her granddaughter Princess Eugenie previously explained: "It's the most beautiful place on earth. I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands."

Sandringham Estate

The Queen's magnificent Jacobean property has a starring role during the colder months. The royal family traditionally spend Christmas time at the beloved Norfolk estate, with Her Majesty opting to stay on until early February.


Sandringham comes alive during the festive period

The Queen uses her extended time to mark the anniversary of her accession to the throne and her father King George VI's death.

The 19th-century main residence, Sandringham House, was bought by Queen Victoria in 1862 for the Prince of Wales. The property features an array of opulent rooms decked out with grand furniture and fine art.


The Queen delivering her speech

Of particular significance is the Queen's office which played host to the first ever Christmas broadcast in 1952.

Windsor Castle

Since the passing of her beloved husband Prince Philip, the Queen spends most of her time at Windsor Castle. Unlike Balmoral and Sandringham, the 900-year-old Berkshire property is part of the Crown Estate and does not personally belong to Her Majesty.


Prince William and Kate are reportedly moving onto the Windsor Estate 

Aside from royal weddings, christenings and birthday parties, the splendid Berkshire estate welcomes royal guests over the Easter period. In keeping with tradition, the Queen typically attends the Maundy Thursday church service at St George's Chapel.

Windsor will forever rank among the Queen’s favourite residences thanks to the memories she made there as a child. 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 Queen spends most of her time at Windsor

The pair spent their pivotal years at the palace, growing up from teenagers to young women.

Buckingham Palace

Despite its iconic status, the Queen rarely resides at London's Buckingham Palace. Belonging to the Crown Estate, the royal property has been the official home of the monarchy since 1837.

Although the home boasts 775 rooms, a chapel, a post office, a movie theatre and an indoor swimming pool, the Queen didn't actually want to live there when she first moved in.


The London palace was built in 1703

As reported by royal biographer Penny Junor in her book The Firm, the Queen wanted to remain living at Clarence House after her father's death, but it was Sir Winston Churchill who instigated the move to Buckingham Palace.

During her time at the London palace, the Queen reportedly only occupies six of the 775 rooms. According to dresser Angela Kelly, Her Majesty "is a very modest lady and only occupies a few rooms". 


Her Majesty attending a weekly meeting with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson

She goes on to list these: "Her bedroom; her private sitting room; her dressing room and bathroom; the Audience room and the Empire room."

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Besides Balmoral, the Queen boasts a second Scottish residence in the form of the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Each year, the monarch returns to the Edinburgh property for one week to mark Holyrood Week, also known as Royal Week.


Holyrood Palace is a well-preserved example of Gothic architecture

Over the years, the 12th-century abbey has played host to a plethora of spectacular royal events. From Zara and Mike Tindall's fairytale wedding to official meetings with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Holyroodhouse has witnessed it all.


Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall tied the knot in 2011

Hillsborough Castle

Further afield in Northern Ireland, the Queen owns the lesser-known residency of Hillsborough Castle in Lisburn. The property is her official Northern Irish residence, and prior to the pandemic, would host the royal family two or three times a year.


The property features 100 acres of stunning gardens

Owing to COVID-19-induced travel disruptions and Her Majesty's ongoing mobility issues, however, the monarch hasn't stepped foot in her Irish residence in over six years.


The house and gardens have been restored to their former glory

In 2014, Historic Royal Palaces took over the running of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens and started a five-year refurbishment that is believed to have cost an eye-watering £24 million.

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