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King Charles and Windsor Castle© Getty

King Charles makes big change at Windsor home - and neighbours are not happy

The monarch inherited the royal residence from Queen Elizabeth II

Sharnaz Shahid
Deputy Online Editor
May 21, 2024
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Residents who live near Windsor Castle have been left dismayed after it was announced the royal residence will end its 200-year tradition of letting them enter for free. 

This move has been criticised by locals who claim they "deserve something back for welcoming so many tourists into their town". 

A general view of people on The Long Walk and Windsor Castle, with Queen Elizabeth II in residence, on May 08, 2020 in Windsor, United Kingdom.© Chris Jackson
A general view of people on The Long Walk and Windsor Castle

The Royal Collection Trust is halting the long-established perk, which offers free entry to local people who have a Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Advantage Card, from 1 June. 

Cardholders will now have to pay for a ticket to the world's oldest and largest inhabited castle, but will receive a 50% discount, costing £15 in advance or £16.50 on the day, with free entry for one child up to the age of 17. 

King Charles uses the 1,000-year-old fortress in Berkshire as one of his official residences and it is a working palace, often staging investitures and state visits, but remains open to the public throughout the year. 

King Charles © Getty
King Charles now spends more time in Windsor

When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, she introduced tickets for visitors which could be obtained from the Lord Chamberlain's Office or from select London booksellers. 

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Julian Tisi said locals happily welcomed millions of tourists a year and, in return, were able to visit the famous castle when they chose. 

Mr Tisi, who is calling for people to support a petition against the change, said: "For many of us who live in Windsor, visiting the castle for free is a great pleasure. Some locals pop in to use the excellent cafe and who hasn't taken visiting relatives for a day trip?" 

He added: "Windsor, and specifically the castle, is visited by millions of people from around the world. During the season, residents gladly welcome tourists to their shops and restaurants, they drive them around in taxis and are happy to give directions in the street. 

"In return, we get to live and work near one of the most iconic buildings in the world – and visit when we choose." 

Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead councillor Amy Tisi said she was shocked the free entry offer was being withdrawn without consultation. "We consider those in the 'big house on the hill' to be our neighbours and want to work with them on this to ensure no resident is priced out of visiting the castle," she said.

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle leave their wedding ceremony at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle© WPA Pool
St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle has played host to many royal weddings

"Leader of the council Simon Werner and I have written to the Royal Collection to ask for an urgent meeting and to ask them to change their mind." 

A Royal Collection Trust spokesperson said: "We regularly review our pricing against other organisations in the sector and based on this, updated our current Advantage Card offer to be in line with other businesses in the borough. 

"We are continuing to explore ways to make the Castle as accessible as possible to visitors from the local area, with current initiatives including free visits for community organisations working with under-represented groups, and a travel subsidy and access scheme for schools working with children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds." 

Interior shot of St George's Hall© Mike Forster/Daily Mail/Shutterstock
Inside St George's Hall at Windsor Castle

Income generated from admissions to the castle contributes directly to the Royal Collection Trust charity which cares for the Royal Collection and works to promote access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational programmes. 

Advance adult tickets to Windsor Castle cost £30 per person, while those aged 18-24 can buy advance tickets for £19.50. Child (5-17) and disabled tickets are priced at £15 and access companion tickets and under fives are free. 

Which royals live on the Windsor estate?

King Charles now spends more time at Windsor Castle, which allows him to see some of his grandchildren, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, even more often. Royal author Robert Hardman, who wrote The Making of a King: King Charles III and the Modern Monarchy, revealed the many people haven't noticed that the monarch spends more time at Windsor. 

The incredible 13-acre grounds combine a fortification, a palace, and a small town. Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world as well as the longest-occupied palace in Europe, and remains a functioning royal residence.

Pink house in grounds© Shutterstock
Adelaide Cottage is nestled in the heart of the 655-acre Windsor estate

Windsor Castle is of course incredibly close to the Prince and Princess of Wales' primary residence, Adelaide Cottage.

Prince Andrew has lived at the 30-room Royal Lodge at Windsor Great Park since 2004. The residence was previously the Queen Mother’s Windsor home until her death in 2002, and it has undergone significant renovation work since Andrew has lived there. 

While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex live in Montecito, California with their children Archie and Lilibet, they used to live at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor. The property is located within Windsor's Home Park and close to their wedding reception venue, Frogmore House.

Why Windsor Castle is so special to the royal family

The Berkshire abode has played host to royal weddings in recent years, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials, and Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's big day.


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