Queen Elizabeth II has lived her life beneath the high ceilings of palaces and castles surrounded by lush gardens.
The Royal Family have numerous grand homes across the four corners of mainland Britain some in the heart of London, others surrounded by thousands of acres of private countryside.
The array of different residences has allowed the queen to holiday at home through a set routine, though it has been disrupted by COVID-19.
For most of her reign, Buckingham Palace, in London, was her week day residence, with Windsor Castles for weekends and Easter.
She spends August and part of September at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, and ordinarily goes to Sandringham in Norfolk for Christmas, though not this last year when she stayed in Windsor.
Buckingham Palace has hosted leaders from all over the world as well as royalty from overseas.
The royals are, outside of the pandemic, photographed there every year at Trooping the Colour, the queen’s official birthday parade.
The public landmark draws crowds of tourists each year, including many Americans, particularly for the changing of the guard, performed each day by soldiers in red coats and bearskin hats.
The iconic palace was bombed by the Nazis during World War II prompting the queen Mother to utter the famous assessment: “I am glad we have been bombed. Now we can look the East End [of London] in the eye.”
However, the building survived and remains the focal point of the royal family, though the queen has been at Windsor Castle through the pandemic.
It is where the great and good of British society traditionally go to be knighted, though again coronavirus has changed that with an investiture ceremony last year taking place at Windsor Castle.
Famously, when the queen is in residence the Royal Standard flies at the palace though there was controversy surrounding the protocol after the death of Princess Diana .
The public and media were calling for the royals, who were in Balmoral for their August holiday at the time, to fly the Royal Standard at half mast in Diana’s honor.
A solution was found when the Union Flag, instead of the Royal Standard, was flown at half mast.
Home to Prince Charles and Princess Diana after their 1981 wedding, Kensington Palace holds an important place in royal history.
When the princess died in 1997 it was the gates of Kensington Palace that were swamped with floral tributes laid by shocked Brits.
Known as KP among royal correspondents, the 17th century building houses apartments where the royal family live but also their private office and communications team.
The princes and their wives shared an office at Kensington Palace until tensions ran so high that Harry and Meghan split off shortly before their royal exit.
Alongside the grand palace and orangery is the Sunken Garden where this summer a statue to Princess Diana will be unveiled to mark what would have been her 60th birthday.
In 2017, the garden, which was adored by the princess, was turned white in her honour on the 20th anniversary of her death.
The queen has used Windsor Castle as her residence on weekends and during Easter throughout her reign as it is outside London, 20 miles to the west of Buckingham Palace.
The Royal Collection Trust describes the landmark as “the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world” and the family home of British monarchs for almost 1,000 years.
The trust’s website added: “Windsor Castle is also home to St George’s Chapel, the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter—the oldest order of chivalry in the world, founded by Edward III in 1348. Today, the Order consists of The Queen, The Prince of Wales and 24 Knight Companions.”
The chapel was also the scene of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ‘s May 2018 wedding and Prince Philip’s funeral.
The Duke of Edinburgh spent his final days there alongside Elizabeth, his wife of 73 years, after the couple chose it as the place to self isolate during coronavirus.
The move was not the first time the monarch has taken refuge at the castle during a time of crisis as she was evacuated from London to Windsor as a child during World War Two while she was still Princess Elizabeth.
The castle itself was hit by a fire in 1992, which destroyed 115 rooms, including nine state rooms.
Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, count Highgrove House, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, as their main country residence.
However, it is more than just a home as the prince uses the expansive grounds for conservation, growing rare trees and plants that might otherwise die out.
The website of his Duchy of Cornwall estate reads: “Rare trees and plants are grown for future generations to enjoy, and heritage seeds are planted to ensure these varieties continue to flourish.
“This ethically and environmentally conscious approach is carried through to the management of the house, where energy-saving bulbs and solar lights are used where appropriate, and all kitchen waste goes through the composting system.
“Biomass boilers and ground & air source heat pumps provide heating and hot water.”
However, bought by Charles in 1980, it also holds a controversial place in royal history as the staging post for some of his discreet liaisons with Camilla while he was still married to Princess Diana.
She told biographer Andrew Morton: “He said he wanted to be in the Duchy [of Cornwall] vicinity but its only 11 miles from her house.
“He chose the house and I came along afterwards. First went there after he bought it. He had painted all the walls white.
“He wanted me to do it up even though we were not engaged. I thought it was very improper but he liked my taste.”
The queen holidays in Scotland during August and part of September every year, enjoying the freedom and privacy of 50,000 acres of countryside.
The castle is privately owned by Elizabeth, unlike Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace which are all owned by the Crown.
Famously, prime ministers are often invited up to the grand retreat to see the monarch during the summer and face the bewildering “Balmoral test.”
Andrew Morton wrote in his 1992 book Diana: Her True Story : “The very quirks and obscure family traditions which have accrued over the years can intimidate newcomers.
“‘Don’t sit there,’ they chorus at an unfortunate guest foolish enough to try and sit in a chair in the drawing room which was last used by Queen Victoria.
“Those who successfully navigate this social minefield, popularly known as ‘the Balmoral test,’ are accepted by the royal family.
“The ones who fail vanish from royal favour as quickly as the Highland mists come and go.”
More pleasant however are the queen’s Balmoral garden parties held each summer for guests, including many from the charity sector.
The queen ordinarily spends Christmas in Norfolk, in the east of England, at Sandringham Hall, though coronavirus kept her in Windsor Castle last year.
The royals give presents on Christmas Eve in line with the German tradition and then walk up to church on Christmas Day where royal watchers gather.
On Boxing Day they shoot pheasant in the expansive 20,000 acre private estate.
Wood Farm, in Sandringham, is also where Prince Philip spent much of his retirement, before moving to Windsor to join the queen during the pandemic.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s U.K. home is Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, a short walk from the venue of their evening wedding reception at Frogmore House.
Windsor Castle, where they had their ceremony, is also not far away and Frogmore is the place where baby Archie spent his first months.
A past court filing by Meghan’s lawyers reads: “In return for the official and public functions which she and her husband performed, they were given residence in Frogmore Cottage (one of Her Majesty The Queen’s historic dwellings in Windsor Great Park).”
The cottage was previously split into five apartments for royal staff working at the castle but was renovated with $3.1 million of public money put towards the structural works.
Harry and Meghan paid for the aesthetic decorations as it was turned into a coherent single home with a nursery for Archie.
More recently, since moving to America, they let Princess Eugenie and her family stay there.
Prince William, Kate Middleton and their children live at ten-bedroom Anmer Hall, on the Sandringham Estate, when out of London.
The 18th century Georgian mansion was a gift to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after their 2011 wedding and was a refuge for the family during coronavirus.
The couple were filmed with children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis taking part in “Clap for Carers,” a tradition in the early days of the pandemic which saw Brits lean out of windows or stand on doorsteps to clap the NHS and front line workers.
Prince Andrew and his family stay at Royal Lodge, in Windsor, when out of London and daughter Princess Eugenie had a private dinner there after her 2018 wedding.
The Grade II listed mansion has 30 rooms and a large garden and Princess Beatrice also had a reception there after her COVID compliant wedding last year.
The Duke of York took on the property in 2002 after the death of the Queen Mother, who lived there from 1952, when her husband George VI died.
Prince Charles and Camilla live at 19th century mansion Clarence House while in London.
The building sits just off St James Palace and was the home of the queen and Prince Philip from their marriage in 1947 until she took the throne.
The Queen Mother made the building her London residence after that until she died in 2002.
The Royal Family website states: “The arrangement of the rooms and the grouping of their contents remain recognisably as they were in Queen Elizabeth’s time, with much of Her Majesty’s collection of works of art and furniture in their former positions.
“Very much a home, Clarence House is the last remaining great London house to be maintained in the purpose for which it was built.
“As the official London residence of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, it continues to play a part in the life of the Royal Family and the nation.”
Prince Charles also has a home called Llwynywermod, in Myddfai, Wales.
Anyone wanting a countryside vacation with a royal twist can also stay in one of two cottages in the courtyard which are available for holiday let, according to Wales Online .
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