Incredible Homes of Queen Elizabeth II

As you probably know by now, Queen Elizabeth II sadly passed away on Sept 8, 2022 at 96 years old. At the time of her death she had held the throne for over 70 years, longer than any previous monarch to reign over the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms. She led an amazing life full of charity and grace. She also had some amazing places she called home.

To put into perspective just how long Queen Elizabeth’s reign was, she took the throne in 1952 just 7 years after World War II had ended, while Winston Churchill was still the Prime Minister of England. To cover 70+ years of accomplishments made by the Queen in this article would prove impossible, however as a real estate company, our curiosities were piqued in reviewing the primary homes, palaces and castles and their incredible history that Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family frequented during her lifetime. Let’s begin.


BALMORAL CASTLE
 
Estimated Value: $165 Million

Balmoral Castle, one of only two homes personally owned by Queen Elizabeth II and where she spent her final days, is located in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and has been the Scottish home of the Royal Family since it was purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert in 1852. Actually considered an estate house, the history of Balmoral can be traced back to the late 1300s as being built and occupied by Scottish kings and noblemen. As it passed through the centuries, the estate was expanded and additions were made to the estate. Once acquired by the Royal Family, upon their first visit Queen Victoria found the estate “small but pretty” and in 1853 construction began on what is known today as Balmoral castle. Once completed in 1856, the old building was demolished. Sitting on 50,000 acres and located within the Cairngorms National Park, the estate is made up of a combination of formal gardens, green spaces, and a working estate, which includes forestry land, farmland, and an array of animals, including deer, Highland cattle, and ponies. The home itself is decorated in traditional Caledonian style and also includes lodges, holiday cottages and 150 outbuildings and cottages. With its last addition, Balmoral Castle has a total of 52 bedrooms and astonishing gardens that are a must see for visitors. In fact it’s open to the public to visit from April through July while the family isn’t there.


BUCKINGHAM PALACE 
Estimated Value: $5 Billion

Buckingham Palace, the best-known of the Royal Family’s residences, is located in the city of Westminster, right in the heart of London. Recognized around the world as the home of the monarch, it is also home to national & royal celebrations, the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony, and serves as the administrative headquarters of the monarchy. The building which remains the core of today’s palace was built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham, hence the name, and was originally known as Buckingham House. In 1761 it was acquired by King George III and became known as The Queen’s House. Three wings were constructed in the 19th century and it became the London residence of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. The last major structural additions were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During World War II the palace was bombed nine time, destroying the chapel in the process, where the Queen’s Gallery was later built on the site. In total, the palace has over 830,000 square feet of living space, including 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, 78 bathrooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms and 19 State Rooms. It also has a post office, cinema, swimming pool, doctor's surgery, police station and jeweler's workshop as well as housing priceless works of art including those by Rembrandt and Monet. Outside the palace are also the Royal Mews (equestrian stables) along with its stablehands’ quarters and a large park-like garden of 42 acres with its own lake where Queen Elizabeth II would host her annual tea parties. Today visitors can tour the State Rooms each summer as they are opened to the public.

     

THE PALACE OF HOLYROODHOUSE 
Estimated Value: $70 Million

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, located in Edinburgh, is the Royal Family’s official residence in Scotland. The current building dates back to the 1600s, although the original building was founded by King David of Scotland in 1128 to be used as an Augustinian monastery. As the Abbey prospered with Edinburgh as Scotland’s capital, the kings chose to call Holyroodhouse home. The grounds near the Abbey were cleared in 1501 by order of James IV where he had a palace built for himself and his bride. Additions were made through the centuries such as several towers as Holyroodhouse became home to many historical figures, including Mary, Queen of Scots, where she spent the majority of her turbulent life. Restoration and additions continued into the 20th century as times became more modern such as electricity and plumbing. With 87,120 square feet of floor space, making up 289 rooms, there is a full time year round staff of over 100 people, although the Queen only occupied the palace one week out of the year, known as ‘Royal Week.’ During that time she would conduct Scotland State Business including her famous garden parties where she would host up to 8,000 people in the palace and on the estate grounds. Tourists can visit Holyroodhouse throughout the year to see the palace and grounds and explore its close associations with some of Scotland's most well-known figures.

WINDSOR CASTLE 
Estimated Value: $236 Million

Windsor Castle is located high above the river Thames in the English county of Berkshire, about an hour outside of central London. With the original castle being built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, parts of the structure date all the way back to the Norman Conquest of England (nearly 1,000 years ago), making it the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Since that time it has been the home of 40 monarchs. Of course having been around for so long and being home to so many royal families, the castle has undergone centuries of alterations; Wooden fortifications were replaced with stone, the castle was rebuilt in the 1400s in a Gothic style by King Edward III including a medieval Undercroft, St. George’s Chapel was built, along with other changes. It also survived a Civil War from 1642 through 1651, as well as a large fire that broke out in Queen Victoria’s private chapel in 1992. The fire raged for 15 hours and took 1.5 MILLION gallons of water to extinguish. The extensive damage destroyed nine of the principal state rooms and one-fifth of the castle’s floor space (120,000 square feet). Full restoration was not complete until 1997 with the total cost being roughly 48 million dollars, which was almost exclusively funded by the sale of tickets to see the inside of the home for the first time. Windsor Castle was Queen Elizabeth’s main residence for the last decade and remains open to public tours today. With grounds covering 13 acres, combining the features of a fortification, palace, and a small town, the castle itself is approximately 484,000 square feet and today has approximately 1,000 rooms including several dungeons under the castle that for hundreds of years were used to hold prisoners - thankfully they only serve as tourist attractions today.

SANDRINGHAM HOUSE 
Estimated Value: $165 Million

Sandringham House is the country house of the monarchs and is the second home personally owned by Queen Elizabeth II, rather than as head of state. Located in the parish of Sandringham, Norfolk, England, this estate is about two-and-a-half hours northeast of London. Construction on the current building began in 1870, though previous grand homes have existed on the site since the 1500s during the Elizabethan Era. The house stands in a 20,000-acre estate in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with the landscaped gardens, park and woodlands being part of the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Sandringham was the place where Elizabeth II’s father King George VI and grandfather King George V both died and it was her custom to spend the anniversary of her father’s death at the home, and more recently she spent a couple of months each year at the palace from Christmas until February. In 1977, for her silver jubilee, the Queen opened up Sandringham to the public. The estate itself has over 300 homes on the property with almost all of them being income generating rentals. In fact, one of them close to the Sandringham House was recently listed on Airbnb for $354 a night. The only time that’s blocked off from taking on stays was when the Queen, and now King is there. Throughout the course of the year there are also a number of events hosted at Sandringham that the public can attend, in addition to visiting the shops and restaurants located at the estate.

   

HILLSBOROUGH CASTLE 
Estimated Value: $45 Million

Located in the village of Royal Hillsborough, Hillsborough Castle is the official residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, as well as the official Northern Ireland residence of the British Royal Family when they visit the region. The title may be a bit misleading, seeing as this is not a true castle, yet is a Georgian country house built in the 18th century for the Wills Hill, Marquesses of Downshire, and his family. The house and gardens were expanded upon throughout generations until the estate was sold to the British government for around £24,000 (over $23 Million USD today) in 1925 by the 7th Marquess of Downshire. Viewed by some as a politically neutral venue, Hillsborough has played an important role in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland since the 1980s. Today, Hillsborough Castle sits on over 100 acres of glorious gardens and offers lovely contrasts of woodland and waterways decorated by trees and plants that were brought in from all over the world. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh stayed in the home in 2002 while she was visiting Northern Ireland as part of her Golden Jubilee tour of the United Kingdom. Today, visitors to Hillsborough are able to explore the gardens, although the castle is currently closed to tours with the exception of select dates near Christmas 2022.

BLENHEIM PALACE 
Estimated Value: $281 Million

Blenheim Palace is located in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England, and although it is one of England’s largest houses, is not technically a palace. However, it is the only non-royal, non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace and is considered one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in all of Great Britain. It is probably most famously known as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. In 1704 the land and ruins of Royal Manor of Woodstock was given by the nation to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, for his triumphs during the War of the Spanish Succession and construction for the palace began in 1705 with some funding by Queen Anne. Funding was later cut by parliament due to political infighting over the tremendous costs, causing construction to be halted half way through and 600% over the intended budget. The palace was eventually completed in 1922 and became home to generations of the Churchill family. Additions including the chapel were later built and it was also saved from ruin by funds from the American railroad heiress, Consuelo Vanderbilt, when she married the 9th Duke of Marlborough in the late 19th century. The palace today accounts for 7 acres at 145,000 square feet & 187 rooms and remains home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family, alongside one of Europe's most important & extensive collections of portraits, furniture, sculptures and tapestries. Opened to the general public in 1950, the palace is open for tours and hosts events throughout the year including a jousting tournament each summer.


KENSINGTON PALACE 
Estimated Value: $630 Million

Located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, Kensington Palace is a royal residence, birthplace of Queen Victoria, and home to young royals for over 300 years. Originally a two-story mansion built in 1605 known as Nottingham House, it was bought by joint monarchs King William III and Queen Mary II in 1689 and quickly expanded upon, which would again be the case in following decades. While inhabited by Queen Victoria, the palace would come to suffer severe damage from an incendiary bomb during The Blitz of 1940, which went unrepaired for many years. In 2012 Historic Royal Palaces completed major refurbishments at Kensington including a grand new entrance and new gardens, restoring the prominence of the palace to its heyday. Many members, including Princess Diana, have called Kensington “home” and today the palace remains home to a number of royals including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children. Since the middle of 2017, Apartment 1A has also been the main residence for Prince William and Catherine Middleton's family, which has four floors and 20 rooms. The 547 room palace sits on 60 acres of manicured grounds, and has some of the most well-kept gardens in London. The palace is open to tourists today with favorite attractions being Victoria’s reimagined childhood rooms, the King’s and Queen’s State Apartments and the Sunken Garden, dating back to 1908 and featuring an ornamental pond, fountains, terraced flower beds, and a statue of Princess Diana.


There’s no question that Queen Elizabeth II truly lived an extraordinary life in her service to her country and crown. Neither did any others from the Royal Family, for that matter. It’s still difficult to comprehend the extensive history and sheer scale of these magnificent estates, palaces, and castles in our modern times, but we are extremely grateful they still stand for us all to visit in awe.


     


  


Posted by Michael Perna on
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