Windsor Castle is an official residence of The Queen and the largest occupied castle in the world. A Royal home and fortress for over 900 years, the Castle remains a working palace today. The Queen uses the Castle both as a private home, where she usually spends the weekend, and as a Royal residence at which she undertakes certain formal duties. You can take a quick train ride from London and do a day trip to visit Windsor Castle.
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Visiting the Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a busy visitor attraction. Many parts of the Castle are open to the public, including the precincts, the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s famous dolls’ house, St George’s Chapel, and the Albert Memorial Chapel. When you purchase a ticket to visit the Castle, you do have access to The State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel. However, you are not allowed to photograph anything inside either of these locations.
Every year The Queen takes up official residence in Windsor Castle for a month over Easter (March-April), known as Easter Court. During that time The Queen hosts occasional ‘dine and sleeps’ events for guests, including politicians and public figures. The Queen is also in residence for a week in June, when she attends the service of the Order of the Garter and the Royal Ascot race meeting. When The Queen is in official residence, Changing the Guard provides a colorful spectacle in the quadrangle. Much less crowded than the one in at the Buckingham Palace in London.
The Order of the Garter ceremony brings together members of the senior order of chivalry for a service in St George’s Chapel. Beforehand, The Queen gives a lunch for the Knights of the Garter in the Castle’s Waterloo Chamber.
Any new Knights of the Garter are invested by The Queen in the Garter Throne Room. On the walls are portraits of monarchs in their Garter Robes, from George I to the present Queen, whose State portrait by Sir James Gunn was painted in 1954. The traditional State Banquet is held in St George’s Hall (55.5m long and 9m wide), with a table seating up to 160 guests.
St George’s Chapel, that is on the right here was built in the 15th and 16th centuries. This beautiful church has Gothic architecture with stunning fan vaulted ceiling, chapels, and tombs of monarchs.
How can you tell if the Queen is in the House
The most obvious and most used way of telling is to look at the flag above Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle or any other royal residence. If the British Flag (Union Flag) is flying above the residence, then Her Majesty is not in residence. If the Royal Standard is flying above the residence, then The Queen is in residence. The day of our visit, the Royal Standard Flag was flying above the Windsor Castle. The Queen was in Windsor Castle while we were there but we didn’t get to see her!
Royal Standard Flag was flying above the Windsor Castle
Visit the town of Windsor and Eton
After visiting the castle, the grounds and the royal residence, you can spend some time wandering the charming cobble stoned streets in the town of Windsor. There are many markets, pubs and cafes that you have lunch and spend the day. Across the river is Eton, Windsor’s neighbor and home to the famous college of the same name. The streets are charming and the college is full of architectural gems where you can spend some time before catching the train back to London.
Have you been to the Windsor Castle, did you see the Queen?
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