Inside the palaces where Queen Elizabeth found solace from scandal


At the age of 96, Queen Elizabeth II, in all her legacy and contribution to the British monarchy, has died.

And while her highness tried very eagerly to diffuse all the palace drama, the burden ended with her.

But at the height of each controversy and through it all — from the very public divorce of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, the scandal that plagued her youngest son, Prince Andrew, and the moment her grandchild, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle decided to call it quits — she found solace in places she would call home for most of her life.

In March 2022, Queen Elizabeth, made the decision to leave her main residence at Buckingham Palace to permanently reside at her beloved Windsor Castle, which she had used mostly as her weekend home.

The decision was based partly on an ongoing “reservicing” of the palace, according to the Times of London.

It was also Elizabeth’s preference for the castle over Buckingham Palace, where she spent her last days with her late husband Prince Philip, who passed away just a year prior, sources told the paper.

“Windsor is the place she loves,” one of her acquaintances, royal author and deputy lord lieutenant of Berkshire Hugo Vickers told the UK Times.

But Balmoral Castle in Scotland was her favorite of all her homes, and it’s where she spent the final days of her life.

Scroll through to see all of the properties Queen Elizabeth has called home throughout her incredible life.

The Headquarters | Buckingham Palace 

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25:  Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves Buckingham Palace in central London to address Parliament at the official State Opening of Parliament ceremony at Westminster on May 25, 2010 in London, England.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II leaves Buckingham Palace to address Parliament at the official State Opening of Parliament ceremony at Westminster on May 25, 2010.
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The White Drawing Room.
The White Drawing Room.
Derry Moore; The Royal Collection © 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Buckingham Palace was first a sizable townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703. King George III then acquired the home in 1761 as a private residence for his wife Queen Charlotte.

In the 19th century, architects John Nash and Edward Blore expanded the structure by building three wings around the central courtyard.

On July 9, 1982, British citizen Michael Fagan had scaled the walls of the palace twice — an event chronicled on a season of “The Crown.” On his second attempt, he reached Queen Elizabeth’s bedroom, and she awoke when he had come from the curtain.

Following the incident, heightened security measures were put in place.

The Throne Room.
The Throne Room.
Derry Moore; The Royal Collection © 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Green Drawing Room.
The Green Drawing Room.
Derry Moore;The Royal Collection © 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In 1837, the property was recognized as Buckingham Palace — the official London residence of the British monarchy. 

The residence holds a total of 775 rooms, including 19 staterooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.

Buckingham Palace, Westminster, London, 2015.
Buckingham Palace in London, 2015.
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The grand staircase.
The grand staircase.
Derry Moore; The Royal Collection © 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The State Dining Room.
The State Dining Room.
Peter Smith; The Royal Collection © 2009 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Visitors can tour a number of the staterooms inside the palace during specific times of the year.

The Holiday Home | Sandringham Estate/ Wood Farm

General view of Sandringham House, Queen Elizabeth II's country retreat set in 24 hectares of gardens on the Sandringham Estate, at Sandringham on August 30, 2011 in King's Lynn, England.
Sandringham House, Queen Elizabeth II’s country retreat, has 24 hectares of gardens.
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This home is usually reserved for entertaining during the holidays and is where the Queen and Prince Philip spent about two months a year during the winter. 

The Queen’s famous annual Christmas broadcast is held from the castle each year.

In what is now her final holiday speech at the castle, on December 25, 2021, she said of her husband, who passed away seven months prior: “But life, of course, consists of final partings as well as first meetings; and as much as I and my family miss him, I know he would want us to enjoy Christmas.”

Meanwhile, on the estate is a cottage known as Wood Farm. Prince Philip lived there after his retirement from public service in 2017, and it’s where he has spent most of his time during his final years. 

The sitting room features an expansive oil painting and a woodburning fireplace.
The sitting room features an expansive oil painting and a woodburning fireplace.
https://sandringhamestate.co.uk/
The saloon.
The saloon.
https://sandringhamestate.co.uk/

Made from red brick, the estate sits on 20,000 acres. The house features a saloon, a drawing room, a dining room and a ballroom. Other amenities include a gun room, a bowling alley, a library and a billiards room.

The Palace most recently listed the garden home of the estate on Airbnb.

The garden house of Sandringham Castle.
The garden house of Sandringham Castle.
Neil Longdin

The Country Home | Windsor Castle

An informal picture of the Royal Family in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The royal family on the grounds of Windsor Castle in April 1968.
Bettmann/CORBIS

Windsor Castle is a royal residence in the English county of Berkshire, with almost 1,000 years of architectural history.

During World War II, the Queen first moved there with her sister, Princess Margaret, for safety reasons. 

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 17: The Green Drawing Room, Restored Completely After The Fire At Windsor Castle
WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM – NOVEMBER 17: The Green Drawing Room, Restored Completely After The Fire At Windsor Castle
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

As with Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle is considered Queen Elizabeth’s home for as long as she is the ruling monarch. She frequented the castle during most weekends, due to its close proximity to her London home at Buckingham Palace. 

The property spans a massive 13 acres and boasts 1,000 rooms, making it the largest occupied castle in the world.

This was also the place where her husband, Prince Philip, spent his final days until his death on April 9, 2021.

“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know,” The Queen had said in a statement after his passing. 

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was the longest-serving royal consort in British history. 

His last wish during his final days was to die peacefully in his home at Windsor Castle.

“We knew that when he was taken home it was to die on his own terms, not in a hospital bed, but in his own bed,” a royal source told The Post, adding, “Philip didn’t want any fuss. He wanted to do things his way until the end.”

WINDSOR, ENGLAND  - APRIL 24: A general view of people exercising on The Long Walk with Windsor Castle in the background on April 24, 2020 in Windsor, England. The British government has extended the lockdown restrictions first introduced on March 23 that are meant to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The Long Walk with Windsor Castle in the background on April 24, 2020.
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WINDSOR, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27:  A general view as the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait arrives at Windsor Castle during a three-day state visit on November 27, 2012 in Windsor, England. In the afternoon a military parade will be inspected at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst then a banquet is to be held at Windsor Castle in the Amir's honour this evening.
A general view as the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait arrives at Windsor Castle during a three-day state visit on November 27, 2012.
Getty Images

The Summer Home | Balmoral Castle

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh with two of their children, Prince Andrew (right) and Prince Edward, at Balmoral.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh with two of their children at Balmoral.
PA Images via Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh during a visit to a farm on their Balmoral estate, to celebrate their Silver Wedding anniversary.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh during a visit to a farm on their Balmoral estate, to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary.
PA Images via Getty Images
United Kingdom, Scotland, Aberdeenshire, Balmoral, View of the Balmoral Castle, Balmoral Castle is a castle located on the River Dee beneath the Lochnagar Mountain, Scotland, Queen Summer Residency, Victoria.
United Kingdom, Scotland, Aberdeenshire, Balmoral, View of the Balmoral Castle, Balmoral Castle is a castle located on the River Dee beneath the Lochnagar Mountain, Scotland, Queen Summer Residency, Victoria.
Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Balmoral Castle is believed to be the Queen’s favorite home in the world — and is her private residence which doesn’t belong to the government. Usually reserved for the end of summer, it is where Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip would spend most of their time during the August and September months. 

The Queen spent virtually every summer at the private residence since her childhood.

This year, she arrived at the castle on July 24, where she spent her final days until her passing.

It is considered the largest estate in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 

Princess Elizabeth alongside her grandparents at Balmoral Castle taking a carriage ride to Sunday church services.
Princess Elizabeth alongside her grandparents at Balmoral Castle taking a carriage ride to Sunday church services.
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Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at Balmoral to celebrate their Silver Wedding anniversary.
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at Balmoral to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary in 1972.
PA Images via Getty Images
The Queen had a special affinity for Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
The Queen had a special affinity for Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
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Queen Elizabeth  at the drawing room at Balmoral Castle.
Queen Elizabeth at the drawing room at Balmoral Castle.
Jane Barlow/Pool via REUTERS
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip wait to receive the president of Malta at Balmoral Castle in 2005.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip wait to receive the president of Malta at Balmoral Castle in 2005.
Getty Images

The castle has been described by visitors as “freaky” and “surreal,” and has been known as the countryside escape where the Queen had enthusiastically washed her own dishes.

The Hogwarts-looking Scottish summer home was also where the royal and her predecessors annually summered for almost two centuries.

Just off the River Dee, the secluded, 11-bedroom estate — where Prince Philip got engaged to Queen Elizabeth in 1946 — spans a whopping 50,000 acres.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip during their traditional summer break at Balmoral Castle.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip during their traditional summer break at Balmoral Castle.
Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth watching Prince Charles playing with a toy car on the grounds of Balmoral Castle.
Queen Elizabeth watching Prince Charles playing with a toy car on the grounds of Balmoral Castle.
Lisa Sheridan/Getty Images

The working estate features grouse moors, forests and farmland, as well as managed herds of deer, Highland cattle and ponies.

With approximately 150 buildings on the estate, the royal family employs about 50 fulltime workers, with 50 to 100 who are part-time, to maintain the estate. 

The Scottish Residence | Palace of Holyroodhouse

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JULY 01: The Palace Of Holyrood House In Edinburgh, Scotland.
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – JULY 01: The Palace Of Holyrood House In Edinburgh, Scotland.
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Also known as the Edinburgh Palace, the home was originally founded as a monastery in 1128.

It was the Queen and Prince Philip’s official residence in Scotland when she typically stayed there during the first week of summer for an event known as “Holyrood Week.” It is a royal event to celebrate Scottish culture. 

Aerial view of Holyrood palace, 1671-1679, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, 17th century.
An aerial view of Holyroodhouse.
De Agostini via Getty Images
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - APRIL 09:  The Royal Standard of Scotland flag, (also known as the Royal Banner of Scotland) flies at half mast to mark the death of the Duke Of Edinburgh at Holyrood House on April 09, 2021 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. HRH passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
The Royal Standard of Scotland flag, also known as the Royal Banner of Scotland, flies at half-mast to mark the death of the Duke of Edinburgh at Holyroodhouse on April 9, 2021 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
Getty Images

The Northern Irish Residence | Hillsborough Castle

This is the only royal residence in Northern Ireland and where Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stay when they are there. Spanning 100 acres, the Georgian country house has several gardens open for tourism.  

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 25:  Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh signs the visitors book at Hillsborough Castle, on the third and final day of the Queen's visit to Northern Ireland, on June 25, in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, signs the visitors’ book at Hillsborough Castle.
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Art hung on the marble wall in the grand hall of Hillsborough Castle.
Art hangs on the marble wall in the grand hall of Hillsborough Castle.
Historic Royal Palaces

Restored staterooms include the Throne Room where, in 1953, the Queen received guests at a ball to celebrate her coronation. It also includes the State Drawing Room, Lady Grey’s Study, State Dining Room, Red Room and Stair Hall.

Built in the 1770s, it is also the official residence of Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State.

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 14:  A general view of the Garden party at Hillsborough Castle on June 14, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
A view of a garden at Hillsborough Castle.
WireImage

Now, mourners around the world will gather around her properties to remember the legacy of Queen Elizabeth.

But as the Queen herself once said: “Grief is the price we pay for love.” And she loved her country and the people in it dearly.





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