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Facts About Windsor Castle, One of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip's Residences

Windsor Castle is nearly 1,000 years old, and has a colorful, storied past.

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Photography: Shutterstock

On April 9, 2021, Buckingham Palace made known the passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at age 99, signaling the end of a much-followed love story between him and Queen Elizabeth II.

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” the British Royal Family said in a statement. “His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”

The Prince’s passing marks another historic moment within the walls of the storied Windsor Castle, which has stood for several hundred years. Learn more about this monument to British Royalty from the facts below:

Windsor Castle

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Windsor Castle began as both a political and defensive structure

The first iteration of the castle rose in the 9th century, during the time of William the Conqueror, whose goal was to drive out the Saxons and to consolidate his power by building castles in key locations. Windsor Castle, which rose above the River Thames by the edge of Saxon hunting grounds, was one of them.

The castle walls were initially made of timber

It was only in the 12th century that Henry II replaced wood with stone. More structures were added to the original building, such as a chapel, a courtyard, a cloister, and a tower. During the reign on of Edward III, the castle transformed from a military structure to a “gothic palace” with the addition of more towers and separate quarters for the King and the Queen.

The Tudors lived in the castle

While Henry VII did not make any notable changes to the castle, his daughter, Elizabeth I, took up the duty of renovating parts of the residence that were badly in need of repair.

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Windsor Castle

George IV invested nearly £300,000 to beautify the castle

Windsor Castle saw continued gothic upgrades during the time of George IV. One of his most notable additions was the Grand Corridor, which is a 168-meter gallery in the castle’s Upper Ward. He also extended St. George’s Hall, and added the Waterloo Chamber.

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Prince Albert, beloved husband of Queen Victoria, died in Windsor Castle

When Prince Albert passed away in the Blue Room of the residences, Queen Victoria was so distraught that she left Buckingham Palace to spend most of her days at Windsor. Grieving for so many years, she was called the “Widow of Windsor,” and wore black for the rest of her life.  

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Part of Windsor Castle burned in 1992

A fire, which started when a defective spotlight ignited a curtain, engulfed Queen Victoria’s private chapel on November 20, 1992. By the end of the outbreak, the ceiling of St. George’s Hall was damaged, including the Grand Reception Room, the State Dining Room, and the Crimson Drawing Room. The repairs were led by the Restoration Committee chaired by Prince Philip, and were completed five years after the incident.

Windsor Castle is one of the official residences of the British Royalty for almost 1,000 years

It continues to be an active palace, and is considered to be “the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world,” with a 2.65 mile approach road called “The Long Walk” that offers visitors a spectacular introduction to the structure.

Windsor Castle

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Whenever Queen Elizabeth II is in the residence, her standard is seen flying over the Round Tower. While the royal standard will remain at full-staff at Windsor Castle following Prince Philip’s passing, the Union flag in Buckingham Palace has been lowered on April 9 as national mourning begins in Britain.

Windsor Castle

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Sources: Royal Collection Trust, BritannicaBritain and Britishness, Grunge, Insider

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