Over the years you may have heard the names of numerous castles associated with the Queen of England, but where did Queen Elizabeth live her day to day life? From her crowning in 1953 until the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, Buckingham Palace in London served as her main residence. At that point, she decamped for Windsor Castle, and while this was supposed to be temporary, she never stayed the night at Buckingham Palace again before her death on September 8, 2022.
Throughout her reign, the monarch also spent time at her two privately owned homes, Sandringham and Balmoral, the latter of which is where she spent her final days on earth.
Here, AD rounds up the stunning, historically significant living quarters of the late Queen as well as King Charles III, Prince William, and the rest of the royal family, from lesser-known private houses to the most famous of Crown-owned castles.
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II had several lavish residences that she retreated to at different points throughout the year. Up until her husband Prince Philip’s passing in April 2021, the monarch primarily lived in private quarters at the famous 775-room Buckingham Palace in London during the week. During her time there, she added the Queen’s Gallery, where objects from the Royal Collection are regularly displayed for visitors to see. She also set into motion an extensive renovation which is expected to be done in 2027 and will cost an estimated $500 million.
In her final years, partly due to the pandemic, she spent a lot of her time at Windsor Castle, where the Duke of Edinburgh died and is buried. Prior to the pandemic, she and her late husband of 73 years enjoyed weekends, and a month around Easter, at the castle, which has been a royal home for more than 900 years. Spanning more than 13 acres with over 1,000 rooms, the property is the largest occupied castle in the world.
The queen spent a portion of her summer at Balmoral Castle in Scotland each year. The private residence, originally purchased for Queen Victoria by Prince Albert (Queen Elizabeth II’s great-great-grandparents), reportedly sits on 50,000 acres with 150 total buildings. While the home remains largely the same as it did in Victoria’s possession, Elizabeth made slight renovations. This property was said to be her favorite, and it is where she died peacefully.
In a 2016 documentary, her granddaughter Princess Eugenie said it best: “I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands. Walks, picnics, dogs—a lot of dogs, there's always dogs. And people coming in and out all the time.”
Also in Scotland is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where the queen stayed during the start of each summer for Royal Week. It was built as a monastery in 1128, and renovations in the 1670s contributed to the successful maintenance of the palace today, largely thanks to King Charles II, who built the upper floor where the royal family’s private apartments are now situated.
At Christmastime, the queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and other members of the royal family famously headed to Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, which Elizabeth inherited from her father, George VI.
Finally, when the queen traveled to Northern Ireland, she resided at Hillsborough Castle, which was built in the 1770s and is surrounded by 100 acres of greenery.
Prince William and Duchess Kate
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, primarily resided in Kensington Palace Apartment 1A until 2022, when they moved to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor in order to give the kids more space and freedom.
The family will still maintain their London digs, however, and according to Vogue, the 20-room, four-story Kensington apartment underwent a $1.6 million renovation prior to the pair’s 2013 move-in. An additional $4.9 million revamp took place the following year, the palace confirmed to People at the time. While William and Kate keep the general details of their home private, the world got a glimpse of one of the reception rooms in 2016, following a visit from Barack and Michelle Obama. In the photos, the group sits in a stunning neutral-colored room featuring floral pillows and an abundance of lamps. While it’s no shock that the couple has great taste when it comes to decor, many were surprised to learn that they chose to adorn their children’s rooms with IKEA furniture.
As for their new pad, Adelaide Cottage is located on the grounds of Windsor Home Park. With just four bedrooms, it is smaller than their Kensington apartment, but boasts historic charm. Built in 1831 by architect and garden designer Sir Jeffry Wyatville, it was once described by The Mirror as having the “quaint elegance of the embellished order of domestic architecture in the Old English school.”
The family also spends part of their time at Norfolk’s Anmer Hall on Sandringham Estate. The newly refurbished 10-bedroom country home was given to William and Kate as a wedding present from the queen when they tied the knot in 2011.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Following their engagement announcement in 2017, the former Suits star moved into Prince Harry’s home, Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex remained in the 1,300-square-foot two-bedroom home (once inhabited by William and Kate) until shortly before the 2019 birth of their son, Archie. When it came time to relocate, the pair decided to head back to the site of their wedding, Windsor Castle, and live on the grounds’ Frogmore Cottage. The home, which was a wedding gift from the queen, wasn’t quite ready for the family of three, and turning the five-unit property into a single-family house required a renovation that cost more than $3 million. According to The Cut, the cottage, originally constructed in the 1800s, now has 10 bedrooms, a nursery, a gym, and a yoga studio. While the renovation was paid for with public funds, the couple purchased their own furniture and decor out of pocket. As they waited for the renovations to be complete, the pair also reportedly rented a temporary home on the Great Tew Estate in the Cotswolds.
Then, in early 2020, Harry and Meghan made the shocking decision to step back as senior royal members and move across the pond. After a brief stint in Canada and then Los Angeles, the pair—who are also parents to daughter Lilibet “Lili” Diana—ultimately settled in a $14.7 million estate in the upscale enclave of Montecito, California. The couple paid back the $3 million spent to renovate Frogmore Cottage, though they are still able to use the home when they visit the U.K. (In fact, they returned for the first time in June, when they returned to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and hosted a first birthday party for Lilibet in the garden.)
As the couple has navigated post-royal life—doing various charity initiatives, signing a deal with Netflix, and Meghan launching a new podcast—the public has gotten small glimpses of their Montecito home, where the decor is a far cry from the gilded furnishings of most of the palaces. During their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March of 2021, they showed off their backyard chicken coop. Months later, in a video for a charitable initiative announced around Meghan’s 40th birthday, the Duchess showed off her California cool office, accessorized with crystals and white roses.
King Charles III and the Queen Consort, Camilla
King Charles III and the Queen Consort, Camilla, have mainly resided at Clarence House in London since their wedding in 2005. The property, built between 1825 and 1827, was once home to Charles’s grandmother, the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (affectionately known as the Queen Mum). Prior to the couple moving in, the home underwent extensive renovations and was refurbished with new artwork, textiles, and a new color scheme. No announcements have yet been made about whether the new king and queen will change their living arrangements in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
The pair call Highgrove House in Gloucestershire their second home. The now-king has owned this house since 1980, and he previously spent weekends there with his first wife, the late Princess Diana, and their children, Princes William and Harry. Today, Charles enjoys tending to the gardens at the home and makes his concern for the environment apparent by using energy-saving lightbulbs and solar lights on the property and instructing the staff to compost kitchen waste.
Like his mother, Charles enjoys spending his holidays on the Balmoral estate where he stays with Camilla at his private 53,000-acre cottage called Birkhall. Following the Queen Mother’s death in 2002, Charles inherited the property and even spent his honeymoon with Camilla there.
Additionally, Charles owns a country home in Llwynywermod, Wales, which he bought in 2007, and Tamarisk House, which is located in the Isles of Scilly.
Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie
The daughters of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson lived together in an apartment at St. James’s Palace in London for 10 years. Because the two are not considered “working royals,” their father paid for the cost of the apartment, which came out to about $26,000 annually, according to Insider. In 2018, Eugenie married Jack Brooksbank, and the couple moved into their first home together, the three-bedroom Ivy Cottage at Kensington Palace. (According to House Beautiful, the residence underwent a $15 million renovation in 2012.) At the end of 2020, while awaiting the birth of their first child, a son named August, the pair reportedly briefly lived in Harry and Meghan’s U.K. home, Frogmore Cottage. As of January 2021, the new parents were said to be residing at The Royal Lodge in Windsor, which is the official country residence of Eugenie’s parents.
Beatrice, meanwhile, reportedly still lives in St. James with her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, who she married in July 2020, and their daughter, Sienna, whom they welcomed in September of 2021.
In addition to maintaining a London residence at St. James’s Palace, the Princess Royal spends most of her time at Gatcombe Park, the Gloucestershire estate her mother purchased for her in 1976. The grounds are host to the annual Festival of British Eventing, as well as a handful of other smaller equestrian events. Anne’s daughter Zara also maintains a home on the property with her husband, Mike Tindall.
Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex
For more than two decades, Bagshot Park in Surrey has been the primary home of the Earl and Countess of Wessex. Before moving into the brick mansion with 120 rooms, Edward (the youngest son of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II) and the Crown Estate reportedly spent more than $3 million on renovations.