The Cambridges Set to Move to Windsor

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It’s official (ish) – the Cambridges are set to move to Windsor this summer. The Times reported over the weekend that William and Kate are due to move into Adelaide Cottage on the Windsor estate, with their three children enrolled in a Berkshire school this autumn.

This marks a third home for the family as they will retain Kensington Palace as their London base and Anmer Hall in Norfolk. Their new home, Adelaide Cottage, is extremely close to Windsor Castle, where the Queen is now permanently based, and offers private entrances to and from the Castle. The location, in Berkshire, is also close to where Kate’s parents and brother live, so in many ways this move can be seen as bringing the Cambridges closer to family on both sides.

Also on the Windsor estate is The Duke of York, who lives in the Royal Lodge. There was some discussion online of whether or not he would vacate it so the Cambridges would move in, but I always considered it unlikely Andrew would be willing to give that residence up. He currently shares it (at least part time) with his ex-wife, Fergie, as the house is massive enough they can essentially live in separate quarters. So, Andrew is staying put, though there was a rumor a few days ago as to whether he would be installed in Scotland somewhere for the time being to keep him out of the public eye. If I see more, we can dig into that further.

Nearby in Surrey there is also The Earl and Countess of Wessex who live in Bagshot Park (11 miles from Windsor Castle) with their two children.

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And finally there is Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank, who have recently been living in Frogmore Cottage with their son, August. The Brooksbanks vacated the cottage over Jubilee weekend when Harry and Meghan were in town (who still “own” it and in fact renewed the lease for another year) – it’s now unclear whether they will be moving back in or looking for another residence. For context, Princess Beatrice and her family live in apartments in St. James’s Palace in London, but are in the process of renovating a private residence in the Cotswolds that they purchased themselves. It’s possible, if not likely, that the couple will retain their apartment as a London base, but live primarily in the country. Eugenie could follow suit or work to find another suitable property on the Windsor estate.

Rumor has it that she was actually eyeing Adelaide Cottage for a while, but naturally the Cambridges won out. It’s an interesting choice – the cottage was built in 1831 for William IV’s wife, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. Later on, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert frequently visited it with their children, and Queen Victoria sometimes went by on her own for a more private breakfast or tea when staying at Windsor Castle. Her famously beloved dog, Dash, is also buried on its grounds.

Late on, in the late 1940s and early 1950s it was used by Group Captain Peter Townsend and his family. Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were frequent guests, and it’s now believed that his romance with Margaret may well have begun – or at least had roots in – during their time together riding out on the Windsor estate.

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Since then it’s been used by a distant cousin of the Queen and was reportedly renovated as recently as 2015. In 2018 it was one of the residence bandied about as a potential home for Harry and Meghan before they ended up going with Frogmore Cottage, the latter apparently being larger. Which is why I find this to be an interesting choice for William and Kate at this point – the house apparently has only four bedrooms. With three children, that doesn’t leave room for guests. There’s apparently a two-bedroom “lodge” next door where presumably the nanny and maybe a housekeeper will live? But all told, this is certainly a scaled down residence in comparison to Kensington Palace and Anmer Hall.

The other options on the Windsor estate are Fort Belvedere, which was used by Edward VIII when he was the Prince of Wales (and briefly king), and Frogmore House. Both would require extensive renovations, which would not only delay the move by at least another year, but also almost definitely lead to negative headlines about William and Kate taking on a third house. And while there’s been some chatter about this online, all told, due to the house’s modesty and the lack of needed refurbishments, this news cycle has been pretty relaxed. If anything, it’s been a positive one since it underlines William moving to be closer to the Queen.

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As for the timing, well, that’s notable for a couple different reasons. Prince George and Princess Charlotte have been enrolled at Thomas’s Battersea, a co-ed school close to KP. This autumn, they are expected to move full-time into a Berkshire-based school where Prince Louis will join them. As such, we will likely have more first-day-school pictures in September, even if they’re snaps that the Cambridges release instead of an actual photo opp as we saw with George and Charlotte a few years back. I would imagine a very real consideration was ensuring that wherever they ended up in Windsor, it happened this summer to ensure that Louis started the next leg of his education where they meant to end it.

Another factor to consider is the proximity of Eton College, where William and Harry attended secondary school, and where at least William had a positive experience. So far William and Kate have favored co-ed schools for their children, but I think it’s a distinct possibility that at least George will end up at Eton. Particularly if the Cambridges aren’t enthusiastic about boarding – the flexibility of living at Windsor means that either George can easily be a day student or visits home can be frequent.

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The other timing note I will add is that it’s being reported that the Cambridges will move to the “big house” (Windsor Castle) when William is Prince of Wales. Frankly, that helps explain them taking on a primary residence of this size – this is likely only the reality of a couple more years, at most, as unfortunate as that may be.

And I have to say, the Cambridges using Windsor Castle as their home as Prince and Princess of Wales is not a move I saw coming. Mainly because Windsor Castle has always been one of the primary residences of the monarch. To be fair, it hasn’t clearly been articulated that Charles won’t also use it, but it’s been reported for a while that he has a very different view on how to manage crown properties. For example, a few years ago there was a story that he didn’t want to make the move from Clarence House to Buckingham Palace, and instead use the latter for only ceremonial occasions and office space. That was never confirmed, and in fact it’s now believed that he and Camilla *will* move to Buckingham Palace, but relegating Windsor to his heir is certainly in line with the “streamlined” thinking.

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And longer-term, that indicates that William would then be well-positioned to operate along the same lines – use Windsor Castle as his base, while only using Buckingham Palace for public engagements, meetings, etc.

Which then, of course, begs the question, what becomes of Kensington Palace? KP has massive apartments – one is used by the Cambridges, one by the Gloucesters, and another used to house Diana, Princess of Wales (and Charles when they were married), but is now used for events and additional space. If the monarchy is streamlined so that only a monarch’s children are working members of the Royal Family – and maybe not even that, it really depends on where William (and Charles to an extent) nets out on that – then in the coming years, only Charlotte and Louis would be eligible for “royal residences.”

Frankly, it remains to be seen whether non-working royals like Beatrice and Eugenie continue to have access to apartments in St. James’s Palace or Windsor “cottages” under Charles.

In the meantime, this means that the next time Harry and Meghan *do* visit the UK, it will only be all the more the awkward if the families don’t get together….

8 thoughts on “The Cambridges Set to Move to Windsor

  1. Shay

    If George boards all week, then they really don’t need a huge house. And they probably won’t need nanny Maria too much longer either if all three kids are in school. And the few times W and K are on tour or unavailable to receive Louis or Charlotte after school, Kates family is there. But I must say, this Cambridge residence has been so poorly planned. Having two huge houses and one smaller one is ridiculous. They should have been at Windsor the whole time instead of Amner. Look at Charles who had Highgrove as his country house and that’s it. Then a city residence, CH.

    1. Yeah, it’s tricky. They seem to love Anmer Hall and want to continue using it, and they clearly don’t love living in Kensington Palace, which makes sense from a privacy and logistical standpoint. It does seem like their living situations have had a bit of trial and error to them. My guess is that they didn’t fully appreciate pre-children how difficult full-time London life would be, and the continuous trek to Norfolk just doesn’t work timing-wise. It is unfortunate that a larger Windsor residence wasn’t just renovated on the front end, but I guess hindsight is 20/20 🙂

  2. LEW

    The fact that this will likely be a very short term move (sadly) hadn’t struck me Rebecca but I think you’re spot on. Adelaide Cottage is modest, already renovated and close to the Queen, so unlikely to provoke much comment. I think Fort Belvedere might have a few too many unfortunate echoes which the Press would certainly pick up on.

    I’ve been in Apartment 1A at KP, after Margaret died (obviously!) It was empty as they were having an exhibition of Snowdon’s photos and even allowing for the lack of furnishings, it felt vast and not too homely. The whole of KP felt a bit like that, strange mishmash of private bits/public bits and I can imagine it might feel a bit like living in a goldfish bowl in the main apartments. I still prefer it to Sandringham which had the worst atmosphere of any “stately home” I’ve ever been in, not that my preferences are of any account! Many years later, reading ‘The Quest for Queen Mary’ I found out that James Pope-Hennessy felt the same, decades earlier.

    Sorry for the digression!

    1. Totally agree re: KP. I’ve never actually been to Sandringham, but that’s definitely what I’ve heard. I honestly wonder if Charles will end up keeping it in the portfolio. It was intertwined in the family with Edward VII, George V, and George VI that I think it has sentimental significant to the Queen, but I don’t get that sense with the younger generations.

      1. LEW

        I do think they might hand it over to do something worthy with, as you say the last major association is with HMQE and her memories. There are other houses on the estate (like Anmer) for a Norfolk foothold. Interested that you heard it is not marvellous Rebecca, the grounds are lovely. I went when on honeymoon, my husband is a retired journalist who covered the “Sandringham beat” for some years (one of the poor creatures with the press pack under a tree on Christmas Day, for eg!) I can usually toddle happily and undisturbed around the most forbidding places at twilight, but several rooms in that house gave me the utter creeps, and I’m not sure why.

  3. Miss Kitty

    I thought Princess Eugenie and her family had relocated to Portugal for her husband’s job. As she is still keeping her job in England, I guess they will want some base there, but may not need a house as big as Frogmore Cottage.

    1. Db

      Frontier cottage is only 4 bedrooms. It’s not big at all. Two sitting rooms. All of he senior royals live in much larger homes. Ex, Edward and Sophie have 100 rooms in a massive frogmore is not too big for someone like Eugene or Beatrice. Middle-class homes are often larger, and these girls are used to massive homes.

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