One of the many decisions King Charles III will have to make is where he and the Queen Consort will live. As sovereign, he has the pick of an impressive portfolio of official residences and privately-owned estates. These are his options.
1. Buckingham Palace
The King was born in Buckingham Place, the official London home of UK monarchs since 1837 and boasting the capital’s biggest private garden.
The 775 rooms include 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 78 bathrooms, 92 offices and a swimming pool commissioned by King George VI so that Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret could splash around away from prying eyes.
In a typical year the palace hosts more than 50,000 people at state banquets, receptions, dinners, garden parties and other gatherings, and is the focal point for national celebrations — most recently the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, when she appeared on the famous balcony for the final time.
2. Windsor Castle
Dating back 950 years, this is the world’s oldest inhabited castle and the Queen’s weekend home for decades.
She often used it for hosting visits by heads of state, and hunkered down there with Prince Philip and trusted staff during the pandemic.
Over the centuries it has been altered and upgraded by successive monarchs, and restoration following a major fire in 1992 took five years to complete.
The £37m bill was funded mostly from money raised by opening Buckingham Palace’s state rooms to visitors.
The Queen will be laid to rest in the castle’s St George’s chapel, alongside her husband.
3. Clarence House
This John Nash-designed four-storey mansion – named after the Duke of Clarence, later William IV who built it in 1825-1827 – was Prince Charles’ official London residence until he acceded to the throne. A stone’ throw from Buckingham Palace, it was fully renovated before he moved in in 2003 and prior to that, had been home to Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother since 1953 and to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh following their wedding in 1947. It’s one of London’s very few remaining grand houses that’s still used for the purpose for which it was built.
4. Highgrove House
King Charles and his wife love spending down time at their late 18th century country house near Tetbury in Gloucestershire.
Owned by the Duchy of Cornwall since 1980, the nine-bedroom property — which came with a large garden and extensive farmland — required modernisation before the then Prince moved in.
His passion for the environment is reflected in eco-friendly features such as biomass boilers and air and ground source heat pumps that provide heating and hot water. The beautiful and completely organic garden is another passion.
A tributary of the Dee runs through the grounds of Birkhall, King Charles’ Scottish home on the Balmoral estate which he inherited from his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
The house has been in the royal family since 1852.
The king is said to be particularly fond of this early 18th century house — so much so that he and Camilla spent their honeymoon there in 2005.
By royal standards, King Charles’ Welsh retreat is really rather modest.
He bought the estate, located just outside the Brecon Beacons, in 2007 and had a former coach house converted into a comfortable farmhouse.
Despite its traditional appearance, it’s highly sustainable, constructed using local materials and incorporating rainwater storage and a wood chip boiler.
Cottages on the estate can be rented as holiday lets.
Read more: How the Royal Family is funded
Queen Elizabeth’s happy place was the vast, privately-owned Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire, where she spent much of her childhood, many summers as sovereign and the last few weeks of her life.
It was purchased by Prince Albert in 1852 and includes a Scottish baronial-style castle comprising two main blocks, each arranged around a courtyard, and 50,000 acres of land, and is said to be less formal than other royal residences.
Just like at Queen Elizabeth’s other former homes, the ground outside Sandringham’s Norwich Gate is carpeted with flowers.
On the site of an Elizabethan mansion, it was rebuilt in the mid-19th century and has been owned by the Royal Family since it was bought by Prince Albert for £220,000 in 1862.
Her Majesty used to spend winters at Sandringham, hosting her extended family for Christmas and going to the local church on Christmas morning.
After retiring from public duties in 2017, the Duke of Edinburgh spent much of his time at Wood Farm, a farmhouse on the estate.
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9. The Palace of Holyroodhouse
The official residence of the monarch in Scotland lies at the bottom of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle.
The late Queen used to stay during Holyrood Week, an annual early summer celebration of Scottish culture and achievement, when she hosted garden parties and other events.
Holyrood Palace, as it’s also know, was built in the 16th century and contains apartments once occupied by Mary Queen of Scots, though it was substantially reconstructed towards the end of the 17th century.
10. Hillsborough Castle
Northern Ireland’s only royal residence, also the official home of the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, dates from the late 18th century and was sold to the British Government in 1925 for the princely sum of about £24,000.
Although visited regularly by the new monarch when he was heir to the throne, his recent visit to the Castle — and indeed the province — was the first by a reigning King in 77 years.