Windsor Castle, Windsor SL4 1NJ, United Kingdom
Windsor Castle, the biggest occupied castle in the world, has been a royal residence and stronghold for more than 900 years, and it continues to function as a working palace to this day.
The late Queen frequently hosted foreign heads of state on State Visits at Windsor Castle. Horse-drawn carriages carrying visiting foreign heads of state enter Windsor Castle through the George IV Gateway and into the Upper Ward quadrangle, where a military guard of honour has been assembled.
St. George’s Hall is 55.5 metres long and 9 metres broad, and it is here that the annual State Banquet is held, with a table large enough to accommodate 160 diners.
St. George’s Chapel
St. George’s Chapel is still a place of worship, with regular services available to the public. The Chapel is a Royal Peculiar, which means it is not under the jurisdiction of a bishop or archbishop but instead has a direct line of obedience to the Sovereign.
The Chapel and the rest of the College of St. George (including a school for 400 children and St. George’s House, a consulting centre) are run independently from the Royal Household by the Dean and Canons of Windsor, along with their officers and personnel.
In addition to Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle’s 2018 wedding and Princess Eugenie and Mr. Jack Brooksbank’s 2018 wedding, many more Royal weddings have taken place in St. George’s Chapel. After the wedding of the then-Prince of Wales and the then-Duchess of Cornwall in 2005, a prayer service of dedication was performed in the Chapel.
Royal funerals have been held there, including those of Queen Elizabeth II, the late Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Margaret, and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. Princess Margaret, the Queen’s younger daughter, is buried alongside her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, in the Chapel Royal.
The history of the castle
Windsor Castle has been continually occupied by monarchs for nearly a millennium, throughout which time it has been renovated and expanded. During more peaceful times, other great builders transformed the Castle into a luxurious palace fit for a king.
Located on the edge of a Saxon hunting ground and high above the River Thames, William the Conqueror choose the location. Designed to protect the western approaches to London, it was a day’s march away from the Tower of London.
The current castle’s outer walls are located in the exact same spot as the ones William the Conqueror constructed in the 1070s. The Round Tower and the Upper Ward, where kings and queens have lived in seclusion since the 1400s, are located on a central hill that is also mediaeval in appearance.
In the 1170s, Henry II had the Round Tower, the walls of the Upper and most of the Lower Ward, and the Royal apartments in the Upper Ward reconstructed, this time out of stone instead of wood.
Edward III, who was born at Windsor, enlarged the castle in the 1360s. For his newly formed Order of the Garter, he built the massive St. George’s Hall. Edward IV, Henry VI, Henry VIII, Charles I, George III, George IV, William IV, Edward VII, George V, and George VI are all buried in the chapel.
During the English Civil War, Parliamentarian Colonel John Venn conquered the Castle in 1642 and used it as his command centre. Starting in 1643, the Castle served as a jail for the duration of the Wars.
Before his trial and execution in London in 1648, Charles I was detained there. His body was returned to be buried in St. George’s Chapel despite a snowstorm. As Lord Protector beginning in 1653, Oliver Cromwell made it one of his official residences after taking it over in 1650.
After the Restoration, Charles II’s goal was to make the Castle look as grand as possible. In the 1670s, he commissioned a new set of State Apartments from the talents of architects Hugh May and Antonio Verrio, as well as those of the renowned woodcarver Grinling Gibbons.
How to get to Windsor Castle
Taking the train from London Paddington Station to Windsor Central Station will get you to Windsor Castle the quickest out of the city. Paddington Station is easily accessible from anywhere in Central London with to its connections to the Circle, Bakerloo, District, and Hammersmith & City lines.