Windsor Castle, located in Windsor – Berkshire, is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world and the Official Residence of Her Majesty The Queen. Its rich history spans almost 1000 years. Dating back to the time of William the Conqueror, is the oldest in continuous occupation. The castle’s floor area is about 45,000 square metres (480,000 sq ft).
Together with Buckingham Palace in London and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, it is one of the three principal official residences of the British monarch. Queen Elizabeth II spends many weekends in the year at the castle, using it for both state and private entertaining. Her other two residences, Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle, are the Royal Family’s private homes.
Most of the Kings and Queens of England, later Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom, have had a direct influence on the construction and evolution of the castle, which has been their garrison fortress, home, official palace, and sometimes their prison. Chronologically the history of the castle can be traced through the reigns of the monarchs who have occupied it. When the country has been at peace, the castle has been expanded by the addition of large and grand apartments, but when the country has been at war, the castle has been more heavily fortified. This pattern continues to the present day
The Queen uses the Castle both as a private home, where she usually spends the weekend, and as a Royal residence at which she undertakes certain formal duties.
Every year The Queen takes up official residence in Windsor Castle for a month over Easter (March-April), known as Easter Court. During that time The Queen hosts occasional ‘dine and sleeps’ events for guests, including politicians and public figures.
The Castle covers an area of about 5 hectares (13 acres) and contains:
· Magnificent State Apartments furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection
· St George’s Chapel (one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in England and the burial place of 10 monarchs)
· Queen Mary’s Dolls House, a masterpiece in miniature
· The Drawings Gallery featuring an exhibition
Windsor Castle is a very busy visitor attraction . Many parts of the Castle are open to the public, including the precincts, the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s famous dolls’ house, St George’s Chapel, and the Albert Memorial Chapel.
Visitors can marvel at St George’s Chapel, which was founded by Edward IV back in 1475 and is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the country. Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones were married there in June 1999.
When The Queen is in official residence, Changing the Guard provides a colorful spectacle in the quadrangle.