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For nearly a millennium, Windsor Castle has been the home of the British royal family and is the oldest inhabited castle in the world. Queen Elizabeth II, during her 70-year reign as Britain’s longest-serving monarch, used the castle as one of her official residences. Outside of living quarters, Windsor Castle also has been used for ceremonial purposes, such as hosting heads of state.
After the queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday, her coffin was transferred to St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. The funeral service was attended by members of the royal family, including King Charles III and Prince William. The queen’s coffin was lowered into the Royal Vault to rest alongside her late husband, Prince Philip, her father, King George VI, and her mother.
Growing up as a young child, the queen and her sister Princess Margaret spent much of World War II at Windsor, guarded by the British Army. The castle has more than 1,000 rooms and was frequently visited by the queen during the weekends.
What is the history of the castle?
The castle was first built under the reign of King William the Conqueror, who chose the site for the fortress on the edge of a Saxon hunting ground. Construction on Windsor began in 1070 after the Norman conquest but was not completed until 1086. Originally, the king intended the castle to act as a defensive mechanism against attacks on London before later transfiguring it into an official residency, according to the Royal Collection Trust.
Through the years, other monarchs added more domestic quarters to the castle to eventually transform it from a military outpost to one more befitting of the royal family. King Henry I in 1110 removed Windsor’s timber structures and replaced them with stone. However, Henry III made the most additions by rebuilding and designing the royal apartments. Approximately 100 years later, under King Edward III, the castle was officially transferred from a military post into a gothic palace with pointed arches.
Windsor Castle suffered its most damaging event since its construction over 900 years ago, with the fire on November 20, 1992. The blaze started in Queen Victoria’s chapel before spreading towards the palace roofs and destroying the ceiling above St George’s Hall. The state dining room and crimson drawing room were also destroyed. Repairs reportedly cost more than £37million and took five years to complete.
Who owns Windsor Castle?
After the death of the queen, King Charles III immediately became the ruling monarch of the United Kingdom and inherited Windsor Castle under the ownership of the crown.
As sovereign, Charles has ownership not only of Windsor but all other lands and holding controlled by the monarchy under the reign of the late her majesty.
Moreover, under British law, King Charles does not have to pay an inheritance tax or his inherited 45,000-acre Duchy of Lancaster property valued at $750 million. The total assets of the Crown Estate are estimated to be more than $30 billion.
Can you visit Windsor?
Windsor Castle is open to the public five days a week during regular business hours but is closed every Tuesday and Wednesday.
However, after the death of the queen, the castle will remain closed until the end of September 2022.