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Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are opening the doors of their home to the public for one month as they vacation at Birkhall.
Built in 1825, Clarence House is one of the last remaining aristocratic townhouses in London. The four-story home was initially built for King George III's third son, Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence. Notable designer John Nash took on the project, designing each room to perfection.
The Prince of Wales has called Clarence House home since 2002. Before that, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother resided in the landmark for fifty years, while Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip moved in following their 1947 nuptials. Prince William and Prince Harry have also resided in Clarence House.
Clarence House over the years
Clarence House over the years
Clarence House, Town Residence Of The Duke And Duchess Of Edinburgh (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
View of Clarence Terrace, Regent's Park, Marylebone, London, 1827; with figures and a horse drawn carriage in the street. (Photo by Guildhall Library & Art Gallery/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
CANADA - CIRCA 1900: Toronto Star reporter Val Sears walks through the grounds of Clarence House with the Queen Mother. (Photo by Toronto Star Archives/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Clarence House', c1902. Artist: Unknown. (Photo by Print Collector/Getty Images)
The garden of Clarence House in London, circa 1950. The house was built in 1825-27 by John Nash for the Duke of Clarence, later King William IV. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
PA NEWS PHOTO 19/11/51 THE PRINCE OF WALES ON THE WALL OF CLARENCE HOUSE, LONDON WATCHES THE ROYAL PROCESSION AS THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH'S BIRTHDAY TOOK PLACE ON HORSE GUARDS PARADE, LONDON DURING THE TROOPING OF THE COLOUR CEREMONY. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
1951: Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh with their two children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne in the grounds of Clarence House, London. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
10th August 1951: Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, sitting at his desk at Clarence House. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
4th August 1978: Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (1900 - 2002) waves to the crowds who have gathered outside Clarence House, her London home, to wish her a happy 78th birthday. (Photo by Peter Cade/Central Press/Getty Images)
The Royal family and The Queen Mother (3rd left) celebrate her 76th birthday in the grounds of Clarence House, London, with L-R: Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Andrew, The Queen, Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, Princess Margaret and her son Viscount Linley. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (1900 - 2002), waves to the crowd who have gathered outside Clarence House, her London home, to wish her a happy 78th birthday, UK, 4th August 1978. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
Postman Jim Cuffy (l) hands over some of the Queen Mother's birthday mail at the door of Clarence House early this morning, on her 80th birthday. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - 1982: Exterior of Clarence House, home of the Prince of Wales. (Photo by Joe Schilling/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Relï¿½e de la garde dans Clarence House, l'ancienne rï¿½idence de la Reine et aujourd'hui celle du Prince Charles. Londres, le 28 fï¿½rier 1981, Royaume-Uni. (Photo by Bertrand LAFORET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
The Queen Mother pictured at Clarence House on presentation of a sculpture of herself by Fiore de Henriquez on 23 March, 1988 (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
GREAT BRITAIN - AUGUST 04: Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen Mother and Prince William outside Clarence House on the Queen Mother's 94th birthday, Behind them is Timothy Laurence (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Members of the Royal Family walk back to Clarence House on a carpet of poppies dropped by a Lancaster bomber as part of the VJ Day 50th Anniversary celebrations. From L: Prince William, The Prince of Wales, Prince Harry and DIana Princess of Wales. From R: The Duke of York and Prince Edward. (Photo by Neil Munns - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Queen Mother with (l) Lord Boston, Charles Kennedy, William Hague, Margaret Beckett, PM Tony Blair, Betty Boothroyd, Lord Strathclyde, Lord Craig, Lord Irvine, Archbishop Carey, Lady Jay, and Lord Rodgers. * The Queen Mother was congratulated by both houses of Parliament, in the garden of Clarence House, on her coming 100th birthday. (Photo by John Stillwell - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 02: A Guardsman Holding His Rifle Outside Clarence House. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
400806 08: (FILE PHOTO) Britains Princess Margaret Rose, younger daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and sister of Queen Elizabeth II, rides in a limousine on her way to Clarence House October 17, 1955 in London. Princess Margaret died peacefully in her sleep at 1:30 a.m. EST at the King Edward VII Hospital in London February 9, 2002, announced Buckingham Palace. (Photo by Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 08: Prince Charles Talks To Thomas Willis, A Four Year Old Leukaemeia Sufferer, After He Helped Decorate The Christmas Tree At Clarence House. (Photo by Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images)
LONDON - FEBRUARY 21: HRH Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles are seen as they meet a North Pole expedition team at Clarence House on February 21, 2005 in London. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
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Each tenant has made considerable renovations to the historic home, altering the color schemes with new textiles and pieces of artwork from the Royal Collection. Prince Charles, who has an extensive art collection of his own, has decorated the home with many of his personal pieces. Mantles and walls are also decorated with personal pictures of the royal family, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
Curious visitors can sign up for a 45-minute tour, which will take them to five rooms on the ground floor, where Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla host official engagements. Guests will be able to see the Lancaster Room, the Morning Room and the library, which was used by The Queen Mother for intimate dinners when she lived in the house. The dining room and the garden room -- which was created from the two rooms where Princess Margaret lived in before her marriage -- are also included on the tour.
The quarters on display will "remain recognizably" as they were in Queen Elizabeth's time, with furniture and art being returned to their former positions. Details of past exhibits include ornate pedestals and furniture from the 1700s, photographs from the 1950s, an 18th century French vase and personal photographs of the royal family.
RELATED: Royal family residences
Royal family residences
Royal family residences
We'll start at Buckingham Palace, the Queen's London home. Situated by St. James's Park, Buckingham Palace has been the monarch's official London residence since 1837. It has 775 rooms, including 52 bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh live here, along with The Duke of York, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Highlights at Buckingham Palace include the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place most days at 11:00 a.m., and the State Rooms that are open to the public every summer. Plus, there's a rumor that the ghost of a monk in a brown cloak haunts the back terrace!
Windsor Castle, situated just outside London, is the Queen's weekend retreat. It's the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. Over 39 monarchs have used Windsor Castle as their residence. St George's Chapel is part of the castle and is the venue for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018.
The castle is open all year round—it has a world-famous Royal dollhouse!—and there are also talks, performances, and activities for kids.
In 1992, a fire at the castle caused over $50,000,000 in damage.
Sandringham House in Norfolk is one of the Queen's private residences. It was brought into the family in 1862 by the future Edward VII, although a fire in 1891 destroyed much of the original building. It's been passed down through the family into the Queen's ownership. The house itself stands within nearly 20,000 acres, with 60 acres of gardens. The rest is a park and uncultivated land, which is freely open to the public every day of the year.
The British royal family spends Christmas at Sandringham, traditionally walking to church on Christmas morning and meeting the local people.
Anmer Hall, a private residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is also part of the Sandringham estate.
Who wouldn't love to live in their own Scottish castle? Balmoral Castle is another of the Queen's private residences, situated in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Bought by Prince Albert as a gift for Queen Victoria in 1852, they built a new castle before demolishing the old one. Other royal residences on the grounds are: Birkhall (a residence of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall), Craigowan Lodge, and Delnadamph Lodge.
There are vacation cottages to rent on the estate, which also boasts a golf course and offers Landrover safaris of the surrounding countryside. But watch out for the ghost of John Brown, Queen Victoria's servant, who is said to roam the grounds at night wearing a kilt. (Don't miss these other royal ghosts still haunting Britain today!)
Owned by the Crown, Clarence House was home to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother for more 50 years. Designed by John Nash in 1825-27, it was built for George III's son Clarence, hence its name. But it's since undergone extensive remodeling to make it suitable for modern living.
Clarence House is attached to St. James's Palace and the two residences share the same gardens. Although other members of the British royal family visit, Clarence House is the official London residence of the Prince of Wales.
Originally bought by William III in 1689, Kensington Palace was the main residence for the British royal family until Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria was born and grew up here, and it was also Princess Diana's home.
Kensington Palace belongs to the Crown Estate, and is currently the official home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (along with Prince George and Princess Charlotte of course!), as well as Prince Harry. Historic parts of the building are open to the public, and the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection is housed here.
St. James's Palace
St James's Palace also belongs to the Crown, and has been a residence for the British royal family for more than 300 years. It was originally built by Henry VIII in 1531-36 and has been used continuously since then. Queen Victoria's wedding took place here.
On the death of a monarch, the Accession Council meets at St. James's Palace, and the official announcement of the new sovereign is also made from here. It's currently home to Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra, when she's in London. The Princess Royal and her husband Sir Timothy Laurence also live here—their country residence is Gatcombe Park.
St James's Palace also hosts more than 100 charity events every year.
Palace of Holyrood House
Balmoral Castle is the Queen's private residence, but when she's in Scotland on an official visit, she stays at the Palace of Holyrood House. Situated at the end of Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile, it was founded first as a monastery in 1128. Rebuilt as a palace by James IV in 1501, this building has been the official residence of the monarchy in Scotland ever since.
Mary Queen of Scots lived most of her life here and it was the scene of the famous murder of David Rizzio, her private secretary, in her bedroom. Seven months pregnant, Mary witnessed the murder, and it's said that to this day, the blood stains can't be removed from the floor.
The Queen hosts around 4,000 visitors during the annual Holyrood Week in June, and the palace is open to the public all year round.
When visiting Northern Ireland, the British royal family stays at Hillsborough Castle in County Down. It's also the residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. But its name is misleading! It's actually a Georgian country house built in the 18th century—the British government only bought it in 1922. Hillsborough Castle was the venue for several important negotiations during The Troubles, and it was here that the historic Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed, leading eventually to peace in Northern Ireland after decades of conflict.
Prince Charles is also Duke of Cornwall, so properties owned by the Duchy of Cornwall are currently used by him. He first moved into Highgrove House in Gloucestershire in 1980, and has transformed the house and gardens into a model of sustainability. The gardens are open to the public on selected dates.
There's a reed bed sewage system, a collection of rare trees and plants, and also a heritage seed project on site to preserve rare seeds for future generations. There are solar lights, energy-saving bulbs, a composting system, and the house is warmed using heat pumps.
The Duchy of Cornwall also owns two other properties for Prince Charles to use. Tamarisk is on the beautiful island of St. Mary's, one of the five inhabited islands in the Isles of Scilly. There are over 200 islands in the Scillies chain altogether, and the Duchy of Cornwall owns most of the land and around one-third of the houses. Tamarisk House is Prince Charles' official residence when he's in the Scillies, and when in Wales, the Prince of Wales' residence is Llwynywermod in Carmarthenshire.
The Scilly Isles are famous for their natural beauty and rare bird life. The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust manages the wildlife on the island. Their annual rent to the Duchy of Cornwall is one daffodil!
Birkhall, situated within the grounds of Balmoral Castle, is a private residence of the Prince of Wales. Built in 1715, it became Queen Victoria's when Prince Albert gifted her the Balmoral estate in 1849. It's since been passed through the family to the Queen Mother and then Queen Elizabeth in 2002.
The estate is famous for its beautiful scenery and country walks, as well as fishing and hunting. It's a popular holiday haunt for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Within the grounds, there's a beautiful thatched playhouse, built for Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose when they were small, and since enjoyed by all the royal children.
Royal Lodge Windsor
Royal Lodge, Windsor (situated in Windsor Great Park), is leased by the Duke of York from the Crown, and was also home to the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie before they moved into St. James's Palace. This property also has a playhouse, built for Queen Elizabeth when she was six years old. Created by Welsh craftsmen, and given a Welsh name (Y Bwthyn Bach or The Little Cottage), the house has electricity and running water, as well as a gas stove.
Wren House is part of Kensington Palace. It stands a little to the north of the main palace and overlooks a beautiful walled garden. It's currently home to the Duke and Duchess of Kent.
Bagshot Park was built within Windsor Great Park, and is leased from the Crown. It was built in 1879 as the main residence of Prince Arthur, Queen Victoria's son, and the design was influenced by Indian culture. Queen Victoria was also Empress of India at the time. Since 1998, the Earl of Wessex has leased Bagshot Park and has overseen extensive renovations on the property. It's now the official residence of the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Thatched House Lodge
Thatched House Lodge, in Richmond Park, is the residence of the Queen's cousin, Princess Alexandra. It's situated in one of the royal parks famous for its beautiful surroundings including wild deer, like those in this picture, taken in Richmond Park. Built in the 17th century, it also has a thatched summerhouse, a gardener's cottage, stables, and gardens.