Won over by Windsor
King’s change of heart over castle he felt was spoiled by aircraft noise
HE has never had a strong desire to live at Windsor Castle, largely because of the noise of aircraft flying overhead to Heathrow.
But the King appears to have had a change of heart in recent months and is busy putting his unique stamp on the late Queen’s Berkshire estate.
Workmen have been seen sprucing up Queen Elizabeth’s private apartments, while staff have been putting some of her belongings in storage and bringing in many of the new monarch’s favourite pieces of art and antiques.
In the grounds, Charles, 74 – who was made Ranger of Windsor Great Park last November – has also been expanding his environmental credentials.
Electric car charging points are being installed at several spots on the Windsor estate and thousands of new saplings planted.
Windsor, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, has been the home of English kings and queens for almost 1,000 years.
Queen Elizabeth loved it so much she spent most weekends there in her apartments in the Upper Ward.
The apartments are private and rarely seen by the public, although they became more familiar when the late sovereign spent more time at Windsor as she got older.
While the entire Royal Family love Windsor, King Charles has always preferred the tranquillity of Highgrove, the Gloucestershire home he purchased in 1980. He has poured heart and soul into its gardens and estate, which are now a visitor attraction in their own right and have raised more than £7million for charity so far.
However, multiple sources said the King has started spending more time at Windsor. This began before his mother died, when he started staying the night before conducting investitures in order to spend quality time with her.
Since last September his visits have increased in frequency and length. He often now stays two or three nights a week and conducts an increasing amount of official business from the castle as Buckingham Palace is still undergoing extensive renovations.
Although their staff have largely moved over to the monarch’s official residence, he and the Queen Consort actually still live across The Mall at Clarence House.
King Charles is still using his existing suite at Windsor Castle but workmen have been seen in the late Queen’s apartments, suggesting he may take them over sooner rather than later. And the sad business of moving out the late Queen’s belongings has begun. ‘The King is making the castle more to his taste, as would be expected, and bringing in some of his favourite pieces of art and possessions to make it feel more homely,’ a source said.
Now that the Prince and Princess of Wales have moved to Windsor, where they have taken over Adelaide Cottage during term time, Charles will be able to see his grandchildren more.
Sources say the plan has always been for William and Kate to move into the castle, but the couple seem happy where they are. And there is the possibility of moving into Royal Lodge if Prince Andrew vacates it, as is the King’s plan.
He is, however, resisting the suggestion that he move into Frogmore Cottage when Harry and Meghan are evicted by early summer. He considers it a ‘downgrade’ from the 30-room Royal Lodge.
Despite this, Andrew has told friends he fears he will be unable to afford its upkeep if the King cuts his £250,000-a-year grant.
But yesterday his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson said she was ‘in a position where I can support him’, although the matter of the move from Royal Lodge is ‘between the duke and the King’.