The Private Estates of the Royal Family

The private estates of the Royal Family are the privately owned assets, not to be confused with the Crown Estates which belong to the British monarch as a corporation sole or “the sovereign’s public estate”.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, originally known as Buckingham House, was built as a townhouse on the site of its predecessors, Arlington House, and Goring House, in London for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703. Buckingham House came under royal ownership in 1761 for King George III as a private residence for Queen Charlotte, where it was then known as the Queen’s House.

With the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne in 1837, the Palace became the official London residence of the monarch, where it remains today serving as the administrative headquarters for the crown, and operates as one of the primary sites for hosting state functions.

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Buckingham Palace – Public Domain

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is the official country residence of the crown, located in the historic town of Windsor in the county of Berkshire.

The castle developed from an early motte-and-bailey during the Norman conquest of England, built as part of a defensive ring of fortifications that encircled the city of London.

The castle has remained one of the favoured estates of the monarchy, having hosted King John during the revolt of the English barons, and various rulers of the Plantagenet, Lancaster, Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, and the present (Hanover) Windsor dynasty.

Windsor Castle – Public Domain

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scotland since the 16th century.

The current palace was constructed in 1501 by James IV, but after the Union of Scotland and England in 1707, the palace lost its principal function as a more permanent royal residence and is now mainly used for state functions and ceremonies.

Holyrood Palace – Image Credit : Markus Milligan

Sandringham House

Sandringham House is a large mansion and estate inherited from the Queen’s father, George VI, that now serves as the private home of Queen Elizabeth during the winter months of the year.

The estate came under royal ownership in 1863, when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert purchased Sandringham Hall for their son Albert Edward (Edward VII), as a country home for him and his fiancée, Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Between 1870 and 1900, the house was almost completely rebuilt on the designs of the architect Albert Jenkins Humber, as the original hall was deemed too small by the prince for his lavish engagements.

Sandringham House – Image Credit : Immanuel Giel – CC BY-SA 4.0

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle is another private estate inherited from the Queen’s father, located in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. First recorded as Bouchmorale in 1451, the castle came under royal ownership in 1852 when the estate was purchased by Prince Albert.

Queen Victoria and Albert deemed the original castle too small for the growing Royal family, so the architect William Smith was commissioned to construct a larger structure that was completed in 1856.

Balmoral Castle – Public Domain

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Princess Eugenie, located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London.

The palace was originally a two storey Jacobean mansion built by Sir George Coppin in 1605, but saw extensive alterations during the reign of King George who spent lavishly on new royal apartments,

Kensington Palace – Image Credit : Yvon – CC BY 2.0

Anmer Hall

Anmer Hall is a Georgian country house in the village of Anmer in Norfolk, England, that was gifted by the Queen to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge upon their marriage.

The current house was built in the 18th century and has formed part of the Sandringham estate since 1898.

Anmer Hal – Image Credit : Richard Humphrey – CC BY-SA 2.0

St Jame’s Palace

St Jame’s Palace is one of the principal royal palaces, built by Henry VIII in the 1530s in the City of Westminster in London.

St James’s Palace is still a working palace, and the Royal Court is still formally based there, as well as being the private residence of Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice, and Princess Alexandra.

St Jame’s Palace – Image Credit : Johan Bilien – CC BY-SA 2.0

Gatcombe Park

Gatcombe Park is the private residence of Anne, Princess Royal, located between the villages of Minchinhampton and Avening in Gloucestershire.

The house was built in the late 18th century, but was purchased in 1976 by Queen Elizabeth for Princess Anne and her former husband Captain Mark Phillips.

The Royal Lodge

The Royal Lodge was the Windsor residence of Queen Elizabeth – The Queen Mother from 1952 until her death in 2002, and more recently the official country residence of Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

The Lodge originally dates from the mid-seventeenth century but has gone through several periods of demolition and renovation over the centuries.

Bagshot Park

Bagshot Park is the official residence of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, located on Bagshot Heath in Surrey and Berkshire.

The first house was built in 1631, as one of a series of small lodges designed for King Charles I by Inigo Jones, until it was demolished in 1847. The new manor was constructed in 1870, serving as the principal residence of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, with Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex taking up residency in 1998.

Barnwell Manor

Barnwell Manor is an eighteenth-century manor house, and former residence of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, located near the village of Barnwell in Northamptonshire.

The estate was granted to the Montagu family in 1540 by King Henry VIII, having remained in the family until it came under royal ownership from 1938. Within the grounds of the estate is Barnwell Castle, a motte and bailey castle erected in 1132, that was rebuilt in stone during the reign of King Henry III by the family of Berengar Le Moyne.

Craigowan Lodge

Craigowan Lodge is a rustic stone house, located 1 mile from the main castle on the Balmoral estate. The lodge is sometimes used by the Queen before the end of the tourist season at Balmoral, and was often the residence of Charles and Diana when they visited.

Clarence House

Clarence House is the official residence of Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in London.

The house was originally built between 1825 and 1827, by the Duke of Clarence (who in 1830 became King William I). Following the marriage of the then, Princess Elizabeth to her husband Prince Philip, Clarence House became their official residence until her accession as Queen Elizabeth II, where she moved to Buckingham Palace.

Highgrove House

Highgrove House is the family residence of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, situated southwest of Tetbury in Gloucestershire, England.

Highgrove House was built in 1796 by John Paul, but changed owners several times until the estate was purchased by the Duchy of Cornwall (Prince Charles) in 1980.

Frogmore Cottage

Frogmore Cottage was built as a country retreat on the Frogmore Estate in Windsor, for Queen Charlotte and her daughters in 1901.

In more recent years the cottage was the private residence of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as well as currently being occupied by Princess Eugenie and her husband.


Llwynywermod is the Welsh home of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in Llandovery, Myddfai. The three-bedroom farmhouse was purchased by the Duchy of Cornwall in 2006, to serve as the official residence for the Duke in Wales.

Hillsborough Castle

Hillsborough Castle in the village of Hillsborough, north-west County Down serves as the monarch’s official residence in Northern Ireland, as well as the residence of the Secretary of State.

Built during the 18th century for the Hill Family, the Georgian country house was purchased by the British Government in 1922 to be the seat of the Governor of Northern Ireland until the position was abolished.


Birkhall is a stately home, generally used by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on the Balmoral Estate in Scotland. First built in 1715, Birkhall came under royal ownership when it was purchased by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1849 for their son Albert Edward (Edward VII).

Header Image – Windsor Castle – Image Credit : John Mason – CC BY 2.0

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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