Who owns Windsor Castle? History of the royal residence where Queen Elizabeth II is buried

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For nearly a thousand years, Windsor Castle has been home to the British royal family and is the oldest inhabited castle in the world. During her 70-year reign as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II used the castle service as one of her official residences. Outside of the living quarters, Windsor Castle was also used for ceremonial purposes such as hosting heads of state.

After the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday, her coffin was taken to St George’s Chapel in Windsor. The funeral was attended by members of the royal family, including King Charles III and Prince William. The Queen’s coffin has been 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 in Windsor guarded by the British Army. The castle has more than 1,000 rooms and the Queen often visits it on weekends.

What is the history of the castle?

The castle was first built during the reign of King William the Conqueror who chose the site of the castle on the edge of a Saxon hunting ground. Construction at Windsor began in 1070 after the Norman conquest but was not completed until 1086. Originally, the king intended the castle to serve as a defensive mechanism against attacks on London before it was later converted into an official residence, according to the Royal Collection Trust.

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The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II was taken from Westminster Abbey to Windsor Castle after her funeral on Monday.
(Steve Parsons/PA via AP)

Over the years, other kings added more local neighborhoods to the castle to eventually convert it from a military outpost to another befitting a royal family. In 1110, King Henry I removed the wooden structures at Windsor and replaced them with stone. However, Henry III made most of the additions by rebuilding and designing the royal apartments. After nearly 100 years during the reign of King Edward III, the castle was officially moved from a military outpost to a Gothic palace with pointed arches.

Windsor Castle experienced its most dangerous event since it was built more than 900 years ago by the fire of November 20, 1992. The fire started in Queen Victoria Chapel before spreading towards the roofs of the palace and destroying the roof over St George’s Hall. The government dining room and the crimson drawing room were also destroyed. The repairs reportedly cost more than £37m and took five years to complete.

Who owns Windsor Castle?

After the Queen’s death, King Charles III immediately became the ruling monarch of the United Kingdom and inherited Windsor Castle under the ownership of the Crown.

Commemorating Queen Elizabeth II as King Charles III ascending the British throne

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visited Windsor Castle during seven decades of marriage.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visited Windsor Castle during seven decades of marriage.
(Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)

As Sovereign, Charles owns not only the estate of Windsor, but all other lands controlled by the monarchy during the reign of her late Majesty.

Furthermore, under British law, King Charles does not have to pay inheritance tax or the 45,000-acre Duchy of Lancaster inherited property valued at $750. The Crown Estate’s total assets are estimated at more than $30 billion.

Can you visit Windsor?

Windsor Castle during normal business hours is open to the public five days a week but is closed every Tuesday and Wednesday.

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However, after the death of the Queen, the castle will remain closed until the end of September 2022.

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