With a new royal baby on the scene, the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have properly made their home in Windsor.
Their residence, Frogmore House, is rarely open to the public, so the chances of spotting the new arrival are fairly slim, but nearby Windsor Castle remains a major attraction for anyone wanting a glimpse into the lives of Britain’s royals.
The oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, Windsor is an official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, who spends most of her weekends there. While you’re unlikely to spot the Queen strolling down the hallways in her housecoat, it’s easy to tell whether she’s at home – the Royal Standard flag flies from the Round Tower whenever she’s in residence.
According to royal officials, Harry and Markle picked the venue because Windsor Castle is “a special place for the two of them.”
Royal places to visit in Britain
The castle itself dates back to around 1070, when William the Conqueror chose the land and construction began. It has seen many changes since that time, with various royals making adjustments over the years – Edward III made costly renovations in the 14th century, and extensive restorations were undertaken following a devastating fire in 1992.
When you travel here, you should plan on spending around to two to three hours within the castle, making your way between the various sections open to the public.
The main event
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s ceremony took place in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle’s Gothic place of worship which dates back to the 14th century.
The spectacular St George’s is also the final resting place of 10 of Britain’s monarchs, including Henry VIII.
If you want to see where the wedding vows were exchanged, you’ll be pleased that marveling at St George’s Chapel is included in a Windsor Castle admission ticket. That said, keep an eye on the Windsor Castle website to make sure the chapel isn’t closed for events on your chosen day.
Most visitors make a beeline for Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, an extraordinarily intricate affair with electric lights, hot and cold running water and even a flushing toilet.
The State Apartments are absurdly luxurious, from the vaulted carved ceilings to the Rembrandt hanging on the wall (note that the Semi-State Rooms are only open to the public between September and March).
As the castle is still very much in use, certain areas may be closed throughout the year, so keep an eye on the website, where most closures are detailed. If your heart is set on seeing the Changing of the Guard, you’ll need to be well within the grounds by the time it starts at 11 a.m. (Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays in April 2018, weather permitting).
However, if that’s not a priority, you might want to arrive a little later. The castle can get extraordinarily busy, particularly during the summer months, and visiting in the afternoon means the crowds will have diminished somewhat.
Instead, use the morning to explore The Long Walk, a 3-mile stretch in the beautiful Windsor Great Park where you’ll find the most impressive view of the castle (the entrance is through Cambridge Gate)
It’s worth making time to explore Windsor, a picturesque English town. You can even map the footsteps of Markle and Harry, who took a carriage procession through Windsor post-ceremony.
Tickets to the castle in 2018 cost £21.20 ($29), or £11.70 ($16) when the State Apartments are closed, and include a multi-media guide (introduced by Prince Charles, no less). Buy tickets in advance online and you’ll likely avoid the larger line at the ticket desk.
Windsor is easy to get to from London by train – routes from Paddington arrive at Windsor & Eton Central (transferring in Slough), and into Windsor & Eton Riverside from Waterloo (the castle is a 10-minute walk away).