29 incredibly luxurious royal homes
It’s widely known that the extravagant Buckingham Palace is home to the Queen of England, but where do the rest of the royals reside? One of the perks of being royal is that you don’t necessarily have to choose between having an elegant castle and a lavish farmhouse. When it comes to housing, leave it to the royal family to have something for everyone…and then some!
1. Althorp House
Known for its exquisite private art and furniture collections, the Althorp House has been home to several generations of one of Britain’s most aristocratic families since 1508. Several generations of Spencers, including the beloved Princess Diana, were born and raised in this beautiful countryside estate covering 13,000 acres of land in Northamptonshire, Warwick, and Norfolk.
As one could imagine, the upkeep for a world-renowned mansion this lavish doesn’t come cheap. In the 1980s, Althorp’s interior design was remodeled costing the Spencer family well over $2 million. Besides hosting an annual Food and Drink Festival, the estate is open to the public in July and August every year at a pretty affordable rate. If that’s not enough to satisfy your fix, keep an eye out: Prince Earl has been known to open up the home a few times a year to overnight guests willing to pay upwards of $25,000 per night.
2. Osborne House
This 342-acre estate in East Cowes, Isle of Wright was originally purchased by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1845 as a summer vacation home. After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, the house was handed over to the state, and a few of the rooms were used as a private museum in honor of the late Queen.
In 2018, Osborne Cottage went on the market for $701,000, a listed price much lower than you might expect for a home with royal roots. However, because Queen Victoria died here, some people have speculated whether or not the rather cheap price for this cottage has anything to do with ghosts. Adventure-seekers can see for themselves if they dare: Osborne Cottage is open to the public for tours.
3. Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace was originally built in 1605 in the village of Kensington and has been an official royal residence since the 17th century. Currently, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent all live in the classically glamorous palace.
That’s a lot of royals under one roof, so it’s a good thing that the palace is comprised of multiple cottages. When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry lived there, their two-bedroom suite alone was 1,300 square feet, while Prince William and Kate Middleton’s portion of the palace boasted 19 bedrooms. The renovations to this grandiose palace took two years to complete, and a shiny $13.5 million.
4. Kate Middleton’s childhood home
Before growing up and moving into their chic bachelorette pad, Pippa and Kate Middleton were young children living in a Victorian-style, four-bedroom house that their parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, purchased for $38,000. Once the Middletons’ party supplies business gained momentum, the couple was able to sell their house for $177,000, earning a 355% profit.
The success of the business, coupled with the profit from selling their house, allowed them to purchase a new home, Oak Acre, for $280,000. Kate recalls having a blue and cream colored room in this charming, five-bedroom country house. Oak Acre is only accessible through the use of a private roadway, which worked out well for the family later in life.
5. The Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Palace of Holyroodhouse was first founded in Edinburgh in 1128 as an Augustinian Monastery and is said to be named after a cross known as “Holy Rood” or “Black Rood.” This Scottish palace has been an official royal residence since the 16th century, hosting various members of the royal family whenever they need to make a trip to the region.
Though the palace is generally open to the public all year round, it will close and serve as a residence whenever prominent guests or royal family members are present. Every year, the Queen spends a week at Holyroodhouse, famously known as “Holyrood week,” and throws a grand garden party. Over 8,000 Scottish people of all ages and walks of life are welcomed to come enjoy a beautiful afternoon with her in the gardens to celebrate everything Scottish.
6. Hillsborough Castle
This 100-acre royal dwelling located in Northern Ireland is the residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II. Other members of the royal family stay on the property whenever they visit the area and it is also used to accommodate prestigious international guests. Hillsborough Castle is not truly a castle, but rather an 18th-century country house that forms one side of a shipshape Georgian square. It’s famous for hosting peace talks and superb royal garden parties.
The property was closed for five years in order to carry out an extensive $20 million renovation project and finally reopened in April 2019. The goal was to turn the house into a place that people of all ages could engage with and enjoy. At the grand re-opening, the prince paid tribute to the over 700 contractors and craftspeople who helped make this vision a reality.
7. Highgrove House
Highgrove House is the family home of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in Gloucestershire, England. The house was built in the late 1700s as a rectangular, detached three-story building composed of ashlar blocks. This royal mansion is complete with four reception rooms, nine bedrooms, a wing for staff accommodation, as well as a nursery wing. Highgrove House was remodeled in 1987 to reflect Prince Charles’s environmental values and beliefs.
Some of the home’s most impressive environmental-inspired features include solar panels covering the farms, a wood chip boiler to provide heating, and a natural sewage system to filter waste. This property is well-known for its vast and majestic gardens, which attract 30,000 visitors a year.
8. Gatcombe Park
One of the things that sets Gatcombe Park apart from the rest of the royal properties is that it didn’t get snatched up by a royal owner until 1976. Queen Elizabeth, possibly one of the best gift-givers of all time, bought the house as a wedding gift for her daughter, Princess Anne.
Today, this 730-acre property is a working farm with a variety of livestock. The estate is also lived in by Zara Phillips, her multiple horses, and her husband Mike Tindall. Gatcombe Park is well-known for hosting the Festival of British Eventing every year in the summer, attracting top horse-riding athletes and 40,000 paying onlookers.
9. Frogmore House
Dubbed “Frogmore” in reference to the large quantities of frogs that resided near the River Thames, Frogmore House is celebrated for its gorgeous landscape consisting of over 4,000 trees and shrubs. George III originally purchased the house in 1792 as a gift for his wife, Queen Charlotte. It has since stayed in the family and encompasses Frogmore Cottage, where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — now live together.
Although the couple was happy to move into this historical royal property, the 17th-century mansion was due for some family-friendly renovations to welcome baby Archie. While the original building featured 10 bedrooms divided up into five separate apartments, the new home will be a single-family home complete with child-proofed windows, a bedroom for Meghan Markle’s mother, and a large yoga room.
10. Craigowan Lodge
The royal family and their favorite VIP members must have somewhere to stay in the summer months while the rest of the Balmoral Estate is being prepared for tourists, and that’s where Craigowan Lodge comes in. This seven-bedroom luxurious stone lodge is located just one mile from the rest of the castle and houses many members of the royal family every summer, including The Queen.
It was told in 2008 in the obituary of Michael Andreevich Romanoff, the highest-ranking member of the Russian imperial family, that his family spent most of World War II at Craigowan Lodge. This lodge was also one of Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ favorite vacation destinations.
11. Clarence House
Known to be one of London’s last aristocratic town-homes, Clarence House was built between 1825 and 1827. This attachment to St. James’s Palace is the official residence of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Prince William and Prince Harry also spent some time living in this white, four-story, stucco townhome.
Some of the house’s most charming features are a part of the Queen Mother’s collection, which includes a variety of 20th-century artwork and classic Chinese porcelain displayed according to her layout. The Clarence House closed in 2019 for building maintenance and is set to reopen for the public in the summer of 2020.
12. Buckingham Palace
There are few things in the world as grandiose and ritzy as Buckingham Palace. Located in the City of Westminster, Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of the Queen of England since 1837, when Queen Victoria took the throne. This lavish estate is decked out with a 19th-century interior and has a total of 775 rooms.
The palace is open to the public for 10 weeks each year during the summer, and on select dates during spring and winter. Due to the massive nature of arguably the most important royal residence, tourists have much to see at the Buckingham Palace, including London’s largest garden. While Queen Elizabeth II’s net worth is estimated to be around $530 million, reports claim that Buckingham Palace is worth anywhere between $2 billion and $5 billion.
13. Birch Hall
Originally built in 1740, the Queen purchased Birch Hall for a whopping $6.1 million for her two granddaughters, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, to live in with their mother, the Duchess of York, in 1997. This expensive and lavish gift was actually part of a divorce settlement, but the Duchess turned it down because she believed that it would ultimately be too pricey to preserve.
Birch Hall — sprawled out over 5 acres of land and complete with seven bedrooms, four bathrooms, and five living spaces — was later sold for $2.2 million. The money collected from the sale of the estate went into a fund for both Princesses, who were just nine and 10 years old at the time. Later on, the new owners of the home listed it for triple the price.
14. Balmoral Castle
Complete with gardens, gift shops, cafes, and plenty to see for people of all ages, Balmoral Castle is one of Scotland’s most popular vacation destinations This royal estate was built in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1852 after the original house was deemed too small for the royal family.
For those interested in spending time at this beautiful property, Balmoral Castle is open to the public in the summer months. In 2014 alone, the estate attracted approximately 70,000 tourists during a period of just a few months. For those who desire to take their tour of this royal property at a faster pace, Balmoral Castle hosts RunBalmoral every year, a 3-day running festival that raises money for a variety of charities.
15. Birkhall Estate
Birkhall was built in 1715, alongside the River Muick in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Prince Albert and Queen Victoria came into this 53,000 acre estate as a segment of the Balmoral Castle Estate and then gifted it to their oldest son, Prince Edward. Eventually, Queen Victoria bought back the property in 1884 so that her staff and extended family would have a place to stay.
After being passed around by a number of royal family members, Prince Charles inherited the Birkhall Estate, where he spent his honeymoon with his second wife, The Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005. He was devastated 11 years later when heavy rainfall flooded the land surrounding Birkhall and destroyed 14 years’ worth of thriving gardens.
16. Thatched House
Princess Alexandra lives in this six-bedroom, 18th-century thatched house located in Richmond Park in London, England. This royal home gets its name from the two-room thatched summer house that is attached to it. It features stables, a gardener’s cottage, and other buildings.
This lovely, classic ivory lodge in London is perfect for the princess, who has dedicated most of her life to serving organizations that she is passionate about. A few of the over 100 organizations that she is president of include Cancer Research UK, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, and Alexandra Rose Charities — a charity that raises money for children’s hospitals through the selling of roses.
While the exterior of this 192-acre farmhouse appears to be a bit modest for royal standards, its country charm and well-managed landscape make this home a perfect fit for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. The royal couple stays in this home whenever they feel like enjoying some time away in the countryside.
Just like their proper home, Highgrove House, Prince Charles wanted Llwynywermod to be renovated with sustainability in mind. The house is insulated with sheep’s wool and heated with a wood chip boiler. The house is lit with low-energy lights and features a reed-bed sewage system. The royal couple takes pride in having a completely organic farm, commenting that their sheep make for “selective lawn mowers that fertilize the ground as they graze.”
18. Meghan Markle’s Toronto Pad
In case you’ve ever wondered what the going rate is on a Toronto house that once belonged to a commoner who was successfully wooed by royalty, it’s not particularly cheap. The Suits actress, Meghan Markle, and her pet dogs once enjoyed this gorgeously done-up two-story home located in Canada while she was at work shooting the USA Network hit television series.
Markle once talked about her cozy home on Instagram stating that “there is no place like home.” After getting married to Prince Harry and moving to Frogmore Cottage, the former actress no longer had a need for her Toronto pad, and it went on the market for $1.6 million.
19. Anmer Hall
Most newlyweds will receive a plethora of household items as gifts to use throughout their freshly intertwined lives together, but not Prince William and Kate Middleton. In the form of a wedding gift, this couple got one of the most highly regarded royal homes of all time, Anmer Hall, from none other than the Queen.
The 10-bedroom Georgian estate, complete with a glamorous swimming pool and tennis court, will have you wishing the Queen pulls your name for Secret Santa. This luxurious home sits two miles outside of Sandringham House and was originally intended to be just a country home for the couple. However, the couple took up full-time residence there after the birth of their firstborn child, George. After spending $1.68 million on renovations for Amner Hall, the royal couple relocated to Kensington Palace.
20. Tarrystone Estate
Princess Diana was known for being a regular guest in the Cape Town suburb of Constantia in South Africa until just months before her death in 1997. The lavish Tarrystone Estate, once owned by Earl Spencer, was one of her favorite vacation destinations to wander off to. The estate stands on two acres of land and is complete with two vineyards that are said to produce enough grapes for 300 bottles of wine a year.
The suite that Princess Diana would stay in includes a bathroom, a kitchenette, and a bedroom. The entire Tarrystone Estate is also comprised of a jungle gym, two houses for staff members, five visitor cottages, and a jacuzzi. Earl sold the house in 2000 after the death of the Princess, but the house went back on the market in 2014 for a bountiful $5.93 million.
21. St. James’s Palace
Located in the City of Westminster, St. James’s Palace served as the official residence of kings and queens for over 300 years, just until Queen Victoria ruled in office. Even though St. James is no longer the official home of the monarch, it is still a working palace that houses several royal families and their working offices.
Each year, the palace hosts about 100 charity events involving royal family members. St. James’s Palace is also responsible for hosting the Accession Council meetings after the death of the queen. For the first time in the building’s existence, the royal family opened up two bedrooms at St. James’s Palace in 2018 for anyone willing to fork out $22,000 a month, or $280,000 a year.
22. Meghan and Harry’s “babymoon” destination
A “babymoon” is usually a romantic getaway for soon-to-be parents to enjoy and savor their final moments together as a couple before the third member of their family arrives. So when Meghan Markle and her husband Prince Harry disappeared for a few nights, they were just 45 minutes away from home, hiding away at a five-star hotel called Heckfield Place.
The couple stayed for three nights in a lovely suite known as the Long Room, which cost them $13,000 a night. This simple yet elegant apartment suite came equipped with a chandelier-decked bathroom, an English oak kitchen, and a private outdoor terrace where the couple could enjoy breakfast at sunrise.
23. Sandringham Palace
Covering 20,000 acres of land, Sandringham House holds a dear place in the heart of Queen Elizabeth. The house was passed down to her by her father, King George VI, who inherited it from his father, King George V. King George V once spoke of their home saying, “dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world.”
In 1957, on the 25th anniversary of her grandfather’s famous radio Christmas message, Queen Elizabeth gave her very first televised Christmas message from Sandringham, saying “I wish you all, young and old, wherever you may be, all the fun and enjoyment and the peace of a very happy Christmas.” The house and its 600 acres of gardens, worth $65 million, is open to the public year-round.
24. Windsor Castle
Encompassing everything we love about a fortress, a palace, and a small town in one spectacular property, the Windsor Castle dates back to the 11th century. This 13-acre royal estate belongs to Queen Elizabeth, serving as one of her favorite weekend getaway locations as well as a site for hosting state visits. There is currently a series of projects in the works to upgrade the experience of visiting Windsor Castle.
Once the projects are complete, guests will be able to dine at a brand new cafe in the Undercroft, as well as enjoy a breathtaking view of the Long Walk for the first time. A learning center will also be added to the estate to improve the experience for schools, families, and adults. The total estimated cost of all the projects combined is estimated to be around $41 million.
25. Bagshot Park
A royal property wouldn’t be complete without a hunting lodge fit for a king. Bagshot Park is nothing short of regal, built on Bagshot Heath sometime between 1631 and 1633 and taking up 51 acres of Windsor Great Park’s space.
It’s no wonder the historical park has undergone its fair share of remodeling over the years, taking several different forms before becoming home to Prince Edward and his family. Before the Prince Edward-prompted renovations, rent initially only cost the prince around $5,600 a year. Once the renovations were completed, Prince Edward began dishing out about $100,000 a year for rent.
26. The Royal Lodge
Located in Berkshire, England, three miles south of Windsor Castle, The Royal Lodge is the former Windsor residence of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Following her passing in 2002, Prince Andrew, The Duke of York and his ex-wife, Sarah, The Duchess of York became the new residents of the cottage.
After signing a 75-year lease with the Crown Estate, the couple also inherited a Gardener’s Cottage, the Chapel Lodge, and six Lodge Cottages. The 98-acre residence was initially built for George IV to entertain guests during Royal Ascot, seeing as the property sits a mere seven miles from the racecourse.
27. The Little House
Think back to your 6th birthday. Maybe your parents surprised you with a Disney princess themed party with an inflatable castle or bounce house. Well, on Queen Elizabeth’s 6th birthday, the people of Wale’s gave her a house. Yes, an actual house.
The cottage came complete with a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Hilariously petite in comparison to the Royal Lodge which sits next door, the cottage is now used as a playhouse for the royal children.
28. Ivy Cottage, Wren House, Nottingham Palace
These three small properties sit on the grounds of Kensington Palace. After the wedding on October 12, 2018, between Princess Eugenie of York and new husband, Jack Brooksback, the couple packed up and moved into the Ivy Cottage.
In May of 2019, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle moved next door into Nottingham Palace, the same place where Harry initially popped the question. Many famous royals have called these properties ‘home’ over the years, including Robert Fellowes and his wife, Lady Jane Fellowes, the sister of the late Princess Diana.
29. The Duchy of Lancaster
The Duchy of Lancaster is a private 45,550-acre estate owned by Her Majesty The Queen, otherwise known as the Duke of Lancaster. Duchyoflancaster.co.uk states that the property “is an ancient body responsible for managing an investment portfolio of land, property and financial investments.”
It continues, “The Duchy’s main purpose is to provide income for the Sovereign as Duke of Lancaster, although the Sovereign is not entitled to any of the capital assets of the Duchy.” The reason Her Majesty The Queen is referred to as the Duke of Lancaster, is because Queen Victoria believed that ‘Duchess’ was a “courtesy title for the consort of a Duke.”