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Where Does the Royal Family Live? A Guide to the British Monarchy’s Estates

Does King Charles III live at Buckingham Palace? And who moves into Frogmore Cottage now that Harry and Meghan's lease is up? Here's everything you need to know about the royals' many residences.

Balmoral Castle
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Royal residences fit for a king (or queen)

Palace, castle or cottage? King Charles III is spoiled for choice when it comes to where he can hang up his crown any given day of the week. The British monarch, who’s married to Camilla Parker Bowles (aka Queen Consort Camilla), owns seven palaces, 10 castles, 12 mansions and 56 cottages throughout the U.K. In fact, according to a recent report, the 74-year-old’s real estate portfolio is worth an impressive $25 billion. Of course, Charles doesn’t personally live in all these dreamy places. Many are used by other members of the royal family tree, including Queen Elizabeth’s other children and grandchildren. So where does the royal family live, exactly?

Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral, Frogmore Cottage … it’s hard to keep track of all the different estates the British royals call home. While we are waiting for King Charles’s coronation in May, let’s take a closer look at the royal family’s residences, from who lives where to who received their mansion as a gift … and who has to pay rent. Here’s the ultimate guide to the royal family’s dwellings.

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Where Does The Royal Family Live Infographic
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Buckingham Palace
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Buckingham Palace

Location: London

Who lives there: Currently, no one; formerly, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

Visiting London? Buckingham Palace is probably on your must-visit list. It has been the official residence of the United Kingdom’s monarchs since 1837, after all, and it is impressive. Part of the Crown Estate, the palace has five floors and 775 rooms—including 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 92 offices and a surgical room—as well as 40 acres of gardens. However, no one from the royal family currently lives there. Instead, it serves as the administrative headquarters of the monarchy, and right now, it is halfway through a 10-year, $500-million refurbishment.

Queen Elizabeth II was the last royal to reside at Buckingham Palace, but she moved into Windsor Castle during the pandemic—and never returned. According to the Sunday Times, King Charles III, who was born there, has no intention to make it his home anytime soon and would rather open it to the public than move in there with Camilla. Currently, visitors are allowed into the State Rooms during the summer months, and the Changing of the Guard remains a must-see all year round.

Clarence House
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Clarence House

Location: London

Who lives there: King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla

So if Buckingham Palace isn’t used as a residence, where does the royal family actually live? Clarence House, just a stone’s throw away, is one of the lesser-talked-about royal residences, but the Crown-owned building is actually where you’re most likely to spot Charles and Camilla. It is their current London home, after all! The couple moved into Clarence House in August 2003 following the Queen Mother’s death. (She had been living there since 1953.) It’s also the former home of Queen Elizabeth II, who made it her London base in 1947 after marrying Prince Philip.

As royal historian Robert Lacey has pointed out, King Charles III is very fond of the place, and his personal art collection is displayed here, along with his late mother’s. “Clarence House is the least palatial of all the residences in London,” Lacey told the BBC in 2022, “but it has great associations for him because his beloved grandmother lived there.”

windsor castle
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Windsor Castle

Location: Windsor, Berkshire

Who lives there: No one currently; formerly, Queen Elizabeth II

Windsor Castle, about an hour’s drive from London, is where Queen Elizabeth II spent most of her final years (including during COVID lockdowns) and recorded her very last Christmas message in 2021. With around 1,000 rooms and 484,000 square feet, it is the largest occupied (or recently occupied) castle in the world.

However, Windsor wasn’t initially intended as a residence: Built by William the Conqueror in the late 11th century, it served as a fortress. Over the years, though, it turned into a private home for kings and queens, as well as a venue for royal celebrations. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot there in 2018, followed by Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in the same year. Queen Elizabeth II is buried in Windsor’s St. George Chapel alongside her husband Prince Philip, her grandfather King George VI, her sister Princess Margaret and other senior royals. The chapel is open to visitors who want to pay their respects. It remains to be seen if King Charles III will follow in his late mother’s footsteps at some point and ditch London for Windsor.

Balmoral Castle
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Balmoral Castle

Location: Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Who lives there: Currently, no one; Queen Elizabeth II’s former summer residence

It’s an open secret that Queen Elizabeth II adored Scotland. Every year, the late monarch spent an extended summer holiday there, enjoying picnics and other fun activities with her family, riding her beloved horses and taking her corgis on long walks. “She loved the relaxed pace of life in the countryside,” says royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams, who thinks Queen Elizabeth II would have been “very happy” as a full-time countrywoman in another life. The monarch spent her final weeks at Balmoral and eventually died there on Sept. 8, 2022.

Prince Albert bought Balmoral Castle as a gift for his wife, Queen Victoria, in 1852. Construction to update the building was completed in 1856, and it has been the Scottish home of the royal family ever since. Following the death of Queen Elizabeth, it is currently unclear how the country retreat, which Prince Harry called “simply paradise” in Spare, will be used in the future. Where does the royal family live when on holiday, you might wonder? King Charles III just might make Balmoral his new home away from home.

Prince Of Wales Takes Part In Tree Planting Event
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Highgrove House

Location: Gloucestershire, in southwest England

Who lives there: King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla (when on vacation)

Highgrove House is another vacation home for Charles and Camilla, even though it now technically belongs to Charles’s son Prince William: It is part of the Duchy of Cornwall and therefore came with William’s new title Prince of Wales. Charles purchased the estate in 1980, a year before getting married to Princess Diana, and it was turned into the couple’s family home after their wedding.

Highgrove House has nine bedrooms, four reception rooms and a nursery wing spread over three floors. The main attraction, however, is its beautiful surroundings. King Charles III is an avid gardener and organic farmer, and he takes care of all the plants personally whenever time allows. If you happen to be in Gloucestershire between April and September, make sure to pencil in a visit.

General View Of Sandringham Estate
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Location: Norfolk, in eastern England

Who lives there: King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla (when on vacation)

This country mansion, roughly a three-hour drive north of London, has served as a private home of British monarchs since 1862. King Charles III inherited it from his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. The 20,000-acre estate became part of the royal portfolio in 1862, when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought it for their then-21-year-old son Edward VII and his fiancée, Alexandra of Denmark.

Sandringham is where Queen Elizabeth II recorded her first-ever televised Christmas message in 1957. But it is probably best known as the place where the royal family traditionally spends Christmas. It was also where all the senior royals gathered in January 2020 for the so-called “Sandringham Summit,” the crisis talks following Harry’s and Meghan’s decision to step back from their royal duties.

Visiting the area and interested in checking it out? Parts of Sandringham are open to the public.

Prince George, Princess Charlotte And Prince Louis Start Lambrook School
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Adelaide Cottage

Location: Windsor, Berkshire

Who lives there: Prince William, Princess Kate and their three children

Of course, the monarchy isn’t all about Charles and Camilla. So where do William and Kate live? The pair and their three children—Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis—moved into Adelaide Cottage, another residence owned by the Crown Estate, in the summer of 2022. The future king and his wife are leasing the 19th-century, four-bedroom property and reportedly pay market rent. No discount for royals here!

“Apart from wanting to be closer to Queen Elizabeth II, William and Kate also moved for the sake of their children,” says Fitzwilliams. “They want them to grow up as normal as possible, and Windsor is a good distance away from the London-based press.” Fitzwilliams’s prediction: The family will likely remain in Adelaide Cottage “for the foreseeable future.”

Kensington Palace Southern Facade, London, England
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Kensington Palace, Apartment 1

Location: London

Who lives there: Prince William, Princess Kate and their three children (when in London)

The newly minted Prince and Princess of Wales also keep other royal residences, including one in central London. Apartment 1 inside Kensington Palace has 20 rooms and a large walled garden for extra privacy—and William and Kate spent around $5.5 million on renovations before moving there in 2013. In fact, they were the first royals to install a second kitchen suitable for a family rather than a professional chef.

Apartment 1 was where Kate and William welcomed Barack Obama in April 2016 during his London visit and a 2-year-old Prince George, decked out in a white bathrobe, said hello to the then-president. Omid Scobie, the royal editor for Bazaar.com, who was at the palace that night, describes Apartment 1 as “very impressive, very formal … with a lot of artwork on the walls.”

Aside from being Kate and William’s London home, the palace also contains their offices, as well as the offices and residences of some lesser-known royals. And here are a few other interesting facts: Princess Diana lived at Apartment 8 and 9 after marrying Charles and continued to stay there after the divorce. Plus, Queen Victoria was born at Kensington Palace and spent her childhood there, and Harry and Meghan got engaged on the palace grounds.

General Views Of Anmer Hall
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Anmer Hall

Location: Sandringham, Norfolk

Who lives there: Prince William, Princess Kate and their three children (during school holidays)

Anmer Hall, William and Kate’s country retreat on the premises of the king’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, was Queen Elizabeth II’s gift to the couple when they got married in 2011. The Georgian mansion was built in 1802 and is the former home of the late Hugh Van Cutsem Sr., a college friend of King Charles III. According to British media, it has 10 bedrooms, a swimming pool and a private tennis court.

Kate and William lived at Anmer Hall full-time after Princess Charlotte was born in 2015. They swapped it for Kensington Palace two years later but returned to Norfolk when the U.K. entered the first COVID lockdown in 2020. Today, the couple uses it for extended weekend breaks and during school holidays. Unfortunately, pictures of the inside are rare, but we got a glimpse into the garden on Kate and William’s official Christmas card image in 2022.

frogmore cottage
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Frogmore Cottage

Location: Windsor, Berkshire

Who lives there: Currently, no one; formerly, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan

Where does Prince Harry live when in the U.K.? Until March 2023, his official U.K. address was Frogmore Cottage, a stone’s throw from Windsor Castle. The 10-bedroom home, owned by the Crown Estate, was built for Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, in 1801, and gifted to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle by the queen when they tied the knot in 2018. Harry and Meghan, aka the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, spent $3.2 million on renovations (which they paid back after moving to the United States).

“Frogmore is very personal to them because it’s where they held their wedding reception and did their engagement photographs,” notes royal expert Victoria Arbiter in the Netflix documentary Inside Royal Homes.

Harry and Meghan last used Frogmore in 2022 when they attended Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. Their daughter, Lilibet, spent her first birthday there. However, following Harry’s tell-all memoir and Netflix docuseries, the couple was asked to vacate their U.K. home. According to media reports, King Charles III has offered the keys to Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, but this hasn’t been confirmed. The Sussexes currently live in Montecito, California.

Royal Lodge
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Royal Lodge

Location: Windsor, Berkshire

Who lives there: Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

For the time being, Prince Andrew is still based at Royal Lodge in Windsor, the former residence of the Queen Mother up until her death in 2002. The impressive home is part of the Crown Estate and has 30 rooms, a large drawing room known as a “formal room” and a saloon. Andrew moved into Royal Lodge in 2004 with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson. And while the pair has been divorced since 1996, they still happily share the mid-1600s residence. Five years ago, their daughter Princess Eugenie held her wedding reception at Royal Lodge.

These days, however, things don’t look quite so bright for Andrew and Fergie. The British press reports they might soon have to leave Royal Lodge, as Andrew’s brother, King Charles III, intends to cut Andrew’s annual $300,000 allowance, meaning the Prince will no longer be able to afford the rent. It is reported that Prince Andrew is not happy about the situation and plans to “resist” a move.

Aerial View Of Bagshot Park The Royal Residence Of Prince Edward, Earl Of Wessex And Sophie, Countess Of Wessex
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Bagshot Park

Location: Windsor, Berkshire

Who lives there: Prince Edward, Sophie Wessex and their two children

Queen Elizabeth II’s youngest son, Prince Edward, is yet another Windsor resident. The Duke of Edinburgh has been living in 19th-century Bagshot Park since he married Sophie Wessex in 1999. Edward initially rented the mansion for 50 years from the Crown Estate (meaning King Charles III now is his landlord), but the lease was recently extended another 150 years. It therefore looks like it will eventually be passed on to the couple’s children, Louise Mountbatten-Windsor and James Mountbatten-Windsor.

As for the history of Bagshot Park, it was built for King Charles I in 1609, and in 1879, rebuilt for Queen Victoria’s son Prince Arthur. This historic building reportedly has 120 rooms and comes with 51 acres of land.

British Royalty
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Gatcombe Park

Location: Gloucestershire, in southwest England

Who lives there: Princess Anne and Zara and Mike Tindall

Princess Anne might be a popular member of the royal family, but even her most devoted fans might not be able to point out her home on a map. Gatcombe Park in the British Cotswolds is certainly one of the lesser-known royal residences. It belonged to a politician before Queen Elizabeth II bought it as a wedding gift for her daughter, Anne, in 1976. The Princess Royal has been living at the estate ever since and currently shares it with her second husband, Lawrence. Just like her brother King Charles III, Anne has a soft spot for organic farming. It therefore makes sense that Gatcombe Park isn’t just a private home but also a working farm with horses and cattle.

Luckily, there’s plenty of space for additional humans too: Princess Anne’s daughter, Zara, and her husband, Mike Tindall, moved onto the estate in 2013 and continue to live there with their daughters, Mia and Lena.

View Of St James's Palace
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St. James’s Palace

Location: London

Who lives there: Princess Anne (when in London)

While Princess Anne doesn’t spend a lot of time in the capital, she still has a posh address to return to when she feels like it: St. James’s Palace. Owned by the Crown, it recently made the news as the place where King Charles III was proclaimed the new monarch after his mother (who had become queen there in 1952) had passed. But it was also the main residence of Britain’s kings and queens for more than three centuries, until Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace in 1837.

The London landmark, which was completed in 1536 on the site of a former hospital, is primarily used for royal engagements these days, hosting up to 100 official receptions every year. Prince Louis was christened there in 2018.

Britain Continues Period Of National Mourning Following The Death Of Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh
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Nottingham Cottage

Location: Kensington Palace, London

Who lives there: Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank

Compared with most royal family members, Princess Eugenie has a rather modest house. Located on the grounds of Kensington Palace, it’s called Nottingham Cottage, nicknamed “Nott Cott,” and she lives there with her husband, Jack Brooksbank, and their son, August. This two-bedroom home with a small garden was purchased by King William III and Queen Mary II in 1689.

While the current residents seem to love the cute place, its previous owners, Harry and Meghan, apparently weren’t quite as fond of it. Nottingham Cottage is where the couple lived in their early days, and in their Netflix documentary, Harry & Meghan, the duo called it “too small” and complained about the “low ceilings.” Fun fact: It’s the second time Princess Eugenie moved into a house abandoned by the Sussexes. Before settling into her current home, she had rented the pair’s Frogmore Cottage.

Wondering about Eugenie’s sister, Princess Beatrice? She and her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, currently split their time between London (where they have an apartment at St. James’s Palace), the Cotswolds and New York City.


Astrid Hofer
Astrid Hofer covers entertainment, lifestyle, travel and current events for international publications. When she’s not on deadline, you can find her checking out the latest bands, movies and vegan restaurants in London and beyond.