Windsor, England. We stopped in at Windsor Castle Friday, as Her Majesty was in residence, but alas – no invitation for tea was forthcoming.
Instead, we were forced to queue with the commoners, many of whom had come all the way from China, to buy tickets and to go through a rigorous security process. At least we had a three-year-old portrait of Great-Grand-Mama and her descendants by Annie Leibovitz to admire. (Guess no English photographer was available.)
Our tour was mostly limited to the outside, which is practically a tour of English history. William the Conqueror began work on the castle in the 11th century; Edward III modified and extended it in the mid-1300’s, including the round tower; George IV transformed the medieval castle into the fortified royal palace of today between 1824 and 1837, and every other royal probably left their mark. Windsor is the only royal residence in continuous use by the Royal Family since the Middle Ages.
If you notice a lot of airplanes overhead here, it’s a reminder that Windsor is on the flight-path to very nearby Heathrow airport, which must lower the property values immensely. A plane flies by about every four minutes. Don kept reminding me that I wouldn’t want to live with all that noise…
There were a few exhibits and gift shops we could explore. Please note that the Prince Charles 70th birthday souvenir tea cup and saucer has already been marked down, while Meghan and Harry are still full price. Eventually we saw the room where Knights of the Garter have their audience with the Queen, and the accompanying regalia. There was also an exhibit about the horrible fire of 1992, which destroyed the 600-year old St. George’s Hall, restored by 1997. (And more airplanes.)
The State Apartments were open to tour, but alas, no photos allowed. So, as not to deprive you of a glimpse, here is the official view of some of the stunning public rooms:
We were very disappointed not to be able to go into St. George’s Chapel, where ten kings are buried, including Henry VIII. It is said to be the noblest buildings in England. Another royal wedding was taking place on Saturday, so I guess they were busy with flowers, etc.
Leaving the castle, we had the chance to watch some more planes fly by, and to marvel again at this architectural diary of England. The town of Windsor nestles right up against the castle, and is a tourist’s dream. It must be painful to visit in August, as it was quite busy enough for us today.