Windsor Castle | Highlights
A self-guided tour of Windsor Castle is well worth the money. The historic castle boasts opulent state apartments, the iconic St. George’s Chapel and many unique attractions. One of these is Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, a miniature house with multiple rooms, a garden, Royal Chambers and more.
The Castle hosts exhibitions, special tours, performances, lectures and workshops. One of the current popular exhibitions is the ‘A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’ - which showcases Prince Harry’s uniform and Meghan Markle’s wedding dress. The castle is also filled with mesmerizing art by famed artists including Leonardo Da Vinci.
Windsor Castle State Apartments
Windsor Castle has housed the elite for over 1,000 years, having been built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror. You can see each of the 39 monarchs’ marks on the Castle as you move through the lavish state rooms within the residence. One of the major additions was the paintings on the ceilings by Antonio Verrio and carvings by the famed Grinling Gibbons - both of these additions were done at the behest of King Charles II.
The Queen's Presence Chamber, the Queen's Audience Chamber and the King's Dining Room are some of the rooms in these apartments. These days, most of the apartments are used by the royals to host events for their charities and other organizations.
St George’s Chapel
The chapel was constructed in 1475 during the reign of Edward IV. It is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in England, with stunning details and a stone ceiling that is nothing short of breath-taking. Since its construction, various additions have been made to add to the beauty of the chapel.
St. George’s Chapel is a famed location for royal weddings, the most recent one being that of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018. The chapel also hosts the tombs of 10 monarchs, including Henry VIII. There are also numerous monuments to admire, the most memorable of which is a marble memorial by Matthew Wyatt to Princess Charlotte, who died in childbirth.
The heart of Windsor Castle is called the Middle Ward, which has a mottled hill. Atop this hill is the Round Tower - a tower that provides an all-encompassing view from its North Terrace, which is open to the public. Visitors often take pride in climbing the 200 steps to reach the top of the tower. Once there, visitors can enjoy views of the Windsor, Thames Valley and even the London Skyline.
The view to the south includes the Long Walk, which is 5 kilometers. Atop the tower, you also get a look at the flagpole, which flies the Union Jack flag when the Queen is away and the Royal Standard when the Queen is in Windsor.
Royal Wedding Exhibition
This exhibition titled ‘A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’ features the outfits worn by the couple during their wedding in May 2018. Prince Harry’s frock coat uniform of the Household Cavalry, created by tailors Dege & Skinner on Savile Row. The uniform on display is a duplicate of the original as Prince Harry still uses the original.
The mesmerizing dress worn by Meghan Markle, and designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller, is truly a sight to behold up close. The perfectly tailored dress features beautiful intricate details, worked on by The Duchess herself and Ms. Keller.
The Semi-State Rooms
King George IV’s greatest and last commission, the semi-staterooms are lavishly decorated in a stunning blend of Classic, Gothic and Rococo styles. Even the furniture and furnishings inside these rooms were custom-made to match the King’s grand renovation scheme. The rooms were completed shortly before the King’s death in 1830.
Today, a walk through these rooms is a must for visitors so they can marvel at the impressive design and interior decorating. This part of the Castle was among those damaged in a fire in 1992 but it has since been restored using the original designs in the Royal Library. The semi-staterooms also host some of the best works of art from the Royal Collection.
Queen Mary’s Dolls' House
Queen Mary's Dolls' House was built for Queen Mary, wife of King George V, in the early 1920s. Designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the dollhouse is extraordinary with contributions from over 1500 artists. It was completed in 1924.
The creators of the dollhouse intricately designed rooms, including the Royal Chambers, Saloon and Dining Room, Library, and Staff Rooms and Essentials. The dollhouse even has working electricity, running hot water and working lifts. Each room, book and accessory in the dollhouse has been created with extreme attention to detail and every visitor is bound to be stunned by the work.
The Waterloo Chamber was commissioned by King George IV following Britain’s victory in the Napoleonic Wars in the Battle of Waterloo. Today, the grand room hosts Investitures Ceremonies, where members of the public receive honors from a royal family member.
The room is decorated by around 50 paintings of British royalty, including King George III, his son and successors George IV and King William IV. International monarchs who helped the British defeat the French such as Alexander I, Emperor of Russia, and Frederick William III, King of Prussia, are also on the walls of the Chamber.
A tour of Windsor Castle is not complete without a look at the China Museum. This room features beautiful, unique china that Queen Mary used to display in the corridors in 1920. Featuring pieces from all over the world, including Chinese and Japanese items from the 17th and early-18th centuries, this museum is fascinating.
China used by British Royalty, such as Queen Victoria, with their designated emblems and designs is also on display, along with those used for important occasions.