Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is unlikely to return to London’s Buckingham Palace, choosing her residence at Windsor Castle in Berkshire as her base, according to a media report on Sunday.
The 95-year-old monarch has been based in the castle, traditionally just a weekend retreat, since she moved there for isolation during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
According to ‘The Sunday Times’ she now prefers it as her permanent home and main official residence as opposed to the palace in central London – which was her home for most of her 70-year reign.
Buckingham Palace, which has been the official residence of Britain’s monarchs in London since 1837, is halfway through a 10-year £369 million refurbishment programme.
The Queen originally only planned to temporarily leave her private apartments and move to another part of the palace while her quarters were being renovated.
But as her 96th birthday approaches on April 21, and she’s gotten used to working remotely from Windsor Castle for two years, it’s believed she’s more interested in the idea of staying more permanently.
“The reservation will not end until 2027. While it is still ongoing, it is not really a place to stay for the long term,” the newspaper quoted a royal source as saying.
Senior royal sources also say the Queen, who has recently recovered from COVID, will “mainly” undertake future assignments at Windsor to cut down on her travels.
Windsor Castle was previously only the Queen’s retreat and her residence for Easter and Royal Ascot races in June.
But the paper says it’s clear the monarch has preferred life in the castle, where she’s spent much of the past two years since she left London with her husband, the late Duke of Edinburgh.
It means her son and heir – Charles, Prince of Wales – and wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will be the next members of the royal family to take up residence at Buckingham Palace.
The 73-year-old royal is believed to prefer his current London home, Clarence House, but Buckingham Palace is likely to remain the monarchy’s headquarters once he takes over as king.
He also plans to increase public access to the palace and other official and private royal residences, the newspaper reports.
A grand 775-room building, Buckingham Palace was the setting for some of the most memorable moments of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, including royal newlyweds kissing on the balcony.
The Queen’s next scheduled engagement outside Windsor Castle is the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 14, her first official event outside a royal residence in five months.