COTE DE TEXAS

WHEN A DESTROYED HOUSE MIMICS A MARRAIGE AND A LIFE

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 Take a seat and enjoy.  This is a long one but it's worth knowing the ins and outs to understand it all.



I read a story about Sunninghill Park the other day and it got me thinking how the status of that house and the status of its once owners is so intertwined:

Totally destroyed.

To understand, you have to start at the beginning, of course.

1946:  King George VI had been king for almost 10 years but the family still preferred to stay and garden at their Windsor country cottage, the Royal Lodge, now home to Prince Andrew, the Duke of York. 

Before she was the Queen Mum, Elizabeth (the current Queen’s mother) and her husband, the future King George VI, used the Royal Lodge at Windsor Park as their country home.  Their daughters, the two young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, grew up at the Royal Lodge.  After the Queen Mum was widowed, she once again made the Royal Lodge her country home.  Clarence House was her London town home and Birkhall was her Balmoral home.  She also had her own bolthole in northern Scotland, the small Castle of Mey,  that she purchased with her own money – the only house the Queen Mum ever truly owned herself.


When the Queen Mum died, Clarence House and Birkhall went to Prince Charles and later Camilla, but her beloved Royal Lodge went to Prince Andrew and his daughters. His estranged ex-wife, the rambunctious, notorious redheaded Sarah Ferguson also moved in, despite their divorce.  

Andrew spent two years refurbishing the Royal Lodge which he intended to pay for with his profits from selling Sunninghill Park.  Except, it didn’t sell for the longest time and his mummy, Queen Elizabeth, had to cough up the cash, yet again.

Could Prince Andrew find a friend to purchase Sunninghill Park? 

And this is where the tale goes sour…

 

At their 1986 wedding Sarah and Andrew, the soon to be owners of Sunninghill Park, are shown listening to the crowds begging for THE kiss. The newlyweds were so young and happy and so in love!  She was the promising breath of fresh air in the stodgy royal family.  He was the dashing naval captain.  It would fall apart all too soon.  Barely four years later, while pregnant with her second child, Sarah embarked on a love affair with a Texan from Houston – the ruggedly handsome, new age devotee, and the impossibly wealthy, Steven Wyatt.  It would be a series of photographs with, first, Wyatt, and then later, the photos of her topless on vacation with her children and her other lover, another Texan – Johnny Bryan – that brought down the once happy marriage. 

Sarah and Andrew were destined for failure but who would have known it looking at that photo from their wedding?  Their house, Sunninghill Park, became a symbol for the failures they would experience in love and life.  The best thing that came out of all the mess were their two daughters, the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, who seem to be rather sweet and innocent.

After Sarah and Andrew’s wedding, the Queen had gifted the couple with a plot of land on which they were to build a house, Sunninghill Park.  That house has stood for decades as the symbol of all that went wrong with the Duke & Duchess of  York.  In the end, the public would come to dislike the house as much as the couple. 

 

At the time, the decision by the Queen to build a house for her third born child Andrew, was rather surprising.  Andrew is considered to be the Queen’s favorite child (not sure how the press actually knows this, but it is repeated so often it is now considered true.)

But, the royals do not usually build houses anymore, rather they reuse older estates on crown lands or purchase ones already built.  It is said that the last house erected for a royal was Bagshot Park, built in 1879 for Queen Victoria’s son the Duke of Connaught.  Bagshot has 120 rooms and the Duke was comfy there until he passed away in 1942.  Today, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex and the Queen’s youngest rents Bagshot Park from his mother:


Bagshot Park – the last house built by the Royal Family back in 1879 - before Sunninghill Park, that is.   The Earl of Wessex and his family of four live here.   Before them, the Royal Army Chaplains stayed here.

Why Was Sunninghill Park Chosen?

            

When Andrew and Sarah Ferguson were married, Andrew was in the Royal Navy and it has been said that he was at sea for the first five years of their marriage – and he was home only 40 days a year.  This figure was oft cited by Fergie as to why their marriage was destroyed.  Still, they had married in 1986 and had two daughters before they separated in 1992.  After photos of Sarah and another man surfaced later that year, where she was topless and her lover was sucking her toe, their divorce was quickly announced, but it would not be official until 1996.

And, there was the matter of their marital home, Sunninghill Park, which was considered a design disaster and had became a symbol of their failed marriage.

 

        

SUNNINGHILL PARK:

Above is the original house known as Sunninghill Park, Windsor.  Notice the bay windows at the side of the house.   The house was added onto over the years before the Royals purchased it for the then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

 

The Sunninghill Park property is historic.  One of the first documents King Henry VIII signed was done while hunting on the land where a lodge stood in what is now known as Sunninghill Park.   King Henry VIII had the old medieval building rebuilt two years later – it was a Tudor courtyard house with a large gatehouse.  Out back were two ponds that were merged into one lake. The park covered over 600 acres.   Later the MP Edward Neville lived there with his family.  The Tudor house was later torn down and replaced with one shown above, a beautifully proportioned Georgian covered in ivy.  A sequence of people lived on the Sunninghill Park land until 1945 when the Crown purchased it with plans that the then Princess Elizabeth and her soon to be husband Philip, would live there – in their first home together.    

The original Sunninghill Park home – bought for Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

The charming Georgian, covered in ivy, with cows grazing out front. Towards the left is an addition that was built onto the smaller original Georgian home.

The back of the original Sunninghill Park rested on a lake with this picturesque bridge.


An aerial view of the original 600 acre Sunninghill Park estate on the lake with the picturesque bridge.  Starting off a cycle of bad luck…while Elizabeth and Philip were renovating the main house in anticipation of moving into it, the main house burned in 1947.   Elizabeth and Philip never could even move into it. 


The burned out original Sunninghill Park house – you can see the curved two story bay windows.  Beside the stone walls, the brick fireplaces were left standing.

After the disaster of the fire, the newlyweds, Elizabeth and Philip, moved instead to another house.  Later, the burned out house and property was considered for Princess Margaret, but that was also rejected.


Another aerial view.   The original house in yellow.  Circled in purple – are the stables, which survived the fire and remain standing today, turned into small houses which were recently restored and sold.   In red is the walled garden property that Sarah and Andrew carved out of the original 600 acres to create their own Sunninghill Park.

The garden property which became Sarah and Andrew’s was surrounded by an aged brick fence which also remains today – encircling the five acres of property where their house was built.

 

This aerial shows the original stables that survived the fire - right next to the red arrow on what is called Great Pond.  Towards the left of the arrow, you can see the picturesque bridge.   Down the lane is the York’s estate, now considered Sunninghill Park.

The stables overlooking Great Pond which survived the fire of the 1940s.  Today, they have been turned into private homes, which were reconstructed out of the original stables. It’s a shame the York’s Sunninghill Park was not as charming as these stables.  Perhaps things would have been so different for the family if they had chosen to just renovate the stables instead of building the enormous Sunninghill Park house.

Another view of the reconstructed stables on Great Pond in Sunninghill Park.    Here are two homes with their back lawns separated by a hedge.

                       

Andrew and Sarah along with their architect James Dunbar-Nasmith, began construction on their marital house which was completed in 1990, four years after their wedding and two years before they separated.  Sunninghill Park had six reception rooms, 12 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms.  Once plans for the house were revealed to the public, Sunninghill Park became a cause for derision.  The plans were mocked because the house was said to resemble a supermarket. 

 

 

      The model of Sunninghill Park.  Prince Philip rudely remarked “It looks like a tart’s bedroom” when he saw the model in 1988.  The public agreed.   The red roof was just too much.  The design of the house was called Neo-Tudor, a style popularized in the 1920-1930s which incorporates pitched roofs, gables, tall chimneys and leaded windows. 

Sarah was always blamed for the bad design of the house – but in truth, it was Andrew who had helped design the house, in his vision, not Sarah’s, though she has been forever burdened with that blame.


   The public dubbed it South York, for its supposed resemblance to Southfork,  the soap opera Dallas’ estate, above.  Actually South Fork was much better looking than Sunninghill Park.    

 

 

Construction begins with all smiling faces.

 

 

Despite all the public scorn, the house was still built, unchanged.  It was erected inside the original brick garden walls.   A sign that read “Crown Estates” kept trespassers away.

                       

 

An aerial view of the completed Sunninghill Park.  If only the roof was brown and if only the front facade was flat instead of looking like a huge porte cochere – it would have been so much more attractive.  The gardens were quite pretty and well landscaped.  There was a veggie and cut flower garden to the left of the house behind the garage and stables.   At the back of the house is a lawn, enclosed by flowering beds.  At the front corner of house is a gatehouse, with a door and a weathervane. 

 

 

The back side of the house.  The veggie garden can be seen off the stables/garages.  Down a few stone steps off the back French doors is the large lawn that was enclosed by flowerbeds.

 

And for a birthday party for one of their girls, Fergie went all out – this is a display of her typical over spending that led to the massive debts for the entirety of her life.


 

At this front corner of the property you can see the gatehouse with its wood door and weathervane - and a huge jack o lantern for the party.         



THE SUNNINGHILL PARK INTERIOR DECORATION

While Andrew was in charge of the architecture, the interior decoration was left up to Sarah and typically, the press surrounding the interior decor would became a national disaster as everything that Sarah touched tended to become.

Sarah had discovered her ideal interior decorator when she visited her mother Susie and Hector, her step father, the dashingly handsome and sexy Brazilian polo player,  when they were all vacationing in Connecticut.  Sarah had been just a child when Susie had abandoned her family after falling madly in love with Hector, moving across the world to live with him in Brazil.   Sarah rarely saw her mother so she jumped at the chance to get together with Susie and Hector while they were staying at the Connecticut home of the fabulously wealthy Henryk de Kwiatkowski and his trophy wife, the Andy Warhol model, Barbara Allen.    The Kwiatkowski estate was on Conyers Farms and had been decorated by none other than Sister Parish.  Of course, Sarah fell madly in love with the decor.

 

                   

Henryk de Kwiatkowski and Barbara Allen’s house in Greenwich Connecticut.  Their designer, Sister Parish of the firm Parish-Hadley, furnished this house as well as several others for the couple.   While staying here, Sarah decided to hire Sister and Parish-Hadley to decorate Sunninghill Park.

 

 

 

There are no interior photos from the Parish-Hadley decor of the Conyers Farm house, but this is the dining room of the New York apartment that Parish-Hadley did for the same couple.

Many houses in England were decorated by Americans, and even an American, Nancy Lancaster, ran the most well known English decor firm Colefax and Fowler.  Regardless, the press was merciless towards Sarah’s choice of the American, Sister Parish, to decorate Sunninghill Park.  Even the Chicago Tribune wrote about it in an article entitled “A Royal Stink.”

Even Colefax and Fowler weighed in on the discussion.   They issued a statement when they were passed over for the project saying they were  ''very disappointed that the Duchess of York has found it necessary to go to America since there is such a wealth of talent in this country.''


At least one English designer publicly approved of the Yorks choice of Parish-Hadley.  David Mlinaric said: ''I like the idea of cross-pollination. The English country-house look owes a great deal to American influence. Sister Parish is a senior, well-respected member of the profession who mixes traditional European with American precision.''

       
In the end, the couple buckled to the pressure and fired Parish Hadley, if they were ever even officially hired.

In the book written by Sister’s daughter Apple, David Kleinberg recalls the meetings they had with Sarah.  At the time Sarah and Andrew were living in a rented house with rented furniture.  Sister was given a set of architectural plans so that she could provide her input to the couple.   For instance, there was a large dressing room for Sarah with a spiral staircase that led to other closets which Sister and David thought was all wrong and as such, they presented a plan to the architect with their changes.   Nothing was ever made of all their suggestions.  Parish-Hadley’s second meeting took place at Buckingham Palace where they were told they were fired because of the bad press. 

 

Instead, the most English of all was chosen to decorate Sunninghill Park – Nina Campbell.

In the book Sister Parish, Kleinberg tells of what Campbell told them of the job:  There was hardly any budget for furniture – it was just too small.  They had to use leftovers.  At one point, Campbell took Sister and David to see the house while it was under construction.  David says he hated it.

   In June, after Sister was let go from a job where there had been no contract, Nina Campbell was interviewed.  For their initial meeting at Buckingham Palace, Nina took heaps of samples to discover what Sarah and Andrew were drawn to, aesthetically.    Later that summer after Beatrice was born, Campbell flew with the baby’s doctor to Balmoral, where the royals vacation in their large Scottish estate.   It was after that Balmoral meeting that Campbell was finally officially hired.  She kept the hiring a secret for all of the summer. 

Later, she was quoted about the beauty of Sunninghill Park:

"No one could have failed to be impressed by the magnificence of Sunninghill once they stood on the natural stone floor of the vast white entrance hall crowned by a glass-domed ceiling.  Its refreshing combination of old and new made it as special as anything else with the A&S brand on it."

I wonder what Nina Campbell would say today of that project??

Despite what was written in the Sister Parish book, Campbell did have some luck with the design.  She was given permission to choose unused furniture and art from both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle’s store rooms.  In photos from Tatler magazine, you can see beautiful pieces of priceless art hanging in the drawing room.  But, Andrew did place his stuffed teddy bears on the sofas.    

 

Nina Campbell, by the way, ever the lady, has never said a word against the Yorks and is always quoted as saying the couple were both lovely to work with.  Of that I have no doubt.  

 

 

 After the couple separated and divorced,  Andrew continued to live there while Sarah and the girls moved out for awhile.  When Andrew’s grandmother, the Queen Mum died in 2002, it paved the way for Andrew to move into her country home, the Royal Lodge.  It makes one wonder if that was the plan all along?  If so why build Sunninghill Park instead of just staying in another Royal home?  

  And so, Andrew moved out and Sarah remained in Sunninghill Park while she waited for it to sell.  It didn’t and barely a decade after it was built – Sunninghill Park was abandoned.

Above:  After it was abandoned.  Its once charming gatehouse at the front corner of the estate, with its wood door. The swimming pool, with its stone coping,  still has its childproof cover on.  And look at that grass!  It even looks spooky!!


I have gathered photos of Sunninghill Park’s interior from stalkers who snuck into the house after it was abandoned and left to rot.  There are also photos from a photoshoot for Tatler Magazine and others.  I wish there were more, better photos, but the ones taken after it was abandoned are probably the most honest:


  Photo taken by the stalkers.  This is the entrance that leads to the foyer that then leads to the drawing room which overlooks the back lawn.  Notice these columns – how they aren’t solid at the top and notice how the stone stops and the columns become metal.  This design is repeated inside too.  It’s very strange to me and so unattractive.  I think if the columns had all been solid, perhaps the house would have been prettier.  Also notice that the brick is not quite as orange as it seemed in other photos.  And the roof is either wet or dirty or has aged to this darker color, not the bright orange of the earlier photos.

 

After the house was left vacant:  The grand entrance room that Nina spoke so glowingly of:   the stone floor, the two story ceiling topped with a dome.

To me, this shows all the design flaws.  I really don’t care for all the yellow wood which is everywhere – definitely a decor element.   The floral carpet runs up the stairs with a bannister.  The stairs are hidden behind sheetrock.  It’s stunning how unattractive the stairs are – contemporary!  It’s as if they are to be hidden and not seen.  And notice the design of the wood columns at the stairs.  I really don’t like these at all!!    I’m not sure why they aren’t solid, instead there are odd cutouts in the wood which is repeated inside and out. I’m sorry to be so negative, but it’s hard to find anything to like!!!   To the left you can see the balcony that overlooks the entrance from the second floor.  Notice over the door in shadow – you can see the skylit dome.

                     

This stalker, a man and his wife, broke into the empty Sunninghill Park and took dozens of photos which are on Facebook.  Here you can see the balcony overlooking the entrance hall.  And – here you can see there are lightbulbs hidden in the posts which might account for why they are cutout instead of solid.    But, still – I just detest the way the way the columns look attached to the ceiling and stairs – they look like PickUp Stix.

Notice the wood ceiling here.

Here is how it looks, looking up at the wood ceiling – that meets in the middle with the skylit dome.  Not a great photo, of course, it was taken by the stalkers!  But wow – all that wood.  Not a fan.  It looks so heavy here.   I wonder why this heavy wood ceiling was chosen?

 

 

 

And here is a photo of the famous Juliet Balcony in the entrance hall with the infamous stalker!  Missing light bulb on the left pilaster.   Again, I just really dislike the way those pilasters look!

 

 

The Drawing Room with the Nina Campbell swags and jabots.  White and black marble fireplace – which is rather pretty.  But again,  the wood stain is so unattractive.  Either go really bleached out or dark.   And why are the arches above the windows not symmetrical?  Maybe that’s the photography?

Notice the colorful striped fabric above the curtains – this is repeated below on pillows.

Missing above the marble fireplace is probably a gilt mirror.

 

 

Finally!!!  We get a real sense of the decor.  No rug – perhaps that was still on order.  There’s a large green velvet ottoman and a silk skirted table.  The sofa (one of a few) has a pretty print, as does Andrew’s chair.  There is a beautiful piano and fine art work from the palace hanging behind Andrew. 

I wish so badly this was in color!!!!

Notice that piano!!!!  It will turn up again, later!!!

 

 

Finally, color!!!!!  Here is the green velvet ottoman.  The second sofa is yellow.

These photos were taken way after the separation.   Sarah had already moved out of the house with the two girls and then moved back in again!!

 

Here is the second sofa in yellow with the printed pillows.  This fabric is repeated above the curtains.  Another fine piece of art hangs on this wall.

 

 

 

 

Umm.   OK.  This gold framed chair is a surprise.  A misstep which Nina Campbell doesn’t do.  It must have been a hand me down from the Queen. 

 

 

Another darling photo of Sarah and her girls Beatrice and Eugenie. 

 

From an earlier photoshoot in the house, in front of the art work.

That’s one thing I would love to have access to – oil portraits from the Queen’s coffers!!! 


The entrance hall leads through doors to the drawing room – there are two niches that flank the doors.  Sorry about this man!  What a troll!

The drawing room overlooks the back lawn.

 

 

The dining room with blue silk moire walls which have faded terribly.  Such a shame!  Look at the “mirror” above the mantel, you can even see the two feet of the missing mirror!!!  Yellow and blue marble matches the carpeting.  

                    

 

And the library which was probably a very pretty room.  Beautifully carved wood mantel with brass trimmed cabinet doors.  Is that a hidden safe?  There is a section of faux books which really interested the stalkers who took these photos.  The red rug is the same as the one that leads upstairs.

Sadly, the phone remains but all the fireplace innards are missing. 


The faux books open to – something – which the stalker teases about.  He doesn’t say what.  Perhaps a bar?

 

Well, this is a bit of a mess with orange brick floor and blue and white tiles and fabrics and yellowish granite with a fabulous white Aga.  With a little redo it could be wonderful.  That’s probably a Nina Campbell fabric on the shade.  It must KILL her to see all her hard work left to just decay!!!

 

Not sure why the stalkers had to be in every photo!  But here is the master bedroom which was probably once very lovely.  It overlooked the back gardens. 

 

 

This was the master bath with the large tub that Sarah asked for.  The stalker thinks he is just so funny!!!   Go away!!!!  (But thanks for the photos I have to say!)

 

 

 

And it looks like the marble was stolen?  Or granite?  Not the master bathroom, but it does merit a bidet.

 

 

I like this view, except for the decay, of the entrance court leading into the garage/stables.

                     

 

It’s amazing how quickly nature takes over and just obliterates all the landscaping.  This was taken in 2009 and Andrew had moved out in 2004.

 

   

Just taken over by weeds.


The stables with the charming blue painted Dutch doors – just a mess!


 And in the garage/stables outbuildings someone was storing a plane!


After over five years, Sunninghill Park was finally sold in 2007 but it would be years before the house could be demolished by its new owners.

Whomever they are???? 


The rumored buyer of Sunninghill Park, Timu Kalibayev, is the billionaire son in law of the autocratic ruler of Kazakhstan, Nurusultan Nazabayez.  Nazabayez is a friend and a hunting partner of Prince Andrew.  Think Kazakhstan.  Think Borat…

Sunninghill Park was sold for 15 million pounds, 3 million pounds more than the asking price.  Why?  Certainly no one was standing in line in a bidding war to purchase the estate.   The house was already in decline.  It had been empty and no care had been taken for its upkeep for years.  At first, the buyer was unknown.    Officially, offshore companies and a trust made the purchase.

 

The reason for secrecy?  It was rumored that the house was to be for Nurusultan’s mistress and mother of his two illegitimate sons.

But why did he pay Andrew 3 million more pounds than the asking price?  No one else had put in an offer.  Buckingham Palace claimed that the deal was brokered by an agent and Andrew had nothing to do with it.  It was a clean transaction.  Except….

Later, leaked emails revealed that Andrew was very much involved in the sale.  He even negotiated the lease of two neighboring fields which would have been an unfair deal for the tenant farmer.  Etc.

There’s more.  Bank deals between the corrupt country and Andrew.  And business contracts totaling 385 million pounds.  Etc.

At one point Andrew attempted to arrange for the Queen’s bank Coutts, to take on the oligarch as a client.  It was all scandalous as a senior at the bank said the oligarchs aren’t the sort of clients they seek as the country is so corrupt.

On top of this it was revealed Andrew was involved as a “fixer” between Kazakhstan and a Greek company and Swiss finance house.

   The tale of the sale of his house is so convoluted, you would fall asleep if I could even tell it in detail.  It is that confusing!!! 
Let’s just say it was not a kosher deal!

And there was more bad news about Sunninghill Park.

   Before the purchase, a borough council was considering seizing the property under a housing act with plans to use the derelict property as a homeless shelter. Instead it was sold in just the nick of time.  It wasn’t until 2013 that Timu, the new apparent owner, was given permission to demolish the house.  Even then, demolition had to be halted when over 100 bats were found to be roosting in Sunninghill’s roof!!    

 

 

  

 Finally, it was destroyed barely two decades after it was built..

Here, you can see the drawing room’s remains with the tall fireplace and windows.  To the left on the second floor landing between the entry and the drawing room are the three arched bookcases.  The master suite was off that landing.

 

 

 

Finally demolished, almost.


Out of the ashes is the new house that looks a lot like the original house with its orange brick.  Even the front facade has a similar porte cochere appearance. 

 

 

 

 

The back side.  At the left is the enclosed swimming pool whose roof is supposed to be a greenscape.

 

 

The new house guide.  Not much was left off!

   
       

Where did Sarah go after the divorce?  Originally when the couple separated and the photos of her and Johnny Bryan were published, Sarah moved into the nearby Romenda Lodge, above. 

Nina Campbell helped her furnish this rental, but Johnny also hired a more modern designer, Tchaik  Chassay, to add to the interiors.  Apparently, Nina had slim pickings for this house.  Today, Romenda Lodge is vacant and has been allowed to decay just like Sunninghill Park.  A group of stalkers broke into the lodge last year and their video of the house is on You Tube, although they think its Sunninghill Park instead of Sarah’s temporary home.

 

 

     
       The Queen opened her purse strings once again for the couple when she purchased this house, Birch Hall,  in 1997,  for her beloved granddaughters Beatrice, then aged 10,  and Eugenie, 9.  In the end Sarah refused to even move there.   She claimed the house, built in 1740 and on five acres, would be too expensive for her to live there and maintain it.  It was sold for $2.2 million which went into a fund for the two girls.  Birch Hall was later sold for three times as much as the girls sold it for.

 

        

After Sunninghill Park sold, for a time Sarah moved into Dolphin House, close to the Royal Lodge.  A candle left burning in the loo caused a damaging fire, after which Sarah officially moved into the Royal Lodge, along with a small apartment she kept in London.

 

 

Beside the excitement of the new Sunninghill Park finally being built, there was a bit of Hollywood news.  The series Bridgerton petitioned to build sets on a parcel of land across from Sunninghill Park for their seasons 3 and 4.   
    
   

    
The purple shows the original burned out house while the green shows the York’s Sunninghill Park estate.  The red square is where Bridgerton proposed to build their sets for season 3 and 4.  They were recently denied -- so all that planning work was for naught. 

     
     
     After Sunninghill Park, What Next?
     
   Andrew abandoned Sunninghill Park a few years after his divorce, moving into his late grandmother’s house, the Royal Lodge in Windsor Park.  It is located just three miles from Windsor Castle.

The Royal Lodge is an old property long owned by the crown. 

 

The Royal Lodge, Prince Andrew's New Home:


As with most estates owned by the Crown, the Royal Lodge has had a few different houses on the same estate.  Above is the Royal Lodge that was located there, before the current lodge was built.  What first started out as a small cottage was added on to again and again, mostly by the Prince Regent, later King George IV.  Above, at the far left is the octagonal room that still remains today.  Most everything else shown in this drawing was later demolished.

The Prince Regent, later King George IV, was the first future King to live at the Royal Lodge.

King George IV was still the Prince Regent when he moved into the Royal Lodge. It was intended to be only temporary while another country house was remodeled for him.  Instead, he continued to add onto the Royal Lodge until it was considered the largest cottage ever built with a thatched roof.  George IV doubled its size and seemed to love the lodge, considering all the time he spent there.

Have you ever read the biography of King George IV? He is quite an interesting man.   Considered the most hated King ever, he was a vile figure, known as rude, a glutton and a drug addict.  This portrait, above, looks nothing like the King who was so portly he had to sleep sitting up.    Regardless of his terrible personality he is credited with many architectural feats, most designed by John Nash.  He is considered the royal who contributed the most to English architecture.  Here are some of his achievements:   Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Marble Arch, London’s West End, Regent’s Park, Brighton Pavilion, Regent’s Canal, London Zoo, Windsor Castle and King’s College,  amongst others.


Here, the thatched roof at the Royal Lodge was removed by King George IV.   The lodge was actually a huge building but terribly flawed.  It had been built over a rotting basement along with a cesspool, as such, there was an awful stink in the house that would later prove unbearable.


King George IV hired Sir Jeffry Wyatville to renovate Windsor Castle.   Through his patronage with the King, Wyatville’s portfolio became quite large; he worked on countless well known buildings and houses in England.  He was asked by George IV to renovate the Royal Lodge, which he did by adding on a large dining room over the basement kitchen – today, this stately room is now the drawing room of the Royal Lodge and is the heart of the entire lodge.

                   

 King George IV’s successor, King William IV, demolished almost all of the large Royal Lodge in order to stop the dry rot and stink that permeated it.  The odor was said to be vile caused by a forgotten cesspool and a collapsed drain found under the lodge.    The only part of the lodge that remained was the new Wyatville Dining Room and the octagonal room, along with the long room that attached the two - seen above.

The conservatory also remained, for just a while.

 

King William IV Changes:  A photograph shows the completely changed, new Royal Lodge with its original but much reduced conservatory and a second story added in the early 1900s.  Today, the corner eight sided room remains, but the conservatory is long gone as is the roof over the long verandah outside the drawing room.

This rare side view shows the door into the octagonal room which is now gone, as is the conservatory.  If you look closely you can see behind the second story added to the Wyatville Dining Room – that area is just one story – but Bertie and the Queen Mum will add two more stories, along with the wing where the conservatory is.  That wing will house master suites.

After King William IV’s reign came Queen Victoria.  She and Albert were urged to use the Royal Lodge as their country escape instead of purchasing Osborne on the Isle of Wight.   They refused, probably because Royal Lodge was so small and the weather on the Isle of Wight is much better than at Windsor.

Another view of the Royal Lodge before the current changes were made in the 1930s.   Above the porch was a glass roof.  Later, a huge storm blew down the porch’s roof which was never replaced because Bertie loved the beautiful light that now flooded the drawing room.  At the right is the long room between the drawing room and the octagonal room.  This room was said to be exceptionally pretty with curtains that softened the corners giving it a tent like appearance.    Right now all the ivy hides the octagonal room’s roof.

After Victoria and Albert rejected Royal Lodge, the estate was mostly forgotten.  A succession of various titled people used it until 1931 when the then Duke of York aka Bertie and his wife, the future Queen Mum moved into Royal Lodge.  At that time, there was no hint that the Duke would ever become King.  His brother David, the future would be King, had his own country house nearby and the couples socialized together along with his other brothers and Elizabeth’s siblings.

The Yorks were thrilled to be able to have their own country home and they poured themselves into the renovations with the Duke especially participating in the remodeling plans.

 

The princesses Elizabeth and Margaret had rooms above the drawing room in the new second floor.   Bertie tore down the conservatory, and then opened up the Wyatville dining room by removing its partitions, revealing the original proportions of the large, now Drawing Room.  He added a new wing on each side of the original lodge.  The family lived at the Royal Lodge until Bertie was crowned King in 1936.  They spent time at Windsor Castle, but they still came to the Royal Lodge and used it as their private country home.   After the King’s death in 1952, the Queen Mum moved back into the Royal Lodge and she remained there until her own death at the lodge in 2002.        
      
    
  

     
Here is the first view of the old Wyatville Dining Room without the roof over the verandah.  The new look of this western approach was due to changes made by Bertie & the Queen Mum, then the Duke & Duchess of York.  The storm damaged verandah’s roof was removed revealing the beautiful new windows of the enlarged Drawing Room, once the Wyatville Dining Room.   Bertie designed the new windows, toying with several different plans.   Notice right above each window is an architectural detail – this was added to hide the holes which once held up the verandah’s glass roof.

 

Behind the original building is where he added another story that enlarged the Royal Lodge along with the two side wings.  From this side, the western garden side, the original lodge is quite beautiful.  But from the front, the east side, with the new wings, it looks more like a modern office building.  


The Eastern Facade - an early view, it looks like an office building


  Bertie and the Queen Mum painted the lodge the soft Windsor Pink, but Andrew now has it painted white which adds to the office building appearance of the east facade.


  

An aerial view of the Royal Lodge estate.  The yellow square shows the entrance to the estate where there are the two gatehouses and six townhouses which are painted in the charming Windsor pink.  These six houses are actually lived in by lucky employees of the Yorks.

The red square is All Saints Chapel where the Queen Mum laid in state and Princess Beatrice & Edo were recently married.  The blue square is the main house - the Royal Lodge.   The lime green square is a large original house for the groundskeeper, the stables and the greenhouses.



Here at the far right is the original groundskeeper Tudor house, behind are conservatories and stables.  Notice how huge the Cedar of Lebanon is!!


       A better aerial view of the All Saints Chapel and the Royal Lodge as seen from the front, unattractive side.  By the large purple tree is the famous Princess Elizabeth's playhouse – placed on angle.  You can even seen the parterre garden in front of the playhouse.   The playhouse was a gift from the Welsh people to the then 6 year old Princess Elizabeth.


A drawing of the original gatehouse.  

 

Later, two houses would be built, one on each side of the road as seen below:

 

 

 The Royal Lodge Gatehouses.  There are now two gate houses, with three townhouses on each side – all painted the “Windsor Pink.”



Close up of the townhouses with the units on each end being identical.  The patina bronze awning with its half light above the door is especially charming!

The gatehouses had just been built when, during a WWII air raid, a bomb hit the gatehouse, killing the gatekeeper and his wife.  The King and Queen Mum rushed home to assess the damage.  After the war, the houses were restored with the Queen Mum, giving her input to the project – it is said these charming houses were built according to her wishes and design. 

   

      

Bertie, King George VI, with Elizabeth and Margaret outside the front of the Royal Lodge.  I love this colorized photo!

  

 

 

Here the entire family sits on their vintage wicker furniture which is beyond charming!!!  Someone should recreate that chaise longue and the double seater with its striped cover. Behind are two Cedar of Lebanons planted during King George IV’s time.

 

Cecil Beaton came to the Royal Lodge to take photos of the Queen Mum among the rhododendrons which are incredibly prolific on the grounds.

 

 

More Cecil, more rhododendrons. 

 

  

 

 An earlier photo of Elizabeth and Margaret taken near the original octagon room, once the sunroom off the conservatory.   

 

 

 


Early aerial of Bertie & the Queen Mum's renovations.
 

Here is a view of the Royal Lodge after Bertie added on the eastern stories along with the two side wings.  Where the conservatory was once on the left side, is where the front door now is.   The Queen Mum’s bedroom is right off the entry on the first floor – it was placed there so that she could enjoy going directly out to the garden.  Notice all the ornaments on the roof, these were added here to mimic those on the original building.  Later, the new urns were eliminated, leaving only the original roof ornaments on the Wyatville Drawing Room.



The BowTie garden is right outside the Master Suites and is hidden behind the white stucco fence - which is hard to see from this view.  I could stare at at this photo for hours.  

1930s:  Out front is Elizabeth’s playhouse with its parterre garden and a long pergola on its left.  The swimming pool was being built here.  Later it would be moved further away from the playhouse.

 

The main building now has 30 plus rooms including seven bedrooms.  The large drawing room is 48 x 30 x 30. 

 

During Bertie and the Queen Mum’s time, the carpet at the front door that runs throughout the hall is typical royal red. The master suite is on the immediate left of the front door, with the staircase at the right.


 

An early view of the often photographed north side with the garages at ground level.   This was taken before the ornamental urns were removed from the new additions.

      

A later view after the urns were removed.   This is one rare view of the master suite windows overlooking the front courtyard, left of the front door.


 

 

The King & Queen outside the front entrance with its gravel court.  It is ironic that the two Royal families that lived in Royal Lodge during current times were both Dukes of York, except the current Duke of York will never be crowned King. 

 

 

There have been several photoshoots inside the Royal Lodge over the years, mostly in the Drawing Room which was once the heralded dining room that was added on by the Prince Regent, later King George IV.   Bertie turned the dining room into a drawing room, creating what is the most beautiful room in the house, by far.

 


Pink:  entrance hall and main staircase

Purple:  Master Suites with their private terraces

Blue:  Original Octagonal Room

Green:   Original Long/Landscape Room

Yellow:  Original Jeffry Wyatville Drawing Room

Red:  New Circular Conservatory 



              

  The Queen Mum had the Drawing Room painted this celadon green.  It was photographed in color here by Derry Moore.  The arches on the molding are repeated on the window wall across the room.  There are three large Waterford crystal chandeliers that remain today as does the rug.  Much of the furniture also remains, but was recovered and restyled for today.  Notice the beautiful art work and the large tapestry, both pieces from Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle, no doubt.

The painting above the fireplace is the Prince Regent, George IV, who after King George VI is considered the one who loved the Royal Lodge above all else.

That blue chair is still in use by Andrew, although recovered in a very similar fabric.

     

 

 

The Queen Mum in front of the room’s focal point – the large tapestry.  Sadly, this tapestry is no longer at the Royal Lodge.  I love the footstool under the console. 

 

   Another large view of the room, a mix of fabrics and colors.  You can see here the importance of the tapestry in the room.  Sad that it is now gone.

Remember, this room was designed by one of the premier architects of the time, as a dining room for the king of England in the early 1800s.  Today it is a drawing room in a country home, albeit a large one!

 

 

A better copy of the same photo.  Around the ceiling are the heraldic shields placed in almost every royal castle and home.  

Andrew later removed these.

Here are a few examples of other shields used in royal houses:

Notice here at Sandringham – the same shields around the saloon.    

 

St. George’s Hall at Windsor Castle, restored after its devastating fire – the ceiling and walls are filled with the heraldic shields.

 

At the Buckingham Palace Throne Room, the shields are much larger and dressier looking.

 

 

The newly engaged couple Margaret and Tony posed all over the house, inside and out.  Next to them is a desk. There were two, one for the King and one for the Queen.   Later, after her father died, Margaret used one of these desks.  And, after her sister married and became Queen, Margaret moved her bedroom downstairs into what was once the King’s study.

At this time there was one large rug that covered the entire room.   Later, there are now a series of rugs in this room.

 

 

The heir learning from her father while he goes over the red boxes that are delivered daily to the monarch.

Even when the Duke of York became King, the couple continued to use the Royal Lodge as a country retreat, prefering to stay there as opposed as at Windsor Castle, just three miles away.

 

                

 

Painted after the war – the King and Queen having tea, an image meant to calm a nation.

 

The princesses in front of the fireplace.  There were always blooms in the room, taken from the gardens.

 

           

Near the entrance of the drawing room.

Notice the wood floor  - it is planks.  That will later change.  Also, notice in the corner - the post with the plume at the top.

This piano?   Prince Andrew has his own to use, remember?

   

Cecil Beaton took this photo of the Queen Mum in the gorgeous gilt chair with its vivid damask fabric.

I'm not sure there chairs are still being used in the Royal Lodge, but they should be!


The Queen posing in front of the windows in the drawing room – a favorite spot for portraits.

 

   Here is Margaret posing in front of the open doors in the drawing room.   Everyone in the family will pose here!!

Between the Drawing Room and the Octagonal Room is the "long room" which was supposed to be the dining room until it proved too small.   The dining room was moved to another room east of the Drawing Room.  Bertie even needlepointed the seat cushions for the dining room chairs, that is, the main design.  He got bored doing the bland backgrounds of the needlepoint and gave that part to the nannies to finish.

      

The Long Room:  The princesses outside the Long Room between the Drawing Room and the octagonal room.


And the Queen Mum posing in front of the  Long Room with the wine cellar below it.

This long room was decorated with a wall to wall mural featuring romantic woods.  It was then forever after called by Bertie & the Queen Mum -  the "Landscape Room" because of the mural.

The princesses nanny, Marion Crawford, had written a book about the two princesses which was full of tidbits about the Royal Lodge.  She wrote that the Royal Lodge was the most modern and up to date of all the royal homes. 

    

And here is the original Octagon room which dates  from the Prince Regent’s day.   It was paneled in wood. 

.....

What was life like at the Royal Lodge during the years the Queen Mum and Margaret lived there?  Margaret’s Lady in Waiting, Anne Glenconner, gave an interview about staying at the lodge on weekends.  She said the decor (during the 1950s on) was very “tired” and since the Queen Mum didn’t want to change anything, the rooms were never updated.  Anne says that before dinner they would have drinks in the Drawing Room while the Queen Mum watched TV while standing up and everyone had to stand too whilst she did.  The Queen would drink dry martinis and laugh at the TV shows until the credits ended.  Then they would go to the Dining Room for dinner where she would begin a toasting game which lasted forever and ever.  She would name someone and if she liked them she would raise her glass over her head and everyone would follow.  If she didn’t like the person, the drink would be lowered under the table.  This toasting game went on and on with much laughing and alcohol involved. Then there would be music and dancing before the evening was over.  All through the weekend there would be bickering between the Queen Mother and Margaret who were not getting along too well during the 1970s-1980s.  They would fight over things like whether the windows should be opened or closed and other silly things.  Eventually, the night would thankfully end.

Anne is the woman who, along with her husband Colin, gave Margaret her famous beach house on their island of Mustique.

  

 

  The Interior of the Original Octagonal Room!!


While watching a documentary, I was able to screenshot this very rare photo of the original Octagonal room taken during the Queen Mother’s time.  The room was paneled and book cases were built in, filled with beautiful antique books.  There were chintz chairs with ruffled pleats.  A desk sits under a collection of round plates.  There is a large tole? chandelier and there are pink curtains with a floral leading edge.

Not seen is the large brick fireplace along one wall.

I wish I could find the actual photo!  I spent so much time searching for it and finally had to just use this very poor screenshot from the documentary. 


 

Here is a close up of the wood desk and pink seat cushion.  You can see more clearly the pale pink curtains with beautiful trim.

 

The newest Duke of York to live at the Royal Lodge.  Here they pose  directly in front of the original octagonal room.  There are no photos of what the room looks like today.   Are the wood bookshelves and paneling still there?

       
     

Here is a current google view. 

Notice all the brightly colored bushes!  The rhododendrons are in bloom!!!

This is looking up at the south side.  The drawing room #3 faces west and the entry court is on the east side labeled #6.  The original octagon room is #7 and right next to it is the original landscape room #8 with the mural wallpaper which was supposed to be the dining room.  #5 are the master suites built for King George VI and the Queen Mum with their own terraces that lead directly to the garden.  Her suite’s door is at the left of the front door which was always surprising to guests who were used to master suites being hidden away upstairs.  #4 is the young Princess Elizabeth’s playhouse with its own parterre garden out front.  Notice the building to the right of #2.   Andrew built an indoor swimming pool and I wonder if this is where it is located.  He also installed a putting green.  And at the very left, #1, are the vegetable gardens and what looks like outbuildings and stables.  There is also the original house from King George IV’s time when the head gardener lived there.    Also notice how the swimming pool was moved further away from the playhouse.

 

AND notice the new circular conservatory between #2 and #3.  This is where Sarah videos her Story Time With Fergie & Friends - when she reads children books aloud.

                              

The original Duke and Duchess of York created bedrooms for their two princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret,  above the large Drawing Room.  They also added guest suites for their many visitors, who were mostly their brothers and sisters and their spouses.  

 

Everyone, royals and their guests included, worked in the gardens.  Here the princesses tend the beds right outside the master suites.


Here the family are at the opposite side of the above garden wall.  This is the private garden right outside the Queen Mum’s first floor bedroom suites.  It must have smelled divine!!!!  

The only reason why there are so many descriptive words about the master suites is because of the book “The Little Princesses” by Marion Crawford, their governess.  Crawfie lived with the two princesses until Elizabeth was married.  She even put off her own wedding until two months before Elizabeth & Philip were married, which was when she finally retired.


When she married and retired, Crawfie was given free rent at Kensington Palace’s Nottingham Cottage  (above)  where Harry & Meghan also once lived.   Queen Mary helped furnish Nott Cottage for Crawfie and her husband, filling it with antiques and flower prints.  She was so close to the royals, they considered Crawfie family. After she retired, the Queen Mum allowed her to write anonymous stories, purely puff pieces, for women magazines, but when Crawfie published her book – The Two Princesses - it was just too far over the line for the Queen Mum.  Crawfie was kicked out of Nottingham Cottage and the Royals never talked to her again.  She later moved back to Scotland, right next door to Balmoral, but the Royals never stopped by to even say hello.  After her husband died, Crawfie attempted suicide and she passed away, alone,  in an old aged home, the end of a very sad story.   

What is amazing is the book is so innocuous.   There was nothing salacious about it at all.  It was just a love story about the royal family.   But, once the Queen Mum declared someone out of favor, that was the end of that.  Just ask Wallis Simpson about being exiled to Siberia by the Queen Mum.

But thanks to Crawfie’s book, we have many descriptions of the Royal Lodge decor. 

The Queen Mum was barely 30 when she moved into the Royal Lodge and she was thrilled to create her own country home for her young family.  Her master suite had light misty blue carpet, her favorite color, with all white apple wood furniture.  Sounds lovely!  Her bedspread was made of blue silk with lemon yellow pleats.  There was a kidney shaped dressing table topped with a piece of glass and a square mirror.  The only luxury was that all the furniture lit up when its cabinet doors opened.

Crawfie said that Bertie’s room was very masculine and resembled a cabin on a ship with a blue/green bedspread.  They both kept their rooms impeccably neat and tidy – as compared to the current Duchess of York who is especially messy.



Which bring us up to Prince Andrew, the Duke of York’s time at the Royal Lodge.


Here Eugenie poses in the entry to the Royal Lodge.  It’s hard to believe they couldn’t have landscaped this area for the wedding.  The reception took place in a large tent outside the Royal Lodge.

 

                    

The Queen Mum at All Saints Chapel

Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mum, aged 101, died in 2002 at the Royal Lodge.   Her body was taken the 100 yards to All Saints Chapel where the family came to privately pay respects before her funeral at St. Georges Chapel at Windsor.  

 

Her death paved the way for Prince Charles to move into her London home Clarence House which he had Robert Kime redecorate.  He also moved into her home in Scotland, Birkhall. 

 

But Prince Andrew got the spoils in Windsor- since Charles’ country house was in Highgrove and he had no intention of leaving it, Andrew was allowed to lease the Royal Lodge.

  In 2003, Andrew was granted a lease  – for the next 75 years.  The statistics for Royal Lodge are thus:   It is a Grade II listed building set on 92 acres in Windsor Great Park, just 3 miles from the Castle.  It has 30 rooms including 7 bedrooms  and the grand saloon (Sir Jeffry Wyatville’s Dining Room)  measuring 48x30x30.  Included in the lease is the actual lodge, a gardener’s cottage, All Saints Chapel and the six cottages at the gatehouse.  The Duke also gets accommodation for police security plus all the surrounding acreage.  Andrew built an indoor swimming pool and a driving range on the estate.  After she burned down her rental home, Dolphin House, Sarah moved into the Royal Lodge in 2006, three years after Andrew did.

The Royal Lodge was a stunning upgrade from the disaster of Sunninghill Park.  The house included beautiful gardens and the magnificence of the Jeffry Wyatville Dining Hall, now the Drawing Room.

At this time, Andrew was a well liked and respected member of the royal family and there was no bad press about this lease.  But, of course, this was long before his association with pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and his partner in crime Ghislaine Maxwell was revealed.  Had the world known about his friendship with Epstein, it is doubtful he would have been allowed to move into Royal Lodge.

I say that, but who really knows?  The Queen adores Andrew and so did his Grandmother.   He might have been allowed to keep Royal Lodge despite Epstein.



By agreement Andrew was required to refurbish the house at his own expense.  This added up to more than the estimated 7.5 million pounds.  He planned to pay for this by selling Sunninghill Park, which didn’t happen for a number of years. 

The lease also allows that it can be turned over to his two daughters at some point.

It was reported that Andrew had to borrow the money from his mummy  for the refurbishment because his house hadn’t sold at the time.

Despite Sunninghill Park not selling, in 2003 Andrew moved into the Royal Lodge.


An interesting photo – before Andrew refurbished the Royal Lodge – it was painted the Windsor Park Pink.  Here, the Queen Mum is taken to the All Saints Chapel.


The East Side

The two new wings built by the King and Queen Mum with the front entrance.   The Queen’s bedroom at the front left is where the original conservatory once was.  Here, at the left, in white, you can see the large terrace that leads out from the master suites.   Queen Elizabeth’s playhouse is at the far left and Sarah’s makeshift studio at the circular Conservatory is at the top right.

 

The side view of the house as seen from the street.  At the right is the original drawing room.  Above it is the floor that later added in the early 1900s.  Queen Elizabeth’s parents added this side wing that houses the garages. The building with the windows at the far right – is that the indoor pool that Andrew had built?

Past this indoor pool are the stables, the gardener’s house, and the vegetable gardens and conservatories.

The Duke of York is known for having a rather pompous attitude that is off putting.  It is said that is one of the reasons for their divorce, Sarah found him boorish.     The entire world got a glimpse of his arrogance during the interview where he was questioned about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and where he denied the rape charges, claiming he was unable to sweat, amongst other absurdities.  That interview was such a disaster it was the last time Andrew was seen in public until very recently.

 

To judge the Duke of York’s pampered and lavish life style, here is a classified ad for a worker to be hired at the Royal Lodge.  Listed are the some of the duties the new employee will be required to perform:

                    

1.   Packing and unpacking, pressing and preparing clothes, arranging dry cleaning, care of jewellery, running baths, assisting with dressing if required and arranging the service of tea and breakfast trays.

2.  Assist at receptions and dinners at Royal Lodge, as required by the House Manager.

3.  The cleaning, presentation and upkeep of bedrooms including: making up beds, changing linen, washing and dry cleaning of bedding (under the direction of the Housekeeper), cleaning and re-lining cupboards, drawers  and wardrobes.

The successful applicant will be one of three housemaids working for Andrew at Royal Lodge.

 

It’s amazing that the Housekeeper will overlook the new housekeeper’s making of the beds.

Any takers? 

The pay is paltry.  The public was especially galled that the aide had to draw baths and help dress Andrew and take care of his jewelry. 


 

WHAT????

 

Here is the lodge under construction when Andrew was remodeling it.  The Windsor Park Pink that the Queen Mum loved gave way to the white of today.  

NOTICE:   The octagonal room and the Landscape/Long room next to it are originals – seen in their original gray brick.   

The rooms behind the octagon are the master suites that Bertie and the Queen Mum added onto the house when they first moved in in 1932.   At the far left is the beautiful circular conservatory with its double ring of arched windows. 

   

In 2019 shortly before his downfall, Andrew invited the Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua to lunch.  Now totally renovated and freshly painted the Western facade is as beautiful as ever.  The green box are striking against all the white.

What I like about this photo is you can see the architectural detail that is on the roof.   What seems like urns from afar actually look like straps that connect from the roof down to the first floor.  Interesting.   These urns and straps were once placed around the entire lodge, but they were removed by Bertie on the East, North, and South facades.

  

 A very recent photo of the western facade.  The lodge looks so pretty from this side with the huge, old Cedar of Lebanon softening the left side of the facade.

 One of the major changes architecturally is the large round conservatory at the very left.  In this photo you can really see how it mimics the original octagonal room at the right.   Notice the beauty of the new conservatory – its double row of arched windows.  Just beautiful.  

Look again how the house’s rear facade was before the new conservatory was built:   

   

BEFORE – during the Queen Mother’s years the 1930s – 2000s:  you can see there is no circular room at the left rear.   But, instead, the terrace ended in a circular form which is where the new conservatory was built.

And during Princess Margaret’s and Tony Snowdon’s engagement,  they sit on that circular terrace which will become the circular conservatory.  This circular terrace had a bench which fit around curved terrace and a round stone table. 

          

The stone terrace today.  Where there once was a glass roof over the verandah, today the area is open to the sky, letting in all the light to the Wyatville Drawing Room.  Also, notice how the circular conservatory appears to be freestanding.  Also notice how the top windows actually open!



Prince Andrew’s Wyattville Drawing Room:

    

LOVE!!!!   Princess Eugenie posed in the Wyattville Drawing Room before her wedding. Today the walls are still green, but it is a much more softer green than during the Queen Mum’s era.  The gothic trim is now a soft ivory.  It is just so beautiful!!

Instead of one huge Oriental rug, they have layered several rugs in the large drawing room.  This is a great money saver.  An important rug the size of this room would cost a small fortune.

OR at second glance, are these rugs layered over the original rug????  I think they are, as you will see later.

At the windows are new, darker silk curtains.  The three crystal Waterford chandeliers remain from the Queen Mum’s time.  The sconces that flank the large doors also remain from the earlier years.

Is the furniture the same that the Queen Mum had?  It’s hard to tell, but I’m sure Andrew was able to keep some of his grandmother’s furniture in here and also recover the upholstered pieces. 

This is such a wonderful photo to study all the gothic arches that are repeated throughout the drawing room.   This one decorative element was used inside and out – first designed by Sir Jeffry Wyatville.

              

 

A close up of the beauty, Princess Eugenie.  Through the door is the original entrance called the Landscape Room and past that is the original octagonal room. 

In the drawing room, it looks like there are at least three seating arrangements here.  One seating group is near the doors, one by the fireplace on the left and another nearer the back wall, not seen here.

 

 

As with everyone who has lived here – you must have your portrait taken by the French doors.   But, this particular photo is important because you can see the floor – a beautiful Versailles patterned wood floor.  Remember during the Queen Mum’s time here, the floor was wood planks.  It must have been damaged and needed repair.

I’m not sure why they want to cover up so much of the wood floor?  I would use fewer and smaller rugs and let the floor breathe and shine, it looks so gorgeous.

 

 

 

Eugenie - and here is another portrait taken by the French doors.

Beautiful girl with a beautiful soul.  

Two good things came out of this failed marriage – their daughters Beatrice and Eugenie.

 

 

 

The sofas are a caramel color with a fringe detail. The quality is impeccable. These are not sofas you go to Pottery Barn for.

  The paintings from the Queen Mum era remain, especially the important one above the fireplace of the unpopular George IV who is considered the creator of Royal Lodge.  The rug under Eugenie’s feet looks like the original one, it appears new rugs are just layered over the larger original rug.

Also, it appears that all the other paintings on the eastern side remain in the lodge.  On the mantel is the clock that was placed there by the Queen Mum, along with the candelabras that the Yorks received as a wedding gift back in 1923.


Here is a close up of the original rug – it does remain today, partially covered up by other rugs.


   Another, older, fashion photoshoot with Eugenie.  Original blue/green chairs from Bertie and the Queen Mum are seen here, reupholstered.  Also the skirted table is seen for the first time. 



              

 

Through the main room double doors past the red chair, you can see into the Landscaped/Long  Room where there is a round wood table filled with photographs and a large crystal chandelier which hangs over the table. Beyond is the Octagonal Room.

               

       Because the Landscape Room was too small to be the dining room, Bertie and the Queen Mum added a dining room north of the Drawing Room, where it was above the then-basement kitchen.  There were no interior photos of the new dining rooms, that is, until Sarah started her You Tube  "StoryTime with Fergie & Friends" video channel.  

It was said that dining room walls were painted a pale yellow and the table is a large oval.  But, that has changed today, as you will later see.         

 

  

After the wedding, the reception was held at night in a tent or, as the English say – in a Marquee – out in the backyard of the Royal Lodge.  Mr. and Mrs. Jack Brooksbank in their evening finery.  At first glance, it looks like they have closed the doors to the entrance hall room and set up a bar.  But….when I lightened up the photo….

 

 

 

   Here is the photo lightened up which revealed a woman taking a selfie by the window…which means this is the back wall of the drawing room, the wall where the Queen Mum had a huge antique tapestry.   What happened to the tapestry?  It’s obvious it is no longer there, instead a clock and mirror are now against the doors.

I wonder where the tapestry is?  Maybe it suffered from dry rot or mold?   Maybe it was out being cleaned? 

But then, I found a new German video of Sarah which was filmed in the Wyattville Drawing Room which confirmed the tapestry is long gone.   I can’t tell you how beautiful the room looked in this video, in HD quality.   It looked gorgeous and it explains why this “lodge” has remained such a favorite of the Royal family.


Those curtains – the silk matches the velvet on the sofa.  On the sofa are an array of silk and velvet pillows.  In the rear, instead of the tapestry and console is the large long clock.  Beautiful.  But I miss the tapestry.

Notice the beautiful lighting in the room -  it is uplights that showcase the arches and moldings.

      

Again, the quality of the upholstery is superb.  Notice how thick the down filled cushion is. 

 

 

Behind Sarah where the tapestry once was, is some the piano from Sunninghill Park.  Remember?



There it is and it is such a beautiful piano.  An antique.   I wonder what else from Nina Campbell's decor ended up at the Royal Lodge?



 

Notice the second sofa is covered in a broad stripe fabric.

 

From this angle you can see the seating area around the fireplace with the desk that is filled with objects.

 

Another view of the back wall with the clock and the antique piano.  There is also an antique mirror on the back wall.

 

 

 

Amazing that this room was designed several centuries ago as a dining hall and how beautiful it remains today.  I just love this room!

 

Let’s move to other areas of the Royal Lodge.

The Front Facade:   Here is Sarah posing in her wedding reception dress.  I believe this is the hall that runs along the front of the house, with guest suites above and to the left.  At the end of the hall, it looks like it leads to a service area, maybe the kitchen and dining room?  Sarah looks so pretty in this dress!

 

 

At the same window in the same hall on the wedding weekend.  The next day there was a carnival on the grounds of the lodge.   These windows are at the front of the lodge in the courtyard.


This came from a zoom call with Princess Beatrice.  I have no proof,  but I think it comes from the front entry by the master suites.  What makes me think that is the molding – see below:


The molding with its top plume against the wall is exactly the same as that found in the Wyattville Drawing Room. 


 

Through Sarah’s instagram feed she has shown more of the Royal Lodge than everyone over the years put together!  During the Pandemic, Sarah started a You Tube channel where she reads a children’s book each day.  The story readings are filmed in different rooms of the Royal Lodge and as such, we have seen more of the inside of the Royal Lodge than ever before.

The only problem is that you can barely see the rooms through all the set decor – as you will see.  Sarah’s You Tube channel, Storytime With Fergie & Friends, has become very popular worldwide.  She does have a charming, childlike personality that is perfect for the sort of zany persona needed when you read to children. 

Let's first look at the Circular Conservatory – added onto the Royal Lodge by Andrew.  Here is where she films many of her videos.


The Circular Conservatory located off the Drawing Room’s verandah.

     

Here, Sarah stands in the doorway of the Circular Conservatory.   You can see the long verandah off the Wyatville Drawing Room behind her. 


  

 

   Here, you can see the quite beautiful windows in the Circular Conservatory.  The windows mimic the gothic arch motif found throughout the house.  

     

  Sarah has turned the Circular Conservatory into her personal Instagram studio – and in turn, creating a total mishmash of sloppiness.  Obviously the servant that they hired does NOT clean up after Sarah!  LOL!!

 

Here, you can see the white flagstones on the floor.  The room is set with vintage wicker furniture upholstered in toile fabric and a hydrangea fabric.  But in all honesty, the room is a mess and you will see that most rooms in the house are a mess, thanks to Sarah, I’m afraid. 

 

 

 

In another You Tube video, the conservatory looks even more of a mess – which is a shame because the wicker furniture looks really wonderful.



The other side of the room where there aren’t windows, the mess continues.   It is actually quite funny – this gorgeous, centuries old royal home is subject to the same hording disease that all of us suffer from until we finally clean and purge decades of collected stuff.

 

I just LOVE the lampshade on the table!  Did you know that’s the newest home decor accessory??   The bigger the lampshade the better!  And always pair it with a lamp with a too small shade.  And lots of fake roses too.  And the shelves are so well staged!    I mean, I am just laughing at the way she has cluttered up such a beautiful room.  You would think that before they film a new video they would at least tidy up?

 

The Dining Room:


It was said the new dining room built by Bertie and the Queen Mum had pale yellow walls and an oval table.  But here, you can see the walls are a Tuscany gold.  Double doors open up onto the room that is off the Wyatville Drawing Room.  Twin lamps sit on matching small bamboo tables and there is either a sage green chair or sofa next to the bamboo table.   Behind Sarah – try to see the dark wood and leather dining chair that she is sitting on.   Try to ignore all the Fergie Story Time decor.



One more of the Dining Room – you can see what looks like old flags on the floor.  The chair has old leather and metal studs. 


I am so sorry for the photos – I wish we could just see the rooms as they really are without Sarah and her Storytime decor.  But conversely, without Sarah and her Storytime videos, we wouldn’t get to see these rooms in the Royal Lodge at all.


The Kitchen:

                 

And, thanks to Instagram, here is a view of the kitchen.  LOL.   

And here, Sarah is cleaning up!!!  Somehow I find that hard to believe.

She certainly has demystified royalty.

The kitchen is typically 2000s when the lodge was redecorated.


The Sitting Room:

This room is the most important coup from Sarah.  It is of the original master suites.  The description of its location by Crawfie in her book The Two Princesses and in other books such as Royal Lodge of Windsor by Helen Cathcart is verified in these photos of Sarah taken from various documentaries and interviews.

There are a lot of photographs of this room with its green plaid curtains and Tuscany gold walls.


 In this first photo - there is the main stairs on the right of the front door while on the left is the master suite that was once the Queen Mums.  The stairs are wood treads with a runner that appears to have a dotted pattern.  Instead of the royal red runner that was once in the hall, it is now a golden carpet.  The trim around the door is painted green.

 

The room was tidied up for this video.

 

 Here is another view that shows the shape of the room with its front windows and side windows that look onto the private terrace.

 

But, have no fear!   Here on another video, the true room is shown before it was tidied up.  The same chair in the corner looks a bit worse for wear. 

There’s a lamp in need of a shade. HEY!!! I know where you can find a shade!!!  Go look in the circular conservatory!!!

On a design note:   If you notice, all the windows throughout the house have the exact same handles that open them.  This was a clue that helped me identify which rooms belonged to the house.

Thanks to a cover story in this week’s People Magazine, you can see the room as it might always look all neat and tidy and so pretty!


Sarah sits in front of a beautiful leather topped antique desk with a green velvet chair.  Sarah looks so pretty still.  Fresh flowers are put in vases and this lamp has a matching silk shade.  But again, WHY is there another lamp without a shade??  It's really getting comical!! 

The sitting room/master suite has a French door that opens directly to the private garden terrace.


In another photo, you can see how People staged the room, bringing in a cute bar cart.  Notice how the trim is painted green in this room - to match the curtains.

I wish there were more photographs just like these,  so we could really see the house.

 

 From another interview in this room with Suze Orman.  Suze sits across from the leather topped desk, next to a large bookcase.

 

 

 And here, Sarah talks to Suze sitting in front of the fireplace with its trim painted green.

 

Could this suite of rooms really be Bertie & the Queen Mum’s original first floor suites????   I’m sure it is.

See below:

King George VI,  AKA Bertie & the Queen Mum’s suite of rooms were built where the original conservatories once were.   The French doors in the room with Sarah and the green plain curtains are shown here, overlooking the private garden terrace.   



Bedroom:

     

 

Is this another room from the Queen Mum’s original Master Suite on the first floor?    Is that the Queen’s original vanity,  topped with Sarah’s typical tchotkies?   Is that the original apple wood furniture that the Queen Mum had in her own master suite?  In the mirror, there’s even another piece of the light wood – which is also seen below.

 

The other side of the room with the old apple wood furniture cabinet seen behind Sarah.   The painting has a beautiful antique giltwood frame which can be barely seen amongst all the accessories.  Seriously!!!!!  What is with all the CLUTTER??

 

Is this the bedroom of the original ground floor master suites?  I'd stake my life on it.

More rooms are seen in Sarah’s You Tube Story Time videos:

   

Sitting Room:

Here is another sitting room, with wallpaper and a fireplace.  Even the Christmas decorations look messy.  LOL!!!


Another photo in the same room – it looks like a chair is upholstered in the wallpaper fabric.  Here, it looks quite pretty as does Sarah.

                

 

Yet Another Sitting Room:

  

And yet another sitting room – there are SO many!   Here this room has red stripped wallpaper and striped furniture with plaid curtains.

 

And yet one more room:

In this one sitting room  – there is a gorgeous antique double chest that for sure has been in the lodge since the Queen Mother’s time.  It is framed by two windows with a beautiful red and cream toile curtain.  I wish we could see more of this upstairs room.   It is most likely one of the rooms that sits right over the Wyatville Drawing Room and overlooks the back yard.

 

 

Factoid about Sarah's doll Little Red:

The story of Sarah’s doll, Little Red, is a great one  - and one that most Americans don’t know.   A mother of a child who was terribly injured in the 1995 Oklahoma terrorist bombing had asked Sarah if she could help her child.   Sarah brainstormed and a few days later came up with a drawing of a doll in her own image named Little Red which FAO Schwartz then made up and sold.  She would donate the profits to that child and others, under a group called Chances for Children.   Some years later, Chances for Children had an office in the World Trade Center.  On the morning of the 9/11 bombing, Sarah was 15 minutes late to her office that morning as she stopped to gift a Little Red doll to a child on the street.  Incredibly, Little Red saved her life that day.   During that horrible day, Sarah's office had no survivors, but a Little Red doll floated down to the debris on the ground.  A fireman saw it and picked it up, saving it for the little girl whom he thought owned it.  Later on CNN, Larry King recognized the doll and exclaimed – “that’s Fergie’s Little Red!”

Sarah shows Little Red laying in the debris on 9/11.  


Sarah called the news station saying it was not someone’s toy so that they wouldn’t waste time trying to find her owner.   

Today that original Little Red, above, can be seen in the 9/11 Ground Zero Museum.

One little doll, two terrorism bombings.  An amazing story.  You call still buy the Little Red doll and story books.  And Little Red is often showcased on the Storytime with Fergie & Friends show.


The Landscape at the Royal Lodge:

 

 Beautiful fields.

 

You can see the Royal Lodge through the trees.  This bench was a gift to the Queen Mum on her 100th birthday. 



Gravel paths link the garden spaces.  So beautiful.

 

  The gardens are extensive and the Yorks are often photographed out there in this backyard.  Here this other bench is used for many photoshoots.

Which girl do you think is prettier?  Just curious. Eugenie looks so much like her father and is also so handsome!   I’ve always thought Beatrice was beautiful.  She looks like her great-great-great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. Beatrice has such gorgeous thick strawberry red hair and huge round eyes.  I also love her birthdate – 8/08/88, born at 8:18 am.  Of course – it was not a natural birth but induced. But still, while so many people in the world know her birthdate – who knows Eugenie’s birthdate?

   

Point taken.

     By the way, it is March 23,1990.

 

Nearby the bench is this swing, also used in a lot of photoshoots.

 

 

 

The gardens have many majestic Cedar of Lebanons – some were planted in the Prince Regent’s time.  It was a branch from one of these magnificent trees that fell down on the verandah's glass roof and shattered it.

             

 

              

 Eugenie with yet another gorgeous cedar.



 In the gardens, a dress ball for Beatrice’s 18th birthday.


   Sarah’s sister rides the merry-go-round on Day Two of Eugenie’s wedding celebration with a carnival set up on the Royal Lodge’s lawn.



Princess Margaret & Tony in the back gardens. 

 

 

 

Decades later, Sarah in the same gardens. 

 

 Amidst all the family happiness, scandals were brewing.

   

 Around four years ago, the Duke of York was seen smiling without a care in the world, but his world was on its way to total collapse.    Besides all the bad press about the sale of Sunninghill Park and the $3 million overpayment, there was more damaging press against the Duke of York.


In 2011, Andrew’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein was revealed, along with the news that Epstein had paid off a 15,000 pound debt of Sarah Ferguson’s.   Although the palace denied any wrongdoing by Andrew concerning Epstein, he broke off all ties with the convicted pedophile.


Besides his relationship with Epstein, he also came under fire for dealing with arms traders from countries such as Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain and others.

Andrew Johnson, of CAAT, said of the Prince Andrew, the Duke of York:

"The prince has consistently used his position to promote arms sales and boost some of the most unpleasant governments in the world, his arms sales haven’t just given military support to corrupt and repressive regimes. They've lent those regimes political and international legitimacy."

It makes one wonder, why IS a Duke of the Royal Family involved in arms trade????  Those in England wondered the same thing.

Andrew was forced to step down as an Envoy of Britain in 2011.

There was more bad news to come about Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein.

The charge of rape by Andrew became public.  

After so many years of whispers and lawsuits and denials from Buckingham Palace, Andrew went in front of the camera for a TV interview in 2019 in order to deny any charges of rape.



Andrew timed the interview after Eugenie’s wedding so that she would not be affected.  During the interview, Andrew denied all charges, saying he went to a pizza party on the night of the accused rape and the fact that he can NOT sweat due to war injuries was used to proclaim his innocence.

Seriously.

The next day, photos of a sweating Andrew flooded instagram proving he had lied about not being able to sweat (I’ll save you the disgusting photos of the sweating Duke.)

After the disastrous interview, the palace tried to ignore the public’s cries for him to be demoted, but no longer able to ignore the public's outrage, the family finally capitulated and took away all of Andrew’s royal duties.

Andrew has only been seen in public a few times since, such as at his father’s funeral where even then there was brouhaha over whether he should wear his military uniform since Prince Harry wasn’t allowed to wear his.  Who was the biggest disgrace to their military uniform?  Harry who chose to step down from public life because it made his wife feel so uncomfortable OR Andrew who was accused of raping an underaged girl? 

The question was never answered and both men wore suits. 

 

Beatrice & Edo's Wedding

With the worst luck in the wedding stakes, Beatrice's plans were first disrupted by Covid and then her father's interview.


Eugenia and Jack had a royal wedding, along with a carriage ride around Old Windsor and  worldwide TV coverage.  Her sister Beatrice and her intended Edo were set to have an even grander royal wedding – until the Pandemic struck. 

Instead of marrying in Windsor, Beatrice & Edo planned a London wedding at St. James Chapel, perhaps because Beatrice lives at St. James Palace.

 

 One of the older palaces, many less known royals and staff live here.  It is one palace away from Clarence House where Charles & Camilla live.

 

 

St. James Palace has a long history for royal weddings and christenings.  Here - Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were married in the chapel.


 And how often is it that you can be married in the same chapel you had your christening?   Here is baby Beatrice at St. James Chapel.  More recently Princes George and Louis were christened here too.

 

 What the Royal Chapel at St. James looks like today after a renovation.


Instead of celebrating the wedding of Beatrice & Edo at St. James and later their reception at Buckingham Palace's Gardens - it was all canceled with no word of when it would be rescheduled.

Therefore, it was a shock to the world when press reports came out that the couple had been quietly married.  Where, you ask?

Why at Royal Lodge's private chapel, All Saints Chapel, of course!



The All Saints Chapel was built in 1825 and it is less than a hundred yards from the Royal Lodge!!  It was where both the Queen Mum and Prince Philip laid in state before their funerals.


 

It is as picturesque as you would expect a country chapel in England to be.

 

The Queen Mum died in her sleep at the Royal Lodge and she laid here at the chapel.

 

But, in truth, it wasn’t just the pandemic that ruled over Beatrice and Edo’s wedding.

 

After Princess Eugenie and Jack’s wedding, it seemed all was just wonderful with Andrew and Sarah.  Sarah was back in good graces with the royal family and Andrew had been given an honor by his mother.

Looming though was his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and the charges of rape by one of Jeffrey’s victims.  The outrage against Andrew was growing louder and louder.

There was no way to ignore the cries any longer.  This latest scandal to befall the Yorks was not something Andrew could blame on his wife and her poor choices, this was all his.   And so, he gave that interview which was a complete disaster.  He denied all the charges, but no one really believed him.   The fallout was swift.  All his royal duties were taken away from him.  Andrew was totally disgraced.   And there was the innocent Beatrice, engaged to be married.  What to do?




An early illustration of the chapel.

    

 

Eugenie and Jack had their royal wedding at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.



After the interview, Prince Andrew disappeared from the public's eye.  The FBI still want to talk with him about the charges, but so far he has not done this.  He needs to clear his name both in America and in England.  If he is guilty, he needs to pay the price.

And so, this was the atmosphere around the Royal Lodge and Beatrice's wedding.

In the end, it was decided that Beatrice and Edo would quietly marry in the Royal Lodge's All Saints Chapel.

It was kept a secret.  There were no photos released of Andrew or Sarah or any of their other family or friends at the event.  It was said only 30 people attended.

Despite the scandal of her father looming, the wedding was beautiful.

When the pictures came it – I literally gasped.  They were so gorgeous.  It was so romantic.  All the details were incredible.  The love Beatrice showed her grandmother, the Queen, was incredible and vice versa.    

 


 

The couple leaving the chapel, with the doorway surrounded by flowers.  Absolutely gorgeous.

      

 

 

I love this photo – the only one of any family guest released.  Notice the brace on the door and those flowers on the ledge.  Beautiful.

 And notice the sheer happiness of her grandparents!!

 

A larger photo of the chapel.


   The couple walking home to the Royal Lodge.

Edo choose this e.e. cummings poem to be read to Beatrice at the wedding.  I love this poem: 

I carry your heart with me

(i carry it in my heart)

i am never without it

(anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear no fate

(for you are my fate, my sweet)

i want no world

(for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Gasp.  I LOVE that poem!!  A second one was read:

     
     Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand'ring bark,

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle's compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me prov'd,

I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

 What a romantic he is!!!!  

 

  

It was the details of the wedding that were most surprising and such a huge one at that!   It was revealed that Beatrice chose to wear one of her grandmother’s favorite gowns to her wedding, one that the Queen had worn several times before.    The dress was altered in several ways, particularly – the fullness and hem.  The petticoat was removed and a shorter, large hem was added. 

 

  The dress was designed by Norman Hartnell.  He had designed the Queen’s wedding dress and her coronation gown along with Princess Margaret’s wedding gown.   The Queen’s dressmaker and close friend Angela Kelly helped to redesign the dress for Beatrice, to bring it a bit more up to date. 


One major difference were the sleeves.  Originally the dress was sleeveless.  Kelly added the feminine, puffed sleeves to the dress.


OMG!  I just LOVE how the dress was altered to make it more 2020s than 1950s.   Those sleeves!


 

Here, the Queen wore the dress to the Opening of Parliament in 1966.


And just as exciting as the borrowed dress was her choice of the borrowed tiara.  For family weddings, usually the Queen picks out a few tiaras for the bride to choose from and this time, Queen Mary’s fringe tiara was included.




What was especially sweet about the choice of tiara was that the Queen had worn the same tiara at her own wedding.


The Queen Mary Fringe Tiara was made in 1919 using a convertible necklace that Queen Victoria had given her grand daughter-in-law Mary.  At the time, the fringe tiara was very much in vogue.



The tiara was given to Queen Mary by Queen Victoria on Mary and King George V's wedding day.  Originally the tiara was two necklaces but Queen Mary had it made into the tiara.

Later as Queen Mary, the tiara was given to the Queen Mother who wore it often,  especially during her coronation year in 1937.


The Queen Mother, wearing her new gifted tiara from her mother-in-law Queen Mary.

The Queen Mother lent her fringe tiara to two brides, her daughter, later Queen Elizabeth, when she married Philip.  Later in 1973, the Queen Mother lent her fringe tiara to her granddaughter, Anne, later the Prince Royal, when she was married for the first time to Captain Mark Phillips

 

  

There is an interesting back story about the fringe tiara on Queen Elizabeth’s wedding day, above.  A few hours before her wedding, the tiara broke and was rushed out to a jeweler to be fixed.  You can see how it is not properly connected, right at the middle of the tiara.  Actually, it was later discovered that the tiara didn’t break.  Since it had been made out of two necklaces it was constructed to come apart. 


 

 No one knew when it snapped apart that it was meant to be that way and instead, the tiara was presumed to have broken.  You would think that someone would have run out and just gotten another of their multitudes of diamond tiaras, but no, Elizabeth wore the tiara with the visible flaw.

                       


Here you can see the tiara was properly put back together. When the Queen Mum died in 2002, the present Queen Elizabeth inherited the fringe tiara.   She has worn it a few times since, most notably here in the official portrait as the Queen of New Zealand.  Look close – she is actually wearing TWO fringes – the tiara and the City of London Fringe necklace!!!


   

Here is a close up of the City of London Fringe Necklace.  Unlike most fringe necklaces, this fringe extends all the way around and can not be worn as a tiara.  It was given to the then Princess Elizabeth as a wedding gift in 1947 by different leaders of London.

 

 

  While Diana and Charles’ wedding will always remain my favorite royal wedding, Beatrice and Edo’s is its runner up.  It’s actually a very close contender to my favorite because the couple seem truly in love.   All the sweet sentiment, the acknowledgement that going ahead with a family only wedding was best because of Covid and also because of her father’s possible charges and complete fall from grace – it’s hard not to feel badly for Beatrice.  

Still, she proved to be one very strong woman.   Edo faced his own tribulations.   He was involved in a relationship with an American architect when he met Beatrice and he had a child with her, although they never married.  Her father sold his story and tons of photos of Edo and his girlfriend and son to the tabloids and trashed his reputation.   I assume they never married for a reason?    He seems an interesting man on his own right, a property developer and interior/furniture designer.  Here are a few photos of his work:


His aesthetic is a mix of old and new, classic and modern.   It is such a wonderful look for the new generation coming up in England living inside these great buildings – but wanting a more up to date decorative look.


A dining room with an unusual see through wine bar. 


Edo loves Versailles patterned wood floors AND he absolutely adores white marble – it’s everywhere in his designs.



See?   To see more of Edo’s work, go HERE


Going back to the Royal Lodge, now that Eugenie and Jack have a baby boy August and Beatrice and Edo are expecting their own baby, there is one place they will be sure to use at the Royal Lodge, ‘Y Bwthyn Bach’, or The Little House.


Princesses Margaret & Elizabeth with their brand new Wendy House at the Royal Lodge.  Notice the doorbell and the name of the house painted above the door:  Y Bwthyn Bach.  And through the front door foyer is the staircase.


The finished Wendy House.

 

When Queen Elizabeth was just six years old and not yet even moved into the Royal Lodge, the people of Wales gave her a playhouse called Y Bwthyn Bach, The Little House in Welsh.  In England, playhouses are called Wendy Houses after Peter Pan’s Wendy.

At 22’ wide and 15’ tall, the playhouse was built in two-fifths scale and was fully functional with electric lighting and running water!!!  It was furnished with its own cutlery, utensils and furniture!  For many years it was the private domain of the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret who kept it tidy and neat.   Today, four generations will have played in the house and most interestingly, Princess Beatrice completely renovated it under her grannie’s instructions.

 

 

   Packed up and ready to be moved to the Royal Lodge.


Elizabeth's grandparents came to visit.


The architect who designed the playhouse had previously built his daughter her own Wendy house, not quite as grand at the Princess’s one.  When the Welsh gifted Princess Elizabeth, it was never believed she would one day be Queen – that would happen a few years later when her uncle David abdicated the throne for the love of his life, Wallis Simpson.

In 1932 when the playhouse was built, Britain was suffering from a great depression.  The laborers were exclusively Welsh as were the materials used.


Before the cottage made it to the Royal Lodge, it was presented at a tradeshow, the Daily Mail’s Ideal Home Exhibition at Olympia, for the public to see and enjoy it.  But prior to that happening, while in transit from Wales, the tarp covering its thatch roof caught fire and it had to be repaired before it could be moved to its final home at the Royal Lodge.



The playhouse after the fire.  You can actually see the floor plan with the roof gone.  The central stairs with the bedroom on the left and the bath on the right.


Here, the thatched room is replaced.

  Thankfully, a small insurance policy had been taken out on the Wendy House, and all damages were repaired!!


The Wendy House so captured the imagination of the British public that replica toys were made.  Here was a small model for dolls.  Occasionally, one of these doll houses will pop up for sale on Etsy.


     The playhouse at the Royal Lodge.


The front door bell retains its glass covering over “Press.”  

 

The playhouse had the same layout of an actual Welsh cottage. There was a front hallway with the kitchen on the right and the Little Chamber on the left.  Beatrice was in charge of its renovation, with new paintwork, the roof was rethatched and the entire cottage was rewired!  The playhouse was originally blue, but now it is a pale green – found in the fabrics and curtains.



On the video, Beatrice shows off the front bay window with the small print fabrics.

Most interesting, the Queen was very involved in the decision making.  Beatrice said “Granny was very clear that for all the fabric she wanted very tiny designs on it. It’s such a little house that she wanted little flowers and patterns.  It’s beautiful. I’ve been lucky enough to play here and now Granny’s a great-granny, so now Savannah can enjoy it too.”  

 

 AFTER: The newly designed kitchen/breakfast room with its special dishes and tea pots. 

I would have done ANYTHING!!!  to have a playhouse like this!!!!!!

 

 


Before:   The dining room with the blue & white checks.  I’m afraid Mark Sikes & I like this version better than the After version. 

In the dining area there are lattice windows, blue and white checked curtains, blue carpets and white walls.

 


After:  Not much changed in the kitchen.  They left the original appliances that date to the 1930s.

                                                 

In the kitchen there are pots and pans and food cans, brooms, and even a packet of Epsom salts.    It came with a gas oven and a refrigerator – both operational.   To keep the princesses’ clothes clean – there is a washing machine, a mangle(!) and an apron.  Additionally, there is a tiny telephone that once worked!



Today:  The blue carpet was kept on the stairs.  Aren’t these incredible?  Notice the brass rods on the risers to keep the carpet in place!!

 

BEFORE:  Upstairs is a bedroom and a bathroom which has hot and cold running water with a heated towel rail and electricity – all very modern for a normal sized house.


 

 

AFTER:  Just like the Queen wanted, greens and tiny flowers in pink.  Here the carpet has been changed to green.

 

In the bedroom, there is also a tiny radio, an oak dresser and a mini blue & gold china set.  When it came to furnishing the playhouse, no detail was overlooked.  There was even linen with the initial “E” on it.  The bookcase was filled with Beatrix Potter books.

 

 

 

BEFORE:   There are no Afters of the bathroom, but I assume it has not changed much.

 



It was written that the princesses loved the house and spent a lot of time there cleaning it up.  Adults were allowed in only by invitation.   During the following decades, each generation played there, first Elizabeth and Margaret’s children, then their grandchildren.

 


       Waiting for its new thatch.  

                                                                                    Is Sarah still living at Royal Lodge despite their divorce decades ago?
In a word, yes.
                                                                                  It's not like Sarah hasn't tried to break free.  Sort of.  In 2014, the couple spent over $18 million on an exclusive ski lodge in Verbier.  Sarah would live there, the other Yorks would visit.
 


The well known ski chalet, Chalet Helora,  was bought by both Sarah and Andrew to provide yet another nest egg for their daughters.   Sarah loved the property so much she started proceedings to get Swiss citizenship.  Two years ago, the ex couple were accused of not paying the remainder owed on the chalet, over $6 million plus.  It was announced the Queen would not be paying that debt and I suppose Sarah stopped the citizenship application because she then moved back into the Royal Lodge yet again.  

The chalet rented for 22,000 pounds a week - and the ex couple used to rent there before they attempted to purchase the chalet.  In the end it was yet another house that spelled disaster for the couple.  

First, there was Sunninghill Park, then there was Dolphin House that Sarah burned down, Chalet Helora which bankrupted them,  which leaves the Royal Lodge - which the crown provides protection for them.  This house owned by Royals will be Andrew's until it passes to either Beatrice or Eugenie.  Not sure where Sarah will live out her golden years.

 One tell-tale sign that the Duke of York had fallen so far from grace was when it was noticed his standard (or flag) was no longer flying outside of the Royal Lodge when he was staying here.


Here you can plainly see the Duke's standard is flying meaning he is inside the house.



Later, after his disastrous interview when he refused to take any responsibility for his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and where he adamantly stated he was innocent of all the rape charges ---the standard no longer flies and the flagpole was even taken down, which says it all. 


I suppose if Sarah wanted to, she could return to the home of her father's where she grew up:   Dummer Down.
                                                                                                                                                              Dummer Down Farm.   It's actually on Air BnB so you can rent a vacation spot and pretend you are Sarah!  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           It's actually a charming spot and the house is quite cute:
                                                                                                                                                                            Living area.                                                                          

 

 Kitchen.

 

 

 

Bedroom.


Her half brother Andrew runs the farm.  To rent it go to www.dummerdownfarm.com


Finally, it all comes full circle.


Sarah is on the cover story on this week's People magazine.   Why does this bridge seem so similar?

Doesn't it seem strange that while I am working on this story Sarah is on the cover of People posing in front of the bridge found on the old, original Sunninghill Park estate that was to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's marital home, but instead it burned down?



Yep, there it is, still standing, and looking as romantic as ever!

And there she is.   Standing at the bridge on the property where she started it all - Sunninghill Park.  Although, not a word of that is told in the magazine.  

Somehow Sarah always seems to bounce back but this time, there doesn't seem to be a path for Andrew to bounce back to.  Unless he finds a way to prove he is innocent of these rape charges, they are going to haunt him to the end of his days. If the charges are not true, it is tragic, but if they are true, it is even more of a tragedy.



I hope you have enjoyed this story as much as I did while researching it!!