In light of the increasing number of spurious "royal experts" infiltrating the media, Princess Palace has created this online testing and training center/centre (a.k.a. trivia quizzes) to facilitate the recognition and certification of actual royal experts. Anyone receiving certification may add C.R.E. (certified royal expert) after one's name. This site is created and maintained entirely for fun. Its creator asserts no authority for certifying anyone's qualifications for anything. ;)

12 March 2011

British Royal Residences Answers

1. Which of the Queen's homes was built by her great-great grandfather to remind him of his homeland?
The Queen's home in Scotland, Balmoral Castle, was built by Prince Albert, German-born consort of Queen Victoria. The couple visited Scotland shortly after their marriage and decided that they wanted to make a home there. However, they preferred to find something more rural than the existing royal Scottish palaces. When they purchased the Balmoral Estate near Aberdeen, Prince Albert oversaw the design and construction of new castle there, drawing upon his boyhood home, Schloss Rosenau in Coburg, for inspiration. Balmoral is a private home and is owned directly by the Queen. The royal family usually spends its summer holiday there, hunting and fishing. Victoria and Albert also bought the neighboring estate of Birkhall, which eventually became the home of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and is now used by the Prince of Wales.

2. Which of the Queen's homes was actually known as "The Queen's House"?
King George III purchased a London home for his bride, Queen Charlotte, from the Duke of Buckingham. Initially a private home for the Queen, it did not become the monarch's official royal residence in London until 75 years later when their granddaughter Queen Victoria ascended the throne. Before that, the official residence was St. James's Palace (and today, ambassadors are still appointed to the "Court of St. James.") Buckingham Palace is part of the Crown Estate and is held in trust by the reigning monarch. The palace has been greatly expanded over the years and it was bombed during World War II while the King and Queen were in residence. Currently, it is the official home of the Queen, Prince Philip, and Prince Edward and his family. Since 1993, Buckingham Palace has been open to the public during the late summer, while the Queen is at Balmoral in Scotland.

Another former royal residence was also called The Queen's House. Located in Greenwich and built by the famous architect Inigo Jones by James I for his wife Anne of Denmark, it was not completed before her death. Construction halted for a decade until Charles I decided to complete it for his wife Henrietta Maria of France. For the last two centuries, it has not been used as a royal residence. Today, it is used as a museum and for special events.

3. Which royal residence did the last Prince of Wales call "The Aunt Heap"?
Asthmatic King William III purchased Kensington Palace four centuries ago to get away from the coal fire smoke in London. Since the mid-18th century, the palace has been divided into used by members of the extended royal family, loyal retainers, and others selected by the monarch. It was the childhood home of the future Queen Victoria. In recent decades, it was the home of Princess Margaret, Princess Alice, and Diana Princess of Wales. It still houses the Queen's cousins, the Duke of Kent, the Duke of Gloucester, and Prince Michael of Kent and their families. The other side of the palace is open for tours and you can even use some of the spaces for your own special event.

4. As one of his first acts as king, Edward VIII re-set the clocks at which royal home?
Another private home of the Queen, the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk was purchased by Queen Victoria for use as a country house by her heir, the future King Edward VII. An avid hunter, Edward ordered all of the clocks set half an hour later to make the daylight last longer for the hunters. It continued into the reign of George V, but was abolished by Edward VIII. Today, the royal family spends New Year's at Sandringham and the Queen remains in residence there until February. The house is open to the public from April to October. On another note, Diana Princess of Wales was born in Park House on the Sandringham Estate; her father was an equerry to the Queen.

5. Many royal homes have stained glass, but only one has windows depicting fire fighters. Which is it?
Following a fire that destroyed several important areas of Windsor Castle, a massive restoration was undertaken. As a thank you to the fire brigades who helped save the ancient structure, a stained glass window representing them was installed. Windsor Castle is the oldest royal residence still in use by the Queen. Its first edifice was built by William the Conqueror a millenium ago. The Queen grew up at Windsor, first at Royal Lodge (now the home of The Duke of York and his daughters) before her father's accession and then in the castle itself during World War II. She has continued to use Windsor as her weekend home throughout her reign. In 1917, King George V derived his family's new surname from the castle, and it is really considered a family home by the royals and both Prince Charles and Prince Edward were married nearby. Nevertheless, Windsor Castle is also open to the public.

BONUS: Which is your favorite royal residence and why?

Elizabeth Loman: "Honestly, my favourite Royal Residence is Windsor Castle because of the history associated with it. WC is the oldest occupied Castle in the world. It was built by our "first" Monarch William the Conquerer & now nearly 50 rulers later its still relevant. Also, Windsor Castle seems to be much more of a "home" than other Royal Residences. Buckingham Palace is for business. Sandringham and Balmoral are for holidays. The Queen & Prince Philip are at WC nearly every weekend while in London."

Yvonne Strong: "Windsor Castle. That building just incorporates and radiates history. It seems like the solid beating heart of England."

Robyn H.: "Actually, my favorite royal residence is the Tower of London. It comes from my love of Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey, since that is where they died are are buried. Of the currently-occupied residences, Buckingham Palace is my favorite - it's so beautiful, and to me, it's one of the locations that just *is* London to me."

Marlene Koenig Eilers: "Favorite royal castle …two, actually … Hampton Court and Leeds Castle, built by Edward I, and with great connections to Alexandria and Fairfax county."

Christina Croft: "My favourite royal residence is Osborne House which is, to me, the most beautiful place on earth! It encapsulates beautiful Prince Albert’s character so perfectly. It is a real family home – the children’s little gardens around the Swiss Cottage, the toy fort and the bathing machine; the nurseries and Vicky and Bertie’s childhood museum - and it also captures Prince Albert’s sense of the aesthetic. The view across the Solent reminded him of the Bay of Naples, and so the house is built in a beautiful Italianate style. The corridors are filled with the most beautiful works of art (including the erotic images and statues that he and Queen Victoria often sent to each other as gifts) and the gardens also house tombstones and statues of beloved animals. I don’t know anywhere else on earth quite like Osborne. No wonder Queen Victoria loved it so much when it is the very epitome of the heart of ‘beloved Albert’. Even though QV died there, it isn’t a gloomy place at all – on the contrary, it feels alive and vibrant and filled with happy memories and happy children."

Cheryl Anderson Brown: "I would have to say Windsor Castle because it the most historic, it is architecturally magnificent, and, despite being so ancient and so grand, at the very heart of it, it really is a home."

Anonymous: "My favourite royal residence is probably Balmoral Castle. My family comes from Aberdeenshire, which Balmoral is in. Once when I visited Balmoral with my grandmother, she started crying because they were playing a piano piece her mother used to sing to her. The castle is completely lovely, what with the beautiful gardens and the incredible masonry."


  1. Cheryl, can you please say a little more about Buckingham Palace being the official residence of Prince Edward and his family? I didn't realize this, and find it curious. It was my understanding that they had a home somewhere in Surrey (the name of which escapes me at the moment)?

  2. Edward and Sophie do have a home called Bagshot Park in Surrey, but their official residence is their apartment at Buckingham Palace, which provides them with a base in London. I have read that the Queen sometimes "pops in" to spend time with Sophie and her youngest grandchildren.