Prince William and Kate Middleton‘s reported move to Adelaide Cottage on the Windsor estate next to Queen Elizabeth II‘s castle home will offer them the “freedom” that their London base of Kensington Palace cannot, according to a leading royal expert.
Speaking to True Royalty TV’s The Royal Beat, biographer Ingrid Seward explained that William and Kate’s current apartment at Kensington Palace, the couple’s home since 2013, restricts their movements as there are “hundreds of people every day” beyond the garden wall, so their comings and goings are constantly monitored.
“I remember Harry saying to a friend of mine that Kate was almost a prisoner at Kensington Palace, and I thought ‘don’t be ridiculous, it’s the most gorgeous place to live in London,'” Seward said.
“Then I thought about it and yes, in a way they are prisoners there because they have a beautiful house and a beautiful garden but beyond that garden are hundreds of people every day and massive security.”
“Kate can’t walk in the park like Diana used to,” she continued, “she can’t take her dog into the park. The only place to go is a field where the helicopters land so you are very imprisoned and everyone knows what you’re doing and coming and going. So I do understand [in moving to Adelaide Cottage] that their children will have the freedom of Windsor Great Park and the security of being right next to the queen.”
The comments come as it has been reported that William and Kate will move into Adelaide Cottage in Windsor Great Park to be near to the queen and potential schools for the young Cambridge children, Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 7 and Prince Louis, 4.
William and Kate moved into apartment 1a at Kensington Palace in 2013 after a substantial sum was spent renovating the space for the couple.
William grew up at Kensington Palace (known as KP to staff and residents) in apartments 8 and 9, which were formerly the home of Princess Diana.
The palace is a grand red-brick complex of residences separated into apartments, including the state apartments that are currently open to the public. These residences are formed around three courtyards, the largest of which is known as “Clock Court” where the entrance to William and Kate’s home is.
Before the Cambridges took possession of 1a, the apartment had been home to Princess Margaret for over 40 years. The royal had the residence completely overhauled in the 1960s, stripping it back to bare brick and rebuilding the interiors nearly from scratch. Part of the new interior scheme implemented by Margaret was a grand entrance hall with chequerboard floor tiles designed by friend Carl Toms and a dark room where Lord Snowdon, the royal’s photographer husband, could develop his work.
The apartment is set over four floors and reportedly includes a gym, five reception rooms and an elevator. The public have been offered few glimpses inside the apartment during the residence of William and Kate but a notable example came in April 2016 when the couple hosted then-President and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama for dinner.
Included in the luxurious decorative scheme chosen by the couple are artworks selected from the world-famous Royal Collection, large comfortable sofas and sentimental photographs placed on surfaces around the rooms.
In 2022 it was reported that William and Kate had been given the use of Adelaide Cottage in Windsor by the Queen as a country home. Though the couple are expected to keep Kensington Palace as their official residence, it is believed that Adelaide Cottage may become their family base.
The cottage was built in 1831 as a folly for Queen Adelaide (1792-1849), the consort of King William IV. On its completion the cottage only had two rooms: a drawing room for the queen and a pages’ room for her attendants.
Over the years the house has been enlarged though it retains the picturesque style of architecture designed by Sir Jeffry Wyatville. During the reign of Queen Victoria the cottage was used to take short walks with ministers or members of the court. On February 28, 1839 Victoria wrote in her journal that the house might be a good place to house a pet monkey. She said:
“Talked of my thinking of having a monkey at Adelaide Cottage, of it’s being cold for them there. Lord [Melbourne] said: ‘I don’t see why you shouldn’t have what amuses you’; for, that what he disapproved, was people’s having things, which they disliked; talked of George IV’s animals, and he said, I might have some if I liked.”
In the 1940s the cottage was home to Group Captain Peter Townsend, the lover of Princess Margaret, who lived there with his first wife and his children. He was unhappy with the house as it was too damp and cold in the winters. In his autobiography he wrote:
“The site, a stone’s throw from the Thames, was one of the dampest in England; the house possessed two radiators; they and the meager coal ration were insufficient to warm it. In the drawing-room, surrounded by French windows, it was sometimes necessary to wrap up in an overcoat and scarf. The house was an icebox in winter; in summer it was delightful.”
Most recently the cottage has been home to a distant relation to the Queen through her mother’s Bowes-Lyon family.
One of the benefits that the home has for the Cambridges is its proximity to Windsor Castle where, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Queen has been living full time. The couple are reportedly close to the 96-year-old monarch and moving nearby allows for more opportunities to see her.