Inside the Queen’s private world at Windsor Castle


Usually a private space where she can relax away from the glare of the public eye, the Queen has offered the public a rare look inside her private apartments at Windsor Castle over the last year. 

The Queen, 94, has conducted a number of high profile video calls from the comfortable, countrified sitting room during lockdown, including one last week with the Governor of South Australia

The room is normally closed off from public view and has only been photographed a handful of times, most notably when Annie Leibovitz photographed the Queen and Prince Philip for Vanity Fair in 2016.

So photographs released over the last year to mark the Queen’s virtual engagements, including the ones from last week’s call with Australia, offer a rare glimpse at the monarch’s private quarters – and the historical objects, trinkets and personal mementos that she chooses to keep close at hand.

In the most recent images, the Queen is photographed at a felt-covered writing desk – with a couple of cushions strategically placed on her wooden dining chair for extra height and comfort. The background is rather blurry but gives an idea of the rest of the room, from the imposing glass-fronted display cabinet to the black open fireplace.  

Here, FEMAIL combines the most recent photograph of the Queen’s sitting room with others released over the last year to reveal a fuller picture of the Queen’s private space… 

AT WORK: A photograph taken of the Queen in her private sitting room at Windsor Castle during last week’s call with the Governor of South Australia. Pictured: 1. A wooden dining chair with two booster cushions; 2. A glass-fronted display cabinet showcasing a ceramics collection; 3. Three horse figurines, including one of a rider; 4. Simple wooden desk with felt covering

1. DINING CHAIR WITH COMFORTABLE CUSHIONS

Although the Queen has chosen a comfortable armchair for previous video engagements, last week’s call to Australia was carried out on a straight-backed wooden dining chair. At just 5ft 4in, it appeared the Queen needed a little more height for the video call and a padded cushion was added to the seat to give her a boost. A second cushion folded at her lower back no doubt made it more comfortable, too.  

2. GLASS-FRONTED DISPLAY CABINET

In the background of the image there is an imposing glass-fronted wood display cabinet housing what appears to be an impressive ceramics collection. The Royal Collection contains dozens of priceless pieces but it is difficult to tell which ones are showcased here. One thing is for certain, they must be particular favourites of Her Majesty to be displayed alongside her personal treasures. 

3. REARING HORSE STATUETTES AND FIGURE OF RIDER ON HORSEBACK 

Reflecting one of the Queen’s greatest passions, on top of the display cabinet there are a trio of horse statuettes. In the centre there is a miniature rider on horseback, potentially a model of the Queen herself. Otherwise it could be a favourite horse that the Queen has owned over the years. On either side there is a horse rearing on its hind legs, reflecting the wilder side of the animal Her Majesty loves. 

4. SIMPLE WOODEN DESK 

The Queen is photographed at a wooden desk with two small drawers at the front. This writing desk looks like it has been temporarily moved to the side of the room for the video call and is small enough to be easily carried and positioned by household staff. A thin piece of red felt has been placed on top of the desk to protect the wood from any scratches or damage. The Queen has another heavier desk elsewhere in the room (No. 10, below). 

5. PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHS

RELAXED: This view of the Queen in her private apartments was seen during a documentary about Princess Anne that was released last summer. It offers a better idea of the details of the room. Pictured: 5. A selection of framed photographs; 6. Mantelpiece with a pair of candlesticks; 7. Ornate gold wall mirror; 8. Heavy gold curtains; 9. Comfortable sofa

RELAXED: This view of the Queen in her private apartments was seen during a documentary about Princess Anne that was released last summer. It offers a better idea of the details of the room. Pictured: 5. A selection of framed photographs; 6. Mantelpiece with a pair of candlesticks; 7. Ornate gold wall mirror; 8. Heavy gold curtains; 9. Comfortable sofa

On the display cabinet and on the sideboard, there are a number of framed photographs. It is difficult to tell who is pictured but it is more than likely that they are snaps of the Queen’s family. The Royal Household frequently rotate photo frames between rooms to freshen up the displays. Many of them are from milestone celebrations or family events such as weddings and christenings.  

6. MANTELPIECE WITH CANDLE HOLDERS 

On the mantelpiece behind the Queen, a pair of matching candle holders are just about visible. While little can be gleamed about the piece from this angle, other photos taken in the room, including the one by Leibovitz, show similar pieces that take the form of humans ‘holding’ the candles on outstretched arms. It is possible these are the same ones. 

7. ORNATE WALL MIRROR 

Displayed above the fireplace, next to one of the windows looking out to the castle courtyard, is an ornate gold mirror.  

8. HEAVY GOLD CURTAINS 

Pulled back on either side of the large windows are gold curtains in a heavy fabric.  

9. SETTEE WITH FLORAL UPHOLSTERY 

Offering the Queen a place to relax and unwind is this three-seater settee with floral upholstery. The monarch is known for her thrifty approach to design and housekeeping so it is very possible this is a sofa that has been in the family for years and reupholstered in this fetching fabric. The botanical print is a subtle nod to the Queen’s love of the outdoors. 

10. QUEEN’S DESK

ON CALL: The Queen on a phone call with the Prime Minister at the start of the pandemic last year. The photo offered a view of the Queen's cluttered desk, which is decorated with corgis and a Queen's Guard statuette

ON CALL: The Queen on a phone call with the Prime Minister at the start of the pandemic last year. The photo offered a view of the Queen’s cluttered desk, which is decorated with corgis and a Queen’s Guard statuette

Corgi figurines 

The Queen’s love of her corgis is well-documented and this photo shows how she likes to be reminded of them while working at her writing desk. On the left-hand side of the desk there are three corgis: one larger one, thought to be china, and two smaller ones, thought to be silver, that are stood on a slate block. There is a silver plaque attached to the base of the block, suggesting it might have been given to the Queen as a gift.  

A Queen’s Guard statuette

On the top right of the desk there stands a statuette of a member of the Queen’s Guard, complete with his dress uniform of a red tunic and bearskin hat. The story behind the figurine is not known, however it is thought to be a favourite of the monarch as it has been stood in the same spot on her desk – keeping watch as she works – for at least five years.

Antique Wedgwood cabbage leaf plate and bowl 

The Queen and the Royal Family are known for exchanging quirky presents at Christmas – and this unusual set would certainly fit the bill. It is believed to be a rare Wedgwood bowl and plate, or cup and saucer, designed in the shape of a cabbage leaf with a scalloped edge. Similar designs in a darker green shade can be found online but what sets this apart is its rare green and white colouring.  



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