One of the most famous landmarks in the country, Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British monarch in London. The former home of The Duke of Buckingham, it was bought by the Hanoverian King George III for his wife, Queen Charlotte, in 1762, with deeds being completed in 1763. Though The King did not stay at the Palace, which came to be known as the ‘Queen’s House’, 14 of his 15 children were born there, including the future King William IV. It wasn’t until 1837 that his granddaughter Queen Victoria became the first sovereign to take up residence at Buckingham Palace.
King George III bought Buckingham Palace from Sir Charles Sheffield on 20th April, 1763. Now, it is revealed that it cost him £28,000 (around £2 million today) – a meagre amount, considering the great number of rooms and the vastness of the gardens. The title deed, bearing a portrait of The King and containing the details of his purchase, is among a number of documents from the Royal Archives on display at Windsor Castle.
This special exhibition is being held to mark the centenary of the transfer of the thousands of documents that make up the Royal Archives to the Round Tower at Windsor Castle in 1914, as ordered by King George V. Lauren Porter, the curator of Royal Collection Trust, said: “The 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle provides a wonderful opportunity to explore and exhibit some of the greatest treasures in the collection of documents.”
“The wide variety of material held in the Royal Archives – from private correspondence and diaries to official papers – provides a fascinating insight into the history of the British Monarchy, often from a very personal perspective.”
The collection includes a letter from seven year-old Bonnie Prince Charlie to his father, Prince James, in which he writes about his life and behaviour during his family’s exile to Rome and a letter from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria during their engagement. Visitors can see the account of the Battle of Rorke, given to Queen Victoria by Major John Chard, and the household accounts of the future Queen Elizabeth I between 1551-1552, with The Princess’s signature at the bottom of each page.
Also on display are the 100th birthday card from The Queen to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother; a letter written to Queen Mary by her daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, after Buckingham Palace was bombed during the Second World War and King George VI’s description of the Battle of Jutland.
One document in particular shows the present queen’s – then Princess Elizabeth – opinion of her parents’ 1937 coronation in Westminster Abbey. “I thought it all very, very wonderful and I expect the Abbey did, too. The arches and beams at the top were covered with a sort of haze of wonder as Papa was crowned, at least I thought so,” she wrote. “At the end the service got rather boring as it was all prayers.”
A new book ‘Treasures From The Royal Archives’ is set to feature over 100 documents from the collection, and serves as an accompaniment to the display.
The exhibition, which started on Saturday, will remain open to the public until January 25th of next year.
Photo credit: Royal Archives / (C) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014