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How King George VI guided Windsor through some of its toughest times

Following the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, Britain declared war on Nazi Germany. King George VI would be the monarch to lead the UK through some of the country’s darkest times. During the war, Windsor Castle would become pivotal for the royal family.

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During the outbreak of the war in 1939, Windsor Castle was readied for war-time conditions, and Buckingham Palace staff were moved to Windsor. Security was tightened, and windows were blacked out. Because of this, there was concern the castle might be damaged or worse, destroyed during the war. Some of the most important artworks were removed for safekeeping, and chandeliers were lowered to the floor in case of bomb damage.

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Despite German bombing raids, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth continued to stay at Buckingham Palace. Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret stayed at Windsor. The rooves above their rooms were specially strengthened in the case of an attack.

In addition to being a safe space for the royal family, the castle was also used for storage. This included the only purified heavy water at the time that was rescued from France. It was sent to be housed in the basement along with the crown jewels.

After the war, King George VI brought “dine and sleep” events back to Windsor following comments the castle became “almost like a vast, empty museum.” It would take many years for Windsor Castle to return to its pre-war condition.

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About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.