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Clarence House has been a favourite royal residence in London for nearly two centuries. Although it is not as well-known as the official residence of the sovereign, Buckingham Palace, it has been home to several different senior royals. 

Designed by famed Regency architect John Nash, who also designed Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews, Clarence House was built between 1825 and 1827. The Duke of Clarence, the future King William IV, commissioned it as a family home in London. Once he ascended to the throne in 1830, he chose to continue living at Clarence House instead of moving to the small, Tudor residence, St James’s Palace. 

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In 1840, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saafeld, Duchess of Kent and mother of Queen Victoria moved into Clarence House. As she also did at Kensington Palace, she redirected much of Clarence House. She also added a conservatory to the building and created a private entrance to enter and leave via the Mall. 

After the Duchess of Kent died, the house was empty for half a decade before Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh moved in in 1866 and was joined by his wife, Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna, after they married in 1874. Being Russian Orthodox, she had an Orthodox chapel built on the first floor of Clarence House. It was removed after she left with Alfred’s passing in 1900. 

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During the Second World War, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and the War Organisation of the British Red Cross used Clarence House for administrative staff. The Foreign Service also used space there to operate the Red Cross Postal Message Scheme. 

After their 1947 royal wedding, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh lived at Clarence House while in London. The Duke focused on modernising and redecorating the house to their tastes, and they lived there until moving into Buckingham Palace upon The Queen’s accession in 1952. He brought the house into the mid-twentieth century, adding hot water systems and electricity throughout, and the interior design was updated, as well. 

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After leaving Buckingham Palace in 1953, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother moved into Clarence House; Princess Margaret also moved in. The Queen Mother chose to redecorate the house again. She created a new room in what had been the Duke of Edinburgh’s study, the Morning Room, including a Georgian marble chimney front and a new plaster ceiling, featuring a design of her own crown. Whenever a Foreign Head of State made a State Visit to the UK, they would visit the Queen Mother at Clarence House for tea on the first day of the visit. 

In the twenty-first century, many younger royals have called Clarence House home, including Prince William, Prince Harry, Princess Beatrice, and Princess Eugenie. 

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The Prince of Wales moved in after his grandmother’s death in 2002. He still lives at Clarence House, along with his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall. Some think that Charles may continue to live at Clarence House after his accession and may use Buckingham Palace as more of an office than a home. 

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Historian and blogger at AnHistorianAboutTown.com