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The British Royal Family and the best interior designs in their real estate portfolio

From Buckingham Palace to Balmoral Castle, explore the opulent decor and exquisite furnishings fit for royalty

April 26, 2023
Buckingham Palace by Tatler

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The British Royal Family is one of the most well-known and widely recognized royal families in the world. Scandal, glamour and class permeate this centuries-long lineage, and its members have played crucial roles in shaping the very fabric of the United Kingdom's political and cultural landscape.

The history of the British Royal Family can be traced back to the 9th century when the first king of England, Alfred the Great, ruled. The current monarchy, known as the House of Windsor, was officially established in 1917 when King George V changed the name of the royal house from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor. Since then, the House of Windsor has been the reigning royal house of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms.

Throughout its history, the British Royal Family has faced numerous challenges and controversies. From King Edward VIII’s abdication to Princess Diana’s tragic death, and more recently, Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s exile from the official exile from the family; the Windsors have shaped contemporary discussions of privilege, duty and responsibility.

Besides being cultural icons, the Windsors are well known for their role as landlords. The British Royal Family owns a significant amount of property and land in the United Kingdom, including palaces, estates, and other historic buildings. 

The income generated by these properties is used to support the Royal Family's official duties and charitable activities. The Crown Estate, which is a portfolio of land and property owned by the monarch, is managed by an independent organisation and generates revenue through rent, licensing fees, and other activities.

The Royal Family’s real estate portfolio boasts of some incredible interior designs, which will be going into depth within this article. From incalculably expensive art to family heirlooms that talk about the House’s colonial past, this is bound to be a journey through space and time. Before we go on, make sure to follow our interior design content on our weekly newsletter.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, which serves as the official residence of the British monarch in London, is renowned for its glorious opulence. The palace's interior is a mix of 18th-century grandeur and 21st-century convenience, with over 775 rooms, including 19 state rooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, and 78 bathrooms making it a mammoth of luxury.

Outside Buckingham palace via The Royal Family website
The Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II via iDesignArch

One of the most famous rooms in the palace is the White Drawing Room, which is used for audiences with foreign ambassadors and other important dignitaries. The room features white and gold decor, with ornate cornices and a ceiling painted by Antonio Verrio in the late 17th century.

White drawing room by House & Garden

Another notable room is the Green Drawing Room, which is used for receptions and other official events. The room features green silk walls and a collection of paintings and sculptures, including works by Rubens and Canova.

The Green Drawing Room of Buckingham Palace (photo by Jeremy Whitaker, © 2012) via The Royal Collection Trust

The Throne Room is another important space in the palace, where state banquets and other formal ceremonies are held. The room features red and gold decor, with a throne on a raised dais at one end of the room.

Throne room via Vogue

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace, a historic royal residence located in London's picturesque Kensington Gardens and the birthplace and childhood home of Queen Victoria, is an enchanting blend of historic and contemporary styles. The palace has been a beloved home to the British royal family for centuries, and its interior design is a stunning reflection of its rich history. 

Outside Kensington Palace via the Royal Family’s website
Kensington’s most incredible clock by © Historic Royal Palaces, James Brittain

The grand King's Gallery, the intimate Cupola Room, and the private apartments adorned with family mementos are some of the standouts of the building, but perhaps the most outstanding is the use of modern artwork alongside more traditional pieces, creating a unique blend of styles and eras.

King’s Gallery after reopening, by Adrian Houston
The Cupola Room ceiling, Kensington Palace, William Kent (1685-1748) via Historic Royal Palaces

One of the most recent additions to the palace's stunning design is the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Garden, which honours the late princess's life with a fountain and a bronze statue. The Sunken Garden, restored in 2017, is another must-see feature of the palace's beautiful design. With a delightful mix of historic and modern art and furnishings, Kensington Palace is a testament to the beauty and diversity of British cultural heritage.

Princess of Wales Memorial Garden by Samir Hussein via Town & Country
The Sunken Garden via Garden Collage

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle's interior design is a reflection of its long history, which dates back over 900 years.The building has over 1,000 rooms, with a mix of mediaeval and modern architecture and design permeating its halls. Everywhere you go, you’ll find art – including the likes of Rembrandt and Rubens – and historical artefacts that remind the visitor of the legacy of the space.

Windsor Castle via the Royal Family Website 
Beautiful blue living room in Windsor Castle via London Tickets

The State Apartments are perhaps some of the better known spaces within this castle, and they consist of several rooms, including the Grand Reception Room, the Waterloo Chamber, and the Crimson Drawing Room. In order, the Grand Reception Room is used for large receptions and banquets, and features ornate decorations, including gilded ceilings and intricate tapestries; the Waterloo Chamber was created to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and features portraits of the key figures involved in the battle; and the Crimson Drawing Room is decked in a red and gold colour scheme and a collection of paintings and sculptures, including works by Canova and Reynolds.

Queen’s drawing room via the Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023
Grand Reception Room via the Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2023
Waterloo Chamber via Number One London

One of the most impressive features of Windsor Castle's interior design is the St. George's Chapel, which dates back to the 14th century. The chapel is used for royal weddings and funerals, and features Gothic architecture and intricate stonework. Inside the chapel, visitors can see beautiful stained glass windows and a vaulted ceiling adorned with the coats of arms of the Knights of the Garter.

St George’s Chapel via Eye Revolution

Another notable feature of Windsor Castle's interior design is the Queen Mary's Dolls' House, which is a miniature replica of an aristocratic home from the early 20th century. The dolls' house is incredibly detailed, with functioning plumbing, electricity, and a library with tiny books made by famous authors.

Inside the doll’s house via Country Life

Balmoral Castle

Balmoral Castle is a private residence of the British royal family located in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It was purchased by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, in 1852 and has been a favourite retreat of the royal family ever since. The interior design of Balmoral Castle reflects its Scottish heritage and its use as a private residence.

Balmoral Castle via Encyclopedia Britannica

The castle's interior design combines traditional elegance and rustic charm. Its 50 rooms, which include a ballroom, dining room, and a number of private bedrooms and sitting rooms, are decorated with Scottish tartan fabrics, antique furniture, fireplaces, artwork, and a magnificent collection of books.

The Late Queen at Balmoral via Scene Therapy

In addition to the public rooms, Balmoral Castle also has a number of private bedrooms and sitting rooms for the use of the royal family. These rooms are decorated with family photographs and personal mementos, reflecting the family's history and traditions.

Queen Victoria’s bedroom via Harper’s Bazaar 

One of the most notable features of Balmoral Castle's interior design is the collection of artwork and antiques throughout the castle. The castle features a large collection of paintings, including works by famous Scottish artists such as Sir Edwin Landseer.

There aren’t many images of the inside of the Castle, as it is considered a family residence more than a public space.

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