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William and Kate are ‘seriously considering a move to Windsor’ to be closer to the Queen

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are ‘seriously considering’ a move to Windsor, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The mooted relocation, which would bring the family closer to the Queen, is the most significant sign yet that the couple are preparing to take on a far more senior role at the heart of the Royal Family.

A source said William and Kate have been ‘eyeing up’ accommodation options in the area suitable for bringing up their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

Eyeing up options: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are ‘seriously considering’ a move to Windsor, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. Pictured: The Cambridges and their children

They added that properties under consideration could include Fort Belvedere, a Grade II listed house with tower towards the southern end of Windsor Great Park, where King Edward VIII – the Queen’s uncle – signed his abdication papers in 1936. 

The fort is owned by the Crown Estate and leased to the Weston family, close friends of the Royals. From the top of the tower, on a clear day, Edward once wrote, you could see the dome of St Paul’s ‘with a spyglass’.

But the fort has been dismissed as an option by Palace aides.

Moving the family west – wherever they end up – could prove strategic as well as practical, as the monarchy prepares for major changes in the years ahead.

At the moment, the Cambridges split their time between their London base at Kensington Palace, where they also have their offices, and their country home of Anmer Hall in Norfolk.

A source said William and Kate have been 'eyeing up' accommodation options in the area suitable for bringing up their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. Pictured: Windsor Castle

A source said William and Kate have been ‘eyeing up’ accommodation options in the area suitable for bringing up their three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. Pictured: Windsor Castle

The move, which would bring the family closer to the Queen (pictured), is the most significant sign yet that the couple are preparing to take on a more senior role at the heart of the Royal Family

The move, which would bring the family closer to the Queen (pictured), is the most significant sign yet that the couple are preparing to take on a more senior role at the heart of the Royal Family

The home on the Sandringham Estate was a wedding gift from the Queen and, after carrying out refurbishment work, William and Kate made it their permanent home from 2015 to 2017.

Its rural location had several key advantages at the time: William was working as a helicopter pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, and the couple were keen to give their young children as normal an upbringing as possible, away from the public gaze.

39 monarchs, ten centuries – and one annus horribilis

The oldest and largest occupied castle on the planet, Windsor Castle, right, is the place where the Queen feels most at home.

Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century, it has been home to 39 monarchs.

As a young Princess Elizabeth, the Queen and her sister Margaret spent the war years at Windsor and from here made their first radio address to wish British children ‘goodnight and good luck’ during the war.

Last year, the Queen recorded a rousing television address to the nation during the coronavirus pandemic from the castle’s White Room. For once, with flights suspended during the lockdown, the message did not have to be timed to avoid the sound of aircraft taking off and landing at Heathrow Airport.

The castle has also been a labour of love for the Windsors.

When fire tore through it in November 1992 – a year the Queen described as her ‘annus horribilis’ – it damaged 115 rooms, including nine state rooms. Aides joined a human chain to pass priceless works of art out to safety. Prince Philip was instrumental in the Castle’s recovery, leading a restoration committee which raised funds for the costly and delicate repairs by opening up Buckingham Palace to the public.

In the new chapel, he installed a stained-glass window which commemorates the events of that night and those who fought to bring the fire under control.

It shows firefighters battling the blaze, one carrying a painting to safety, while St George slays the dragon with smoke billowing behind him.

Until his death in April, Philip held the role of Ranger of Windsor Great Park and was often seen out carriage-driving.

Visitors to the park may still catch a glimpse of the Duke’s familiar green carriage – now driven by his granddaughter Lady Louise, who is an accomplished driver in her own right.

 

But today, with their eldest two children at school in London, it has become rather far to travel for weekends. At Windsor, they could work in reverse – basing the family there full time and commuting in to London when required.

A source said: ‘Anmer Hall made sense while William was a helicopter pilot in East Anglia and it was useful for Christmases at Sandringham, but it doesn’t really work any more. It’s a little too far away for weekends, but Windsor is a perfect compromise. They are eyeing up options in the area.’

The move has other advantages. It would bring the Cambridges closer to Kate’s parents, Michael and Carole Middleton, who live 40 miles away in Bucklebury, Berkshire, and who are known for being hands-on grandparents.

Kate’s sister Pippa, her husband James Matthews and their two children also have a home in the village.

Following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh in April, it would also no doubt prove a boost to the Queen to have the Cambridges nearby.

The 95-year-old monarch has a close relationship with William, and during his time at Eton College – which is close to the castle – he would often have Sunday lunch with his grandparents in the castle’s panelled Oak Room.

For years the Queen used Windsor as a weekend residence, and a retreat from the working week at Buckingham Palace. But the monarch now plans to base herself permanently at Windsor once she returns from the annual summer break in Balmoral.

She and Prince Philip stayed at Windsor during the lockdown. It meant she was close to her youngest son Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, who live nearby at Bagshot Park, and Prince Andrew, who lives at Royal Lodge with his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson.

Prince Harry and Meghan refurbished Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate, but the property is now used by Princess Eugenie, her husband Jack Brooksbank and their six-month-old son, August.

Having the Cambridges nearby would mean most of the Queen’s immediate family – barring Prince Charles and Princess Anne – were close at hand to support her.

An insider added: ‘I don’t think we’ll see the Sussexes coming back in any meaningful way.’

In October, the Queen will embark on a series of high-profile engagements alongside different members of the family. 

Highlights over the coming weeks will include appearing with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to open the Sixth Session of the Scottish Parliament. 


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