Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest continually inhabited castles in the world. The historic fortress stands proudly atop a chalky outcrop and has been home to the Queen and her predecessors for almost 1000 years. Here royalty, religion, history, art, and architecture collide to offer visitors a glimpse of royal life both today and in ages passed. This Windsor Castle Tour, led by a historian, connects the threads of English history and culture on display here, from Queen Mary's Doll House, to the Royal Collection, to St. George's Chapel, the location of Prince Harry and Meghan Markel's marriage ceremony.
- Windsor Castle Tour
- Visits St George's Chapel, the location of Prince Harry and Meghan Markel's marriage ceremony
- Small groups—never more than six
Windsor Castle Tour
Following his conquest of 1066, the newly installed Norman King William I was the first to establish a base on the site. Subsequent rulers have each added their touch and through the course of time this military fortification became the opulent royal residence that it is today. The State Apartments, a series of grand and regal reception rooms for visiting heads of state and dignitaries, were first opened to the visiting public by Queen Victoria in 1845, but the castle is also still home to some 150 people and maintains its position as Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite official residence.
The Doll's House
As our Windsor Castle Tour proceeds to the State Apartments we might choose to see Queen Mary’s Dolls House—the largest, most beautiful, and most famous doll's house in the world. It was built for Queen Mary, Consort of George V, by the leading British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens between 1921 and 1924. This most magical of residences is a perfect replica in miniature of an aristocratic home. We could also meanwhile some of the highlights of the Royal Collection located inside the State Apartments, including paintings, sculpture, porcelain, jewels, tapestries, and furniture.
St George’s Chapel The Albert Memorial Chapel
Windsor Castle is also home to St George’s Chapel, the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter—the oldest order of chivalry in the world, founded by Edward III in 1348. Today, the Order consists of The Queen, The Prince of Wales, and 24 Knight Companions. The Albert Memorial Chapel was built by Henry VII as a royal mausoleum, was restored by Queen Victoria and named in memory of her consort. In this chapel are buried George III, George IV, and William IV. A working Anglican church, St George’s Chapel hosts regular services for the castle’s community and visiting public. It is probably best known, however, for playing host in 2018 to Prince Harry and Meghan Markel’s wedding.
Please note, as a working church the chapel is occasionally subject to late notice closures.
In the center of the castle proudly stands the romantic looking round tower, built high up on a grassy bank. Its grounds are home to The Governor of the Castle, Sir James Penrowne, and the tower itself holds the Royal Archives and Sebastopol Bell. As we walk by, we'll learn about the Tower's history, strategic importance, and the role it plays today.
Precincts and Guard Sentries
The castle grounds cover over 52,000 square meters—equivalent to 13 acres—so while some of our visit will be spent indoors, a good proportion might be spent in the open-air grounds. The Castle, being an official Royal residence, is also guarded by the military. Our docent will delight in explaining the history of the Queen’s Guard—The Household Division. We'll discuss its raison d’être both at the time of its creation in the 1600’s and the soldiers’ role today. Should the guards pique our interest, our docent will be able to explain the differences between the regiments, their uniforms, the selection process of new recruits and so forth.
The Long Walk
Time allowing and weather permitting, we might stroll around the exterior of the castle to discover The Long Walk. This impressive, three mile-long, tree-lined avenue is the ceremonial procession route used annually by the royal family for Royal Ascot and on certain other occasions.
Our Windsor Castle docent will convey to us the denouement of the royal history of Windsor Castle. We'll develop a good understanding of its purpose past and present and how it fits into the family of current royal residences. From Medieval Knights to 17th century regal art, and the British Monarchy of today and of the future, Windsor Castle is has many stories to tell.
Please note, like for all Royal Palaces, guiding in Windsor Castle is limited to certain areas of the Castle, but no one is allowed to guide in the State Apartments. Included in your ticket is an audioguide, and your docent will explain extensively in the castle precincts and in the Royal Chapel. He/she will also facilitate information flow between you and the Palace volunteers.
What is a private tour?
Our private tours are limited exclusively to travelers in your party. They are designed to provide a learning experience that is completely tailored to you and your traveling companions. Private tours give you more flexibility with scheduling (you decide when the walk best fits in your trip), the ability to tailor your itinerary (we'll work to match the itinerary to the interests and dynamics of your group), and more personalized time with your guide.
What is a semi-private tour?
Our semi-private tours cover many of the same itineraries as our private tours, but they place you with other travelers in groups of 6 or less. They operate on a pre-scheduled calendar, and are designed to provide an opportunity to engage with and learn from other travelers. Most of our semi-private tours require at least three (3) participants to run, although there is some variation from walk to walk. However, there is some variation from walk to walk. As you sign up for a tentative walk we display the minimum number required in order to confirm.