Have you ever wondered what goes on in royal family homes behind all the public decadence, extravagance, and almost otherworldly splendor? Each and every royal family of the world manages to inspire in their fans and loyal subjects a sense of awe, so it’s only natural that our heads are left swimming, wondering what they are actually like behind the scenes.
Read here for a glimpse at what life looks like inside the royal residences and how the royal families entertain guests, welcome heads of state, or simply relax and enjoy time with their friends and loved ones. From Sweden to England to Morocco, there’s bound to be some dazzling surprises in store.
1. Golden Chambers
It’s time to be their guest. Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, is the workplace of the current head of the Dutch royal family, ruling monarch King Willem-Alexander. Starting just in 2016, the palace has been opened on occasion for public viewing, for the Dutch populace to gawk at their king’s personal office space.
This dining room seems like a scene straight out of a Dutch version of Beauty and the Beast. From the thick gold frames on the portraits of royalty of ages past on the walls, to the shimmering gold of the curtains, the candelabra centerpiece, and even the chair cushions, everything about this dining room screams opulence.
2. One On One
It’s a meeting of generations, a conversation between royalty and the Prime Minister of Canada. Queen Elizabeth receives PM Justin Trudeau, head of a country of which she is still considered the monarch by constitutional law. It’s safe to assume that one of her ever-present corgis is not far away.
Look closely at this photograph, for among the small trinkets that grace the shelves and tables of the room are objects that remind us that just like in the home of any everyday person, family comes first. Her table is graced with a variety of family portraits spanning the decades.
3. A Knight To Remember
When you picture the ballroom of any royal family, let alone the one in the very heart of Queen Elizabeth’s Buckingham Palace, this is pretty much as sumptuous as you can get without getting too bombastic. Positively bursting with the vibrant color of its vivid scarlet carpeting, it exudes warmth and pomp.
Here we see the ballroom set up for a royal banquet, where guests will dine in luxury beneath the enormous glittering crystal chandeliers, on gold chairs. During banquets, the palace staff sets up nineteen serving stations around the table, and delivering each course is coordinated by using a series of traffic lights.
4. The People’s Princess
As a woman so constantly ensnared under the photographer’s gaze wherever she went in the world, Princess Diana was the royal family member that the international public just couldn’t get enough of. But despite that, being able to have a glance at her inner sanctum was an opportunity rarely afforded.
This tender moment shows Princess Diana in one of her many roles, as a mother, helping the young Prince William solve a puzzle in the playroom of Kensington Palace. Refreshingly enough, there is nothing over-the-top about their setting, both in terms of the decor and the architecture. This seems like a playroom that could be in anyone’s home.
5. Strolling Through White Garden
When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge aren’t attending events and charities or tending to their children, they are strolling through the White Garden in Kensington Palace. Prince William loves to visit the Sunken Garden, which was transformed into a White Garden in memory of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
Here, the royals are captured strolling through the gardens on a rainy day on August 30, 2017. It was the day the White Garden was dedicated to Diana to mark the 20th anniversary of her death. William and Kate were certainly well-dressed and ready for the momentous occasion.
6. Chamber Of Secrets
There’s so many details in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace that it’s bound to distract any visitor’s eye as they try to take it all in. It is from this space that Queen Elizabeth prefers to give her annual Christmas broadcast, and also it serves as the room where newly appointed foreign ambassadors formally present their credentials to the Queen.
This surprisingly intimate space has one fascinating function that is not easily apparent. One of the mirrors in the White Drawing Room and the cabinet in front of it are actually a double door leading to a hidden passageway, through which Her Majesty can easily slip into the room to receive her guests.
7. Chilling At Balmoral
It’s one of the most famous residences of the British royal family, the Scottish castle purchased for Queen Victoria by the love of her life, Prince Albert. Balmoral is still the annual summer getaway home for the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who is pictured here in the drawing room with her husband Prince Philip and one of their dogs in 1975. But there’s a catch to this castle.
Balmoral Castle is notorious for not having central heating, and its stone halls retain the chill of Scotland’s countryside like no other. When Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, visited in 1896, he famously quipped that it was colder than Siberia! Perhaps all those tartan kilts and stylish stockings are a bit out of place?
8. We’re Engaged!
There was much speculation for years before Prince William and Kate Middleton got engaged, but when they finally did, the behind-the-scenes announcement was priceless. It took place on November, 16, 2010 when Clarence House announced in the State Apartments of St James Palace that the heir apparent to the British throne had finally made things official with Middleton.
Here the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed couple are beaming with happiness and they walk into St James Palace to make their engagement public. After eight long years together, Prince William finally asked for Middleton’s hand in marriage while on a holiday in Kenya.
9. Whisked Away On Honeymoon
On April 30, 2011, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were snapped walking hand-in-hand through Buckingham Palace to a waiting helicopter the day after they tied the knot. As you can probably guess, Prince William and Kate Middleton were being whisked away to their secret honeymoon location.
Only the day before, millions flocked to London to witness the Royal Wedding that was attended by 1,900 guests and led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Foreign Royal family members and heads of state were among the guests, while hundreds and thousands of well-wishers from the world over sent their well-wishes to the newlyweds.
10. Royal Flushed
With these rosy-cheeked smiles, heir apparent to the British royal family Prince Charles and his then-wife Princess Diana were all too eager to share their new bundle of joy, infant Prince William, with their hundreds of millions of adoring fans and subjects across the world. To do so, they invited photographers into their personal chambers at Kensington Palace.
The baby blue patterns of this room are excellently suited to the theme of the most recent arrival to join the royal family. Although the couch is in shades of light burgundy, the main cushion behind Prince Charles with its sky-colored diamonds and floral motif match the calming wallpaper wrapping around the room.
11. International Family Affair
Most of Europe’s royal families are someway, somehow connected to each other, whether by blood or by strategic marriages. But as the second cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, King Harald V of Norway is technically the most closely-related to the British royal family of any monarch. So naturally, a reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit meant a joyous family reunion.
Here the delighted visitors are swept off to a dinner in their honor at the royal palace in Oslo. Arm in arm, the Crown Prince Haakon and his wife Princess Mette-Marit, Queen Sonja of Norway and Prince William, and Duchess Kate Middleton with King Harald make their way through rooms decked with sparkling chandeliers and gilded borders.
12. Positively Glowing
It was the event that had the whole nation of Sweden looking on in adoration: welcoming the newest member of their royal family into the faith. Princess Adrienne is the youngest child of Princess Madeleine, herself the youngest child of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf. Her baptism was held on her parents’ fifth wedding anniversary, at the Swedish royal residence: Drottningholm Palace.
Located just west of Stockholm on the pristine island of Lovön, the bright color scheme in this palace makes the viewer forget it was built in the 17th century. Proud parents Princess Madeleine and Chris O’Neill sit in a room filled with soft and cheerful pastels. And lest we forget they’re royals, there are touches of gold galore: table, chair legs, picture frames, curtain rods — you name it!
13. Just Like Us
When we think of any royal family, they seem inaccessible, opulent, and bombastic. But this glimpse into the private lives of the royal family of Jordan proves just how human and easy to relate to they truly can be. Although Queen Rania is her normally radiant self at the center of the photo with a bouquet of peonies, look behind her.
The wall of this private residence is decked out with family photos from across the years, of her husband King Abdullah II, their children, and other members of the extended Jordanian royal family. Gone are the ornate portraits and grandiose tapestries we might expect, and instead, memories that one might find in any ordinary person’s home.
14. Seat Of Power
Windsor Castle has been one of the British royal family’s strongholds for nearly a millennia. Originally constructed following the Norman invasion in the late 11th century, the castle has withstood dynastic change, civil wars, neglect, and even served as refuge to the royal family during German bombing raids on London.
If you seek the glamorous emporium that has given the British royals their adopted surname, look no further. As the rooms are decked with priceless paintings, this hall above, the Waterloo Chamber, is representative of the castle’s splendor. Here, castle staff pose with a portrait of the Duke of Wellington, the English military hero who won the decisive battle against Napoleon’s forces.
15. Living Space
Although it is tantalizing to glimpse the dramatic displays of wealth that we may never attain, sometimes it’s just nice to be reminded of the humanity of members of royal families, wherever they reside. This moment during Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s visit with the Dutch royal family does just that.
Argentinean-born queen consort Princess Máxima, married to the Dutch King Willem-Alexander, is receiving her guest at the Villa Eikenhorst in The Hague. Tasteful furniture and elegant wall-lamps aside, what stands out about this snapshot are the simple picture frames in the background, as well as a collection of what coffee table books the princess is reading.
16. A Meeting Of Minds
As he awaited his freedom from prison, Nelson Mandela likely never dreamed he would one day meet queens, let alone see the inside of royal family homes. Here in 1999, he is received as a guest at Amalienborg Palace, the home of Danish royalty. Greeting him and his wife are Queen Margrethe of Denmark and her husband, Prince Consort Henrik.
This Baroque-style palace is the Danish royal family’s official residence. While this reception was greeted by photographers, there are parts of the palace that rarely see any press whatsoever. For example, only in the past few years were members of the press welcomed into the periwinkle blue living room at Amalienborg.
17. Shining Portrait
In their royal palace, King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway opted for a family portrait with their grandchildren that is simultaneously poised but informal. Gone are the days of royals standing stiffly glowering at the camera. The beaming smiles and grandchildren sprawled on the floor herald a new age of royalty.
But no matter how approachable and cheery these Nordic royals appear, there’s one piece of the palace decorations behind them that simply can’t be ignored. The solid gold clock sitting on the mantelpiece behind the king’s head is absolutely jaw-dropping — not to mention that extravagant chandelier reflected in the mirror.
18. Of Dukes And Dynasties
It’s almost too much to take in. Owned by the Cavendish family, distantly related to Queen Elizabeth through her mother’s side, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is everything that sparks the imagination when we wonder what the houses of wealthy aristocracy must contain. The best example is the Duke of Devonshire’s own Painted Hall.
For inspiration in creating an imperial masterpiece, the designer has looked back to emperors of old. The room itself is dedicated to the glory of the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, with painted murals across its expanse detailing the infamous story of his life. Who wouldn’t feel sublime descending that ornate staircase?
19. Sprawled Out With A Book
Meet Mette-Marit, the Crown Princess of Norway, pictured here in the drawing room of her royal residence at Skaugum Estate. She has lived there since her 2001 marriage to the Crown Prince Haakon, the heir apparent to the throne. Here, she’s getting ready for the annual literature tour throughout Norway, by sprawling out on the drawing room floor with a bunch of books.
Perhaps it’s not by chance that the Princess decided to unbox these books in the drawing room, as the first thing to notice about this royal family den is the amount of books that serve as an integral part of its decor. That plush carpet looks like the perfect space to stretch out with a good read.
20. Coffee With The Sultan
When people see the words ‘royal family’, chances are, they’re instantly inclined to think of Queen Elizabeth, or other royal dynasties in Europe. But the European royal families are far from the only regal powers still ruling the world. The Sultan of Brunei is just behind Queen Elizabeth as the world’s second-longest ruling monarch, and is one of the wealthiest people on Earth.
Thanks to its natural gas and petroleum resources, the Southeast Asian island nation has an extraordinarily powerful economy, affording its royal family a life of exquisite luxury. Seen here in their palace, Istana Nurul Iman, the Sultan stands with his Queen Consort and his third wife, in a sumptuous room whose obvious theme is sparkling gold.
21. Young And Royal
At barely over 50, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands is one of the world’s younger monarchs, having ascended to the Dutch throne after his mother Queen Juliana abdicated in 2013. And while some of the other royal Dutch possessions have been slowly opened to the public, Villa Eikenhorst remains their inner sanctum.
This mansion, located in The Hague, is the private residence of the Dutch royal family. So naturally, you would have to belong to a very specific echelon of society to be invited into this special space. Fitting the criteria was the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, when she arrived to the Netherlands on her first solo trip overseas.
22. Punk Princess
With the elaborate, fanciful twists and twirls of its archways, its columns and busts, the gold trim, and portraits from antiquity, there’s no mistaking that this villa belongs to the cream of the crop. The Princess of Thurn and Taxis, a famed socialite and close friend of Hillary Clinton, is proud to have preserved the ancient family residence at the south German abbey of St. Emmeram.
The massive abbey has stood ever since its establishment as a monastery well over 1,000 years ago, and contains a whopping 500 rooms. Part of its buildings were granted to the Princes of Thurn and Taxis in 1812, but this royal residence also boasts its own basilica. It is the largest building in Germany that is not a palace.
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