Clarence House takes its name from its first occupant: William, Duke of Clarence, the third son of George III, who reigned as William IV from 1830 to 1837. He entered the Royal Navy at the age of 13 in 1778 and over a career of 30 years – neither disadvantaged by birth nor association – rose from the rank of midshipman to admiral of the fleet in 1811. The latter appointment coincided with a turning point in his career, his father’s final madness of 1810.
Up until this moment he had seemed like an unlikely heir to the throne and lived accordingly. On land his activities had been the subject of scandal and for upwards of 20 years he lived with the comic actress Dorothy Bland, known as Mrs Jordan, who bore him 10 children.
These days, before HM King Charles III acceded to the throne following the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September 2022 – Clarence House was the former Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s official London royal residence – a beautiful terraced house in Westminster, central London. among one of the world’s best homes. But while they greatly admired this historic home, the royal couple’s hearts were firmly in the countryside at their main family home – Highgrove House in Gloucestershire – and other residences in rural Wales and Scotland.
Who lives in Clarence House?
While Queen Elizabeth II was alive, the then Prince and Duchess lived at Clarence House in London, which is located next to St James’s Palace in Westminster and was the home of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh after their marriage in 1947.
The Queen Mother lived there from 1953 until her death in 2002. Charles then inherited the central London residence, and while it has undergone renovations, he has kept many of the rooms and furnishings as they were when his grandmother lived there.
It was recently reported that King Charles III and his Queen Consort will continue to live in Clarence House, which has been their London home for nearly 20 years, while renovation work on the palace is completed.
Did Queen Elizabeth II live in Clarence House?
It was the London home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother from 1953 to 2002 and was also home to The Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, and the Duke of Edinburgh after their marriage in 1947.
While in residence, King Charles III carried out extensive renovation work before moving into Clarence House on 4 August 2003.
Clarence House also provides office accommodation for the Prince of Wales’ household, who support the reigning monarch in their official engagements and are linked to over 350 organizations whose work they are involved in, according to Royal UK (opens in new tab).
Who owns Clarence House?
Clarence House, one of the last remaining aristocratic townhouses in London, is an official residence owned by The Crown Estate.
According to The Crown Estate (opens in new tab) website: ‘The Crown estate belongs to the reigning monarch ‘in right of The Crown’, meaning it is owned by the monarch throughout their reign by virtue of their accession to the throne.’ Clarence House is not a private property belonging to the monarch, meaning that it cannot be sold by the monarch, nor does the income from it belong to the reigning monarch.
The Government does not own The Crown Estate either. It is managed by an independent organization – established by law – headed by The Crown Estate Commissioners, and the surplus income from the estate is paid out each year to the Treasury for the benefit of the nation’s wealth and economy.
Is Clarence House open to the public?
Part of Clarence House (opens in new tab) is open to the public in August and visitors can be shown around five rooms on the ground floor. The decor is grand yet soothing with antique rugs and impressive chandeliers. There are also personal photographs on display, including wedding photos and pictures of King Charles’ sons, Princes William and Harry, when they were children. The former prize also displays some of his own watercolor paintings.
While in residence, Charles often hosted official visitors at Clarence House, most often in the formal drawing room, which has large, grand lamps, historic family paintings and a pale blue-and-gold theme. The morning room boasts a large open fireplace, historic artwork and antique furniture.
A keen gardener and environmentalist, the grounds have been carefully thought out and cared for, and King Charles III personally designed a formal area of the grounds in 2004 in honor of the Queen Mother. The planting was done by members of the Prince’s School for Traditional Art. Clarence House also provides offices for the Prince of Wales’ household and is used by Charles and Camilla for receptions, official entertaining and to host official visitors to the UK.