Sandringham

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Photos are not allowed inside Sandringham House, but mere tourists like me are allowed to take pictures outside and in the nearby museum. This is the very grand entry, used by tourists and guests invited for grand occasions. I just learned that the Queen was recently in residence, possibly while I was there. But I’m sure there is a very private entrance for her and her personal guests. (I think there’s a separate ballroom entrance, which is an exit for tourists).

Yesterday Prince William and his newly-expanded family left London for Anmer Hall, their newly-expanded mansion on the Sandringham estate. I thought I’d post a few photos from my recent visit there.

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Sandringham is only open to tourists for a few months a year. At other times, it is the strictly private property of the Royal Family, bought during Victorian times as a retreat. The gardens have been open to the public since 1908.  King George V created and opened the Museum in 1930, with an admission charge of 3 pence. In 1977, the present Queen Elizabeth decided to open some rooms of the house to tourists for a few months a year–very good PR, I think.  The place certainly won me over.

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The museum, in the old stable block, is as interesting as the house. It contains, as the British would say, a lot of “bits and bobs” about the Royal Family. 

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The family follows traditional pastimes at their country home. This old photo shows royal children looking very serious in 1905. Princes Edward, Albert and Henry and Princess Mary are taking instruction in marching from the Piper, Forsyth. 

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Among many fascinating retired vehicles, there’s a picnic wagon which was in use until fairly recently, when it was replaced with a new one. The picnic wagon has a place for everything, including wine bottles and fine china. It’s housed in a large building with murals that show the Royal Family and their friends enjoying the great outdoors in their beautiful grounds. I’m sure family picnics will continue for the newest great-grandchildren of the Queen.

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Who knew that the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, is a painter? He’s pretty good. Who can resist this little informal portrait of the Queen reading the morning paper?

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The room guides in the house are the Queen’s regular trusted servants. They’re friendly and happy to chat. In the grand formal dining room, I asked whether the Corgis have the run of the house. Of course they do! The Queen feeds them personally in the Gun Room, and they mill around under the dining room table, probably cadging scraps like any other dogs. Right now there are seven Corgis. An elderly dog, the Queen’s beloved Monty, died recently.

This year, Queen Elizabeth will become the longest-reigning British monarch in history.  She has had to overcome her share of family troubles and occasional anti-monarchy sentiment.  But as far as I can see, the Brits really love their Queen.  And right now it seems most British folks also love the very appealing young family of William, Kate, George and Charlotte.

The new little Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge will no doubt be delighted by the Queens’s Corgis. I’m sure the Queen will be a doting great-grandmother!

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