Windsor Castle Found to be Quite Small

Friday 11th September 2020

Three weeks ago I went to Windsor with Royston King on a public ticket for which he paid. The great attraction was that the East Terrace was open for the first time in 40 years. Then you could tour inside.

But actually the best brilliance was the huge numbers of people also touring. Can you think of a better place to catch that thing and die than Windsor Castle? What could bring a person nearer to the Throne? As Royston has always said, to understand the British Royal Family you have to visit Windsor. Not for nothing are they the House of Windsor.

I drove officially to Windsor, but just as with the design of the Royal Train, ‘Bob0 was the client really,’ the Queen’s Dresser, the true driver was Royston, beyond turnings and routes and even as far as speeds. ‘Only 23 miles an hour?’ he whipped at one point, whipping on more towards the full 30. Parking in Windsor town was Hell. I’ve never known such manoeuvrings in the car park cleverly schemed so that all the cars could get in but there if no parking space, couldn’t get out again. Trapped.

I was in a state because we were going to be late for our slot. Maybe there’d be an outbreak or we’d just be shot, not even Royston’s OBE providing a shield to the Royal bullets. One feels that could happen nowadays.

Before the parking phase we had lunch at the Queen’s Farm Shop. Outdoors. Food pushed through a hatch as in suburbia of old. Didn’t dare use the toilets.

So at last into the Castle. From the North Terrace, it might be a grand kind of school or superior asylum with the dirty pink tarmac to be traversed before penetration into the reconstituted Gothic. We raced round to the East Terrace, remaining outdoors, not able to resist the main excitement first – the East Terrace open for the first time in 40 years. Some Gays were there, one in mini-shorts with featured bum. There were rose beds on the East Terrace. Statues, lawn, balustrades, rose beds, so a remarkable uniform green, there being a stubborn lack of blooms. Royston’s jaw was on the floor. Just not trying, he said. The terrace is high up with a view directly to London, so it appears to be a terrace of London itself, the direct link between the Monarch and her Capital. A bare sort of place, chiefly sky and stone, with London 20 miles away. That side of the Castle itself must be where they sit out, on a further grim stone terrace with a sun lounger on it.

We went within, following those Gays and that bum. It has much more charm than I remember from 40 years ago and it really is quite small, like Buckingham Palace. Modest rooms crammed up together with no corridors between and all in different styles. Suddenly there’s a cream and gilt rococo manifestation, then the curious 20th century re-interpretation of 19th century Gothic in St George’s Hall and a very novel anti-chamber rebuilt after the fire of 1992, with a tubular Gothic with no capitals. Superb workmanship. ¬†They didn’t just re-make it exactly as it was. All these badges and knightly insignia, standards and armaments are now in a background of modern English oak work carried out, I like to think, by posh yobs in artisanal roles. Maybe that one met in Normandy a few years ago, the brother-in-law of Alice Temperley, a dream of a craftsman, was one of them.

We couldn’t see the drawing rooms, but the Charles 1 suite was on view – superb.. Grinling Gibbons. V wooden, dark of course, furniture great clumps of swirl, a suite of actual silver furniture including mirrors, massy but the overall effect cosy. You could spend the afternoon in those rooms reading magazines and listening to the Afternoon Play before tea.

Royston homed in on a German guide and got her story, length of time in Britain, reasons for coming and staying, feelings in general and her great loyalty to the Throne although German. He just knows where the story is and gets it. He explained that the last time he had been at Windsor was to receive an OBE. In the Waterloo Chamber it was that he received his OBE and while we were in there he asked the guide to remind him of where he had stood and through which door he had come. She knew it all.

Afterwards we sat in the Round Tower moat garden (cottagey and profuse), talking of Sir Digton Probyn who made it. If you don’t know who Sir Digton Probyn was it’s time you found out. I’m convinced he married Charlotte Knollys in the end, as an upshot of their long confinement together at Sandringham with the widowed Queen Alexandra. But I need to check for sure. Possibly Sir Dig was unmarried on account of his unbelievable service to King Edward V11. Just not a minute to spare for marriage. After that we ventured into an outdoor pub talking of Diana and Royston said how disastrous was her Panorama interview. For her, not anybody else. Such a new and brilliant view. As a result the Queen ordered a divorce. Because she said Charles would never be King. If only she’d taken advice. The Panorama interview lead directly to her death. The big question is: did the BBC fail in their Duty of Care towards her in allowing her to do the interview at all? Royston had so much insider on it all. Martin Bashir also killed off Michael Jackson in the same manner. Incredibly plausible approach, so charming and seductive. Then jaws snap and that’s it.

On the way home we covered the Royal Family with less glaring intensity, more a quiet, unceasing Royal murmur after the terrific spate on Sir Digton and Princess Diana.

Windsor the East Terrace: Rare Opening but a Bit Bare

Windsor the East Terrace: Rare Opening but a Bit Bare

Could this be Her Lounger? The East Terrace Windsor Casle

Could this be Her Lounger? The East Terrace Windsor Castle

Windsor the Quadrangle: Cosy and Intimate. The Private Apartments are on the Right

Windsor the Quadrangle: Cosy and Intimate. The Private Apartments are on the Right

The Round Tower Garden made by Sir Digton Probyn

The Round Tower Garden made by Sir Digton Probyn

 

 

Posted Friday, September 11, 2020 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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