Fairytale royal gardens: Kate Middleton, King Charles and more private homes

Royal gardens have formed the backdrop to many poignant events throughout history, and are living examples of beautiful British horticulture. 

“To me, gardening is rather like painting. You need to get the paint on – and not muck about,” King Charles said of his lifelong passion for gardening on BBC Radio 4’s Gardener’s Question Time

Several royal gardens are open to the public to enjoy, with blooming displays of flora and fauna tamed by the royal gardeners a must-see for the summer. 

From the sprawling wildflower meadows at Sandringham House to the pristine lawns of Buckingham Palace, HELLO! lists the royal gardens you don’t want to miss.

The Topiary Garden will have more plants next year© Bav Media / Geoff Robinson

Sandringham House and Gardens

Open to the public: April – October 2024

Price: £14 adult, free for children under 17

Sandringham House, King Charles and Queen Camilla’s private country retreat, is set within 24 hectares of gardens which are often said to be perhaps the finest of all the royal gardens. 

Every generation of the royal family has made their own additions and changes to the picturesque estate, which features a lake, woodland walk and beautiful plants that can be visited by the public from the beginning of April to late October each year.

One of the gardens, the North Garden, has been informally planted in a cottage garden style, making it a haven for bees and butterflies. With colourful plants surrounded by pristine hedgerows, this would be a beautiful garden to spend time in during the spring and summer.

READ: King Charles’ new fun feature for grandchildren George, Charlotte and Louis at Sandringham

Buckingham Palace gardens© Unsplash

Buckingham Palace

Open to the public: 11 July to 29 September 2024

Price: £47 adult, from £32.50 concessions

Buckingham Palace is home to the largest private garden in London, spanning 39 acres with more than 350 types of wildflowers, around 200 trees, and a three-acre lake. 

In keeping with the late Queen Elizabeth II’s tradition, the King welcomes over 30,000 guests to the Buckingham Palace Garden Parties each year, while visitors can also explore the grounds from July until late September each year as part of the opening of the State Rooms.

Prince William and Prince Harry unveiling a statue in honour of Princess Diana© WPA Pool

Kensington Palace

Open to the public: Every day, 10am to 6pm

Price: Free

A beautiful oasis in the heart of London, the Kensington Palace gardens have played host to many of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ most precious moments with their children; Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis in their early years of life. 

Kensington Palace is home to the Sunken Garden, recognised as where Prince Harry and Meghan posed for their engagement photocall and the home of a memorial statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, visitors can also tour the formal gardens and Cradle Walk, which transforms into a pretty tunnel during the summer months.

The wildflower meadow to the south east of the palace includes poppies, campion, daisies, and many other native wildflowers, which bloom in the summer months.

Balmoral castle

Balmoral Castle

Open to the public: 23 March – 11 August 2024

Price: £17.50 adult, £9 children (Aged five – 16)

Balmoral Castle has long been a deeply private retreat for the royal family, as was the one place on earth the late Queen Elizabeth II was considered to be her “happiest”.  

Originally started under the supervision of Prince Albert, the gardens have been expanded and transformed by successive members of the royal family. The late Duke of Edinburgh even commissioned a large kitchen garden, which is harvested between August and October during the royal family’s annual summer holiday.

The formal gardens, covering some three acres, also contain a range of Victorian glasshouses and the conservatory, which displays flowering pot plants throughout the year.

Frogmore House, Windsor© Getty

Frogmore House and Gardens

Before they stepped down from royal duties, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were lucky to have the extensive grounds of Frogmore House and Gardens on their doorstep when they lived at Frogmore Cottage. The residence is now empty.

The gardens were laid out in the 1790s by Queen Charlotte’s vice-chamberlain, Major William Price, and the Rev. Christopher Alderson of Derbyshire. The duo created the winding lakes, wooded mounds, glades, walks and bridges that have captured the hearts of Prince Harry and Meghan and served as the backdrop for the royal couple’s official engagement photos. 

Visitors can only explore the site on three days each year, typically at charity garden parties in May. For now, the garden remains closed to the public. 

A general view of the gardens at Highgrove House Coronation Meadows Initiative Launch at Highgrove House, Tetbury, Britai© Shutterstock

Highgrove House

Open to the public: 23 June 2024 – 30 September 2024

Price: £34.50

 

King Charles and Queen Camilla’s private residence in Gloucestershire boasts beautiful gardens which have been praised for their inspiring and innovative designs. 

Highlights include the cottage garden, sundial garden and wildflower meadow, a four-acre plot with oaks, chestnuts, poplars and beech trees. 

The Royal Gardens at Highgrove are open to the public for guided tours on selected dates, and visitors can also pick up supplies from the on-site shop, which sells Highgrove teas and coffee, wine, confectionery and more.

Clarence House© Getty Images

Clarence House

Open to the public: No

Price: N/A

Before the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Clarence House has been the official London residence of King Charles and Queen Camilla since 2003. The royal couple continue to spend a large amount of their time there when they are not required to be at Buckingham Palace. 

The residence features beautiful gardens with a formal area added by Charles in 2004 in memory of his late grandmother the Queen Mother. 

The residence is currently closed to the public while the monarch continues his treatment for cancer in private. 

The Physic Garden at the Palace of Holyroodhouse© Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2024

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Open to the public: 7 days a week in July, August and September

Price: £20 adult, £10-13 children

The King’s official residence in Edinburgh has four hectares of beautiful gardens, and was the location for Zara and Mike Tindall’s wedding reception in 2011. Set against the backdrop of Arthur’s Seat, the gardens have uninterrupted views towards the Queen’s Park, also known as Holyrood Park.

Highlights are said to include the Jubilee Border, originally planted with silver plants in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a rare Wentworth Elm tree and Queen Mary’s sundial, which was made for Charles I’s Scottish coronation in 1633. 

The late Queen hosted her annual garden party at the palace each summer; a tradition continued by King Charles, while visitors can also book tickets to tour the gardens via Royal Collection Trust.


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