Clarence House: inside Prince Charles and Camilla’s home

Generations of royals have made their home in the London townhouse

Clarence House may not be among the most famous royal residences, but it is replete with history.

Since the 1940s alone, the grand stucco townhouse on The Mall has been the home of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother and princes William and Harry.

It is currently home to the Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. Prince Charles first lived at Clarence House between the ages of one and three and later moved back in a year after the death of his grandmother, The Queen Mother, in 2002.

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To mark Prince Charles’ 70th birthday in November 2018, Clarence House used Google’s Street View feature to let the public take a virtual “guided tour” of the royal townhouse.

Rooms are presented in a 360-degree view, along with annotations explaining their significance and some of their most notable features.

Artistic highlights include a Chippendale armchair, 18th-century Chinese porcelain and artwork by British painters including Graham Sutherland, W.S. Sickert and Augustus John.

In May, The Sunday Times reported that Charles is planning to open up the royal palaces to the public for longer periods of the year when he becomes king. He is likely to open Clarence House “year-round”, according to the paper. Currently it is only open for visitors in the summer.

On 6 July 2021, the Band of the Coldstream Guards took to the grounds of Clarence House to perform Three Lions and Sweet Caroline ahead of England’s semi-final football match against Denmark as part of the 2020 Euros.

The Band of the Coldstream Guards in the gardens of Clarence House

(Image credit: Victoria Jones-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Here's what you need to know about the royal residence:

Where is Clarence House and who lives there?

Clarence House sits halfway down The Mall in central London, nestled between St James’s Palace and Lancaster House.

It is the home to Charles and Camilla and also provides office accommodation for the Prince of Wales's household, who support their Royal Highnesses in their official engagements.

Most years, the house opens its doors to visitors in August for tours of the ground floor, while Charles and Camilla spend the summer at their Scottish residence, Birkhall. However, in 2019, Clarence House remained closed throughout the summer for essential maintenance work and it is currently closed to visitors due to coronavirus. The house will next open to visitors in 2022.

When was it built?

The royal residence was built between 1825 and 1827, to the designs of John Nash for Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence. Over the past two centuries, it has reflected the changes in its occupancy as the interior has been updated to meet the tastes of its residents.

What is its history?

The Duke of Clarence, who in 1830 became King William IV, commissioned the building and preferred to live there, rather than the nearby St James's Palace, because he found the latter too cramped.

The building was bombed during the Second World War and, after repairs, housed Queen Elizabeth II before her ascension in 1953.

The late Queen Mother lived there for half a century until her death, when Prince Charles had the home remodelled and moved in the following year. Nevertheless, almost all of his grandmother’s furniture has been accommodated in the house.

Prince William lived at Clarence House until his marriage in 2011, and Prince Harry until 2012.

What is it like inside?

One image from the new virtual tour shows the opulent Lancaster Room, on the first floor of the London residence, which is used as a sitting room for private guests

The room, situated off the entrance hall, boasts large windows and antique bookcases filled with volumes on topics such as gardening, art and painting.

Alongside antique Chinese vases, busts of famous historical figures and paintings of Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII, “there are nods to Charles and Camilla as the current inhabitants”, says the Daily Mail.

A photo of Prince Charles meeting Barack Obama at the White House in 2011 takes pride of place on a side table, next to a second framed portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, taken by Annie Leibovitz as part of a 2016 Vanity Fair photo shoot.

“In the Duke of Clarence's time the Lancaster Room, the first room off the Hall, was the Equerry's Room and has served as a waiting room for visitors ever since. The Morning Room was originally designed as the breakfast room,” says the Royal Collection.

This is where the Cambridges had their official photographs taken after Prince Louis's christening.

The Duchess of Kent had a large window out to the garden installed in 1841.

The Prince has also hosted international guests in the room, such as the Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (below).

And in October 2020, the Prince of Wales had a socially distanced meeting at Clarence House with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa and Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein.

Prince Charles with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein

(Image credit: Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

“The Library (pictured below in 1949) was used by The Queen Mother for intimate dinners when she lived in the house,” says the Royal Collection. “The Dining Room is enhanced with gilding and ceiling decoration from the early 1900s. The Garden Room was created from two rooms which Princess Margaret lived in before her marriage.”

The library of Clarence House in London, 1949. The house was built in 1825-27 by John Nash for the Duke of Clarence, later King William IV. The painting above the fireplace is the HMS Vanguar

(Image credit: 2003 Getty Images)

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