Fort Belvedere: The forgotten royal residence of King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson

Wallis Simpson 'never forgave' the Queen Mother says expert

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Located in Windsor Great Park is Fort Belvedere, a huge property that has housed several members of the Royal Family over the decades. But under the reign of King Edward VIII in 1936, Fort Belvedere would be the backdrop of a major moment in British royal history.

After the death of King George V in January 1936, George’s eldest son Prince Edward took the throne as King Edward VIII.

But determined to marry a twice-divorcee, Wallis Simpson, Edward faced opposition from the Church and decided to formally renounce the throne.

The signing of the abdication papers actually took place at Fort Belvedere in December 1936, and the King would only be on the throne for just short of a year.

Edward subsequently left the UK for France, married Wallis in 1937, and the newly-created Duke and Duchess of Windsor later called 4 Route du Champ d’Éntraînement their ‘Villa Windsor’.

But Edward was known to have greatly enjoyed his time at Fort Belvedere.

He was once thought to have said the Fort was where he spent “some of the happiest days” of his life.

He hosted many legendary parties at the residence at the weekends, often with Wallis Simpson in attendance in the early 1930s.

Edward had moved into Fort Belvedere when he was still the Prince of Wales in 1929, and he commissioned drastic renovations to the property both inside and out.

Edward added a swimming pool and a tennis court, in addition to modernised central heating and en-suite bathrooms.

Fort Belvedere is a Crown Estate property, but no royals currently live there and it has been dubbed the “forgotten” castle.

From the 1950s, the Queen’s cousin Gerald Lascelles lived there, and now private tenants call the historic royal residence home.

Earlier this year, reports circulated that Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge had considered Fort Belvedere in their hunt for a new home.

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The future King and Queen Consort are currently based at Kensington Palace, and their country home of Anmer Hall is far away in Norfolk.

The Cambridges were on the lookout for a new base in Windsor to be closer to the Queen and Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s new school.

Fort Belvedere is perfectly situated for this purpose, sitting approximately seven miles away from the Queen’s Berkshire base of Windsor Castle.

But it is thought Kate and William have opted instead for Adelaide Cottage, a rather modest royal home in Windsor Home Park.

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