Inside Hillsborough Castle—the Queen’s lesser known Irish home

Charles and Camilla visit Hillsborough Castle on their anniversary

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Hillsborough Castle is the Queen’s official Northern Ireland residence, and prior to the pandemic, would host the Royal Family two or three times a year. The stunning property was bought by the British government in the early 20th century and has been used as a conference space ever since. The Queen’s main residence is in Buckingham Palace. She then spends her summers at Balmoral, and her Christmases at Sandringham.

She also has a great love for Windsor Castle, where the Queen and Prince Philip chose to spend lockdown in 2020.

Queen Elizabeth visits these incredible properties throughout the year as much as she can, however in 2020 this could not happen due to the pandemic.

Especially as Hillsborough is in Northern Ireland, the Queen could not visit it at all.

This castle is in the village of Hillsborough in County Down, and is a very grand property.

It is only a twenty-minute drive outside of the capital city Belfast, so is perfect for diplomatic meetings.

Technically Hillsborough Castle is not actually a castle, but is a grand Georgian house built for an Irish noble family.

It was eventually bought by the British government in 1922 after the partition of Ireland.

Prior to 1972, it was used as the office for the Governor of Northern Ireland until the post was abolished in favour of direct rule from London.

The Queen’s Secretary of State moved in as her representative and the house from that point continued to host royal visitors.

It remains the official Northern Irish residence for the Queen, who has visited the castle 25 times over her reign.

The property measures at 100-acres and has an Instagram account where royal fans can get sneak peaks inside the lush royal residence.

When Her Majesty is not visiting, the property is occupied by Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis.

The luxurious home includes several State Rooms, all of which boast royal artifacts and elegant decorations.

Its grandest attraction is the Throne Room, which even hosted a celebratory ball for the Queen’s coronation in 1953.

The colossal crystal chandeliers which can be seen on Hillsborough Castle’s Instagram, shows that this room is perfect for royal engagements.

There is also the State Dining Room, which continues to serve meals to VIP guests.

According to Town and Country Magazine, it can seat up to 40 guests for dinner and host 60 for a reception, making it ideal for royal galas.

The Red Room, is the conference space in the house where the Queen has met the Irish presidents across her reign.

From photographs, it can be seen to have crimson walls decorated with portraits of British monarchs.

A round table is in the centre of the room, perfect for diplomatic discussions and debates.

Hillsborough’s outdoors are also very elegant, with a walled garden, a Yew Tree Walk, and a tranquil temple.

The castle is currently open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday, with adult tickets costing £9.90.

The price includes full access to the house and gardens, and there is no time limit on the visit.

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