The Daily Mail is reporting that Queen Elizabeth II has gifted Adelaide Cottage at Windsor to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Although this report seems credible -- unlike the reports that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were going to move into York Cottage at Sandringham -- but Kensington Palace has not confirmed the report.
Adelaide Cottage is located in the Home Park in Windsor, which is separate from Windsor Great Park as it is not open to the public. Frogmore House is also located in the Home Park.
Sir Jeffrey Wyatville (1766-1840) built the cottage in 1839 on the site of the Headkeeper's Lodge. Material from the demolished Royal Lodge was used to build the new cottage, which was named in honor of Queen Adelaide, consort of William IV.
On the morning of March 12, 1831, King William IV "took an airing in Little Windsor Park in his pony phaeton, and inspected Adelaide Cottage," according to a report in the Norfolk Chronicle and Norwich Gazette. The newspaper described the cottage as a "romantic building." that has "a delightful effect from the road leading through the park from Datchet."
The Times noted on August 6, 1832, that there would be a "splendid morning fete at Adelaide Cottage," on the morning of the Queen's birthday. The cottage's grounds "have been very tastefully laid out under her Majesty's inspection."
Queen Adelaide was born Princess Adelheid of Saxe-Meiningen on August 13, 1792. She married Prince William, Duke of Clarence at Kew Palace on July 11, 1818, in a double wedding with William's younger brother, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, who married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
The King and Queen often spent time at the cottage, especially during the summers, when they could be driven there in a pony phaeton. Queen Adelaide would, on occasion, with her ladies, walk to the cottage for tea or other refreshments and then walk back to Windsor Castle\, sometimes strolling through the town.
In April 1831, the Queen, "with her attendants, gratified a numerous assemblage of nobility and gentry, by walking through the Terrace on Sunday afternoon, during the grand promenade. Her Majesty proceeded on foot through the slopes to Adelaide Cottage, and on her return attended the afternoon service at St. George's Chapel," according to the Windsor Herald.
There are no references to Queen Adelaide visiting the cottage after the death of her husband, King William, in June 1837. William's successor was his 18-year-old niece, Victoria, who often visited the cottage after she became queen. She enjoyed having breakfast or tea at Adelaide Cottage.
In March 1838, it was reported that the Board of Woods and Forests were "engaged in forming a private carriage way from the north door of the Terrace Conservatory through the Little Park to Adelaide Cottage. This drive will be enclosed within a Ha! Ha! fence, and screened with shrubberies, etc.; and it is intended to form an easier mode of access for her Majesty to visit this delightful retreat, the occasionally rapid ascents of the walk through the slopes have already been fatiguing."
During the first summer of their marriage, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert would often walk from Windsor Castle to Adelaide Cottage and would return to the castle on a pony phaeton. The Cottage offered the young couple to relax away from the pressures of court life at the Castle. In August 1841, Prince Albert celebrated his birthday at the cottage with a quiet lunch with his wife, where they were treated to a serenade. The cottage was also a place where the Queen's children could enjoy free time with their parents.
The cottage was also a place where the Queen and Prince Albert could entertain with less formality, often inviting family members, including the Duchess of Kent, the Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (Victoria's older half-sister, Feodore), and Albert's brother, Ernst, and his wife. In September 1846, the Queen and Prince Albert, the Princess of Prussia, "and all of her Majesty's visitors, except the Queen Dowager, walked to Adelaide Cottage" and after spending some time there, the royal party returned to Windsor Castle in pony carriages.
By the 1850s, Adelaide Cottage had become a grace and favor home. George Fleming, who began a career in Royal service at age 15, rose to become Victoria's Page of the Bedchamber. He and his family lived in Adelaide Cottage for 35 years. Victoria's children often spent time at the cottage with the Fleming children.
King George V and Queen Mary would also use the cottage for afternoon tea.
In 1944, Adelaide Cottage became the home of Peter and Rosemary Townsend and their young son Giles. Townsend, who served in the Royal Air Force during the second world war, was named as equerry to King George VI. A year later, the couple's second son, Hugo, was born at Adelaide Cottage.
The Townsends were divorced in 1952 due to Rosemary's adulterous relationship with John Laszlo, son of the famed portrait painter, Philip de Laszlo. Townsend became involved with Princess Margaret and they made plans to marry. Although he was not the guilty party in the divorce, Townsend was tainted by the stigma of the divorce and would not have been allowed to remarry in the Church of England. This proved to be a major hurdle in the couple's relationship and in October 1955, Princess Margaret ended the relationship.
For 22 years Adelaide Cottage was the home of Sir John Johnston and his wife, the Hon. Elizabeth "Libby" Hardinge, the younger daughter of the 2nd Lord Hardinge of Penshurst, who as Alec Hardinge, served as Private Secretary to King Edward VIII and King George VI.
Libby Johnston was a childhood friend of Queen Elizabeth. A year younger than the future queen, Libby joined Princess Elizabeth in the classroom in the palace.
Her mother, Helen Cecil, was a childhood friend of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who served as one of the bridesmaids at Helen's wedding. The Queen Mother was one of Libby's godparents.
Simon Rhodes, the son of Queen Elizabeth's first cousin, the Hon. Margaret Rhodes, lived in the cottage with his family after leaving Rhodesia.
Sir Hugh Roberts, former Director of the Royal Collection and his wife, Jane, the former Librarian at the Royal Archives, also resided at Adelaide Cottage.
The property underwent renovation in 2015. Adelaide Cottage has a storied history, built for a much-loved Queen Consort. If the reports are true, the cottage will once again become a home, this time for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It must be noted that Adelaide Cottage is not privately owned, but a part of the Crown Estates, which means the Sussexes would acquire a long lease, but would not actually own the home.