Mobile menu
Welcome back to the royal residences. Find out more about our measures to keep you safe.

Highlights of Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is open. For more information see our FAQs.

There are a lot of things to see and do at Windsor Castle. In the State Apartments you’ll explore ceremonial rooms that are used today by The Queen and members of the Royal Family and you’ll discover historical rooms that were built for Charles II and his Queen, Catherine of Braganza.

The State Apartments are open when the Castle is open, with a few exceptions throughout the year when official State events are taking place. Check the closures in advance of your visit. 

In order to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit, we have closed a small number of rooms where social distancing cannot be easily maintained including Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. We hope to reopen these spaces soon and when it is safe to do so.

The safety and wellbeing of our visitors and staff are our priority. In order to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit, some parts of your visit may not be available. For more information about safety measures during COVID-19, and the changes to your visit, see our Practical Information page.

State Apartments - Ceremonial Route

Windsor Castle State Apartments

Grand Reception Room ©

The ceremonial route will show you the main State Apartments that are used today by The Queen and members of the Royal Family. Within these rooms The Queen hosts official visits by Heads of State from other countries, investitures, and awards ceremonies, where British men and women are recognised for their achievements.

Perhaps the most striking room on the ceremonial route is the Grand Reception Room. With its chandeliers and gilding it was once used as the main ballroom in the Castle. One object you can't miss in this room is the large malachite urn, presented to Queen Victoria by Tsar Nicholas I in 1839, and one of the largest examples outside Russia. Looking around the gold-covered walls and ceilings it's hard to believe that this room was so severely damaged in the fire of 1992. The room was painstakingly repaired to its former glory, which you can see today. 

George IV gave the State Apartments a new grand entrance and staircase, added the colossal Waterloo Chamber (where the pantomime pictures are currently on display), celebrating the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815, and created a new set of private rooms within the Castle, the Semi-State Rooms.

Explore the Waterloo Chamber in our 360 image

Image credit: Will Pearson | Eye Revolution

State Apartments - Historic Route

The Queen's Drawing Room at Windsor Castle

The Queen's Drawing Room at Windsor Castle ©

Ceiling painting showing Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II ©

The historic route will show you the rooms that were built for Charles II and his Queen, Catherine of Braganza.

These rooms follow the pattern established in English palaces over hundreds of years; a series of rooms getting smaller as they get closer to the most private spaces. Admission was strictly controlled so that only the most important people in the court had access to the king and queen.

Charles II set out to rival the achievements of his cousin, Louis XIV, at Versailles in France. In the 17th century he modernised the Castle’s interiors, which became the grandest State Apartments in England, with painted ceilings by Antonio Verrio and carvings by Grinling Gibbons.

Since then the rooms have been changed significantly. Many of the painted ceilings were covered with ornamental plaster under the direction of architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville, who worked for George IV. The Grand Reception Room, which you’ll see on the ceremonial route, is an example of a gilded plaster ceiling, which was recreated after the Windsor Castle fire.

The State Apartments are furnished with some of the finest works of art from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Holbein, Van Dyck and Rubens. Many of the works of art are still in the historic settings for which they were first collected or commissioned by the kings and queens who lived at Windsor. If you want to know more about the rooms which are used by The Queen today read about the ceremonial route.

The Semi-State Rooms

Semi State Rooms at Windsor Castle

The Crimson Drawing Room ©

The Semi-State Rooms are the private apartments created for George IV. They feature interiors decorated by Morel & Seddon, with a selection of furnishings and fittings taken from Carlton House, George IV's former London residence. The rooms are among the most richly decorated interiors in the Castle and are used by The Queen for official entertaining. Learn more about George IV's ideas for furnishing the Green Drawing Room in our online trail.

George IV had a love of fine objects and a taste for the theatrical.  With his architect, Sir Jeffry Wyatville, he completely remodelled the Castle’s exterior during the 1820s, giving it the romantic and picturesque appearance seen today. He also decided to create the Semi-State Rooms, a new suite of private rooms on the sunnier east and south sides of the Castle, including the magnificent Crimson Drawing Room. This was George IV’s last and greatest commission, and one of the most elaborate and expensive interior decoration schemes ever carried out in England.

The Semi-State Rooms were severely damaged by the fire of 1992, although, by chance, their contents had been moved elsewhere at the time. They were completely restored to their 19th-century appearance using the original designs supplied to George IV.

The Semi-State Rooms are open from autumn until spring each year. The Semi-State Rooms are not open on days when the State Apartments are closed. For more details see our opening times. 


Explore the Crimson Drawing Room in our 360 image

Image credit: Will Pearson | Eye Revolution

pantomime pictures

Visitors looking at pantomime pictures


At the beginning of the Second World War, the series of portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence that usually line the walls of the Waterloo Chamber were removed from their frames for safe keeping. To make the space more festive, 16 ‘pantomime pictures’ were commissioned to cover the bare walls.

The teenage evacuee and part-time art student Claude Whatham, recreated characters including Cinderella, Peter Pan and Puss in Boots on rolls of wallpaper. After the war, the portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence were returned to the Waterloo Chamber, and the pantomime pictures remained hidden beneath them. They have been revealed just once since the war, following the fire of 1992. During the recent closure of the Castle, the portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence were removed to facilitate essential maintenance work. The newly revealed pantomime pictures can be seen by visitors to Windsor Castle. 

Precincts Tour

Precinct tours at Windsor Castle


When you first arrive at the Castle join a free 30-minute tour of the Castle Precincts (the outside areas of the Castle). The tours are led by Wardens and depart at regular intervals throughout the day from the Jubilee Bandstand at the start of the visit. 

The Precincts tour introduces the Castle’s 1,000-year history as a fortress and palace, and its role today as an official residence of The Queen. The tour ends at the entrance to the State Apartments on Henry VIII’s North Terrace, where you can enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Remember to tag your photos #WindsorCastle when you share them on Twitter or Instagram

Precinct tour times are advertised on a poster adjacent to the building from which multimedia tours are issued.

In order to ensure the safety of visitors and staff, Precinct Tours are temporarily unavailable. We hope to offer tours again when it is safe to do so.

Moat Room

Moat room


The Moat Room features a bronze model of Windsor Castle in 1377, drawing on the most recent research of how the Castle looked in the past as one of the greatest medieval palaces in Europe.  

A timeline illustrated with reigning monarchs along the length of the room provides context for the history of Windsor Castle.

St George's Chapel

St George's Chapel

St George's Chapel ©

The Chapel was the location of the wedding of HRH Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle

The Chapel was the location of the wedding of HRH Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle © PA

St George's Chapel within the grounds of Windsor Castle is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. Construction of the present Chapel began in 1475 under the reign of Edward IV. When visiting make sure you look up and admire the stone ceiling, which was added by Henry VII.

The Chapel has been the location of many royal weddings including HRH Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle.

The Chapel is the spiritual home of the Order of the Garter, the senior order of British Chivalry established in 1348 by Edward III.

Within the Chapel are the tombs of 10 monarchs, including Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour, and Charles I.

Among the many monuments in the Chapel, look out for the spectacular marble memorial by Matthew Wyatt to George IV's only child, Princess Charlotte, who died in childbirth in 1817.

When the Castle is open (Thursday - Monday currently) the Chapel closes at 16:15 (last entry 16:00), in order to prepare for the evening church service at 17:15 (doors open at 17:00). The chapel is closed to visitors on Sundays as services are held throughout the day. Worshippers are welcome to attend the services. More details are available on the Chapel website

Changing the Guard

Changing the Guard at Windsor Castle

Changing the Guard ©

Changing the Guard is a colourful spectacle of British pageantry, but also has a military purpose. The ceremony takes place to allow the handover of duties between two groups of guards. The privilege of guarding the monarch traditionally belongs to the Household Troops, better known as ‘the Guards’, who have carried out this duty since 1660.

When can I watch the ceremony?

The ceremony can be watched by Castle visitors on Thursdays and Saturdays. The guards arrive at the Castle just before 11:00, but the schedule can change, check the British Army website for details. The guards march through Windsor town into the Castle, where the guard change takes place. To watch the full ceremony inside the Castle you will need to purchase an admission ticket.


Queen Mary's Dolls' House

Queen Mary's Dolls House, Windsor Castle

The Library in the Dolls' House contains over 200 books. ©

Queen Mary's Dolls' House was built between 1921 and 1924 for Queen Mary, wife of George V, by the leading British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. It includes contributions from over 1,500 of the finest artists, craftsmen and manufacturers of the early twentieth century.

From life below stairs to the high-society setting of the saloon and dining room, and from a library bursting with original works by the top literary names of the day, to a fully stocked wine cellar and a garden, created by Gertrude Jekyll, no detail was forgotten. The house even includes electricity, running hot and cold water and working lifts. Each room is fully furnished and waiting to be explored.

In order to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit, we have closed a small number of rooms where social distancing cannot be easily maintained including Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. We hope to reopen these spaces soon and when it is safe to do so.

You can find out more about the Dolls' House online or watch our behind the scenes video.


Treasures of the Castle

Treasures in the Collection


While touring the State Apartments and Semi-State Rooms remember to stop and admire not only the paintings created by many famous artists hanging on the walls, but also the varied displays of objects in each room. These include the arms and armour in the Grand Vestibule, elaborate china used in State Banquets and ornate pieces of furniture. Learn more about the Royal Collection at the Castle.

Highlights film

Watch our short film about visiting the Castle ©