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British Royal Palaces

 Royals are renowned for their opulent abodes and Queen Elizabeth II is no exception, with Buckingham Palace being the most famous regal residence in the world. But how much do you know about the rest of the the family's properties? The Queen has several official residences and most of of her relatives have at least a share of one as well. There are also disused and historic palaces, many of which are almost as famous as Buckingham Palace itself. Click through to discover twenty of the most famous palaces in the United Kingdom.

 Buckingham Palace
Location: City of Westminster, London History: Built in 1702 for the Duke of Buckingham, Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence of the British monarch since Queen Victoria's accession in 1837. Current residents are the Queen, Prince Phillip, and the families of her youngest sons The Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex
Hampton Court Palace
 Location: East Molesey, Greater London History: Originally built for King Henry VIII's favourite courtier Cardinal Wolsey in 1514, the castle became a favoured residence of the King himself when Wolsey fell out of favour in 1529. Henry expanded the palace to accommodate his one thousand-strong court and, most notably, had several large kitchens installed to cater for his penchant for banqueting. It is currenty used for pop concerts and an annual flower show, and is one of only two surviving palaces used by Henry.
 Sandringham House
Location: Sandringham, Norfolk History: The 20,000 acre Sandringham Estate is privately owned by the Royal Family and is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the east coast of England. It was bought by Queen Victoria in 1862 for her son, the future Edward VII, but was demolished and rebuilt in 1865 after he found it too small for his needs.
Holyrood Palace
 Location: Edinburgh, Scotland History: Also known as Holyrood Palace, it is the official residence of the monarch in Scotland. Holyrood Abbey was founded by David I, King of Scots in 1128, while Holyrood Palace has been the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 15th century. Queen Elizabeth II currently spends one week a year there, carrying out official engagements at the beginning of each summer.
Palace of  Westminster
 Location: City of Westminster, London History: Also known as the Houses of Parliament, the main political centre in the United Kingdom is in fact also a royal palace. It was used as the primary residence of the Kings of England until a large fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512. It also fell victim to fire in 1834 and was hit by bombs on 14 separate occasions during World War II. Clock Tower, more commonly referred to as Big Ben, is considered by many to be England's greatest landmark.

Osborne House 
 Location: East Cowes, Isle of Wight History: Based just off the south of England on the Isle of Wight, Osborne House was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's rural summer retreat. Built in 1847, Albert designed the house himself in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. The house became surplus to requirements when Victoria died there in 1901 and was handed to the state
 The Royal Pavilion
Location: Brighton, East Sussex History: Built as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales (who subsequently became Prince Regent and later King George IV) in 1782, The Royal Pavilion is built in the distinctive Indo- Saracenic style prevalent in India in the 19th Century. The Prince decided to establish a base in fashionable Brighton after he developed a taste for fine food, gaming, theatre and fast living, and his physician had advised him that sea water would be good for his gout.
Edinburgh Castle
 Location: Edinburgh, Scotland History: This castle fortress sits atop the volcanic Castle Rock and dominates the skyline of the Scottish capital. Human habitatian of site is believed to date back to the 9th century. The castle was a royal residence from the time of King David I of Scotland in the 12th century, and continued to be used as such until the Union of the Crowns - the merging of the English and Scottish crowns - in 1603

Somerset House
Location: The Strand, City of Westminster, London History: Somerset House was built in 1549, shortly after Henry VIII's ailing young son Edward VI took the throne. As the King was both ill and yet to meet maturity, The Duke of Somerset was appointed his Lord Protector and built the house as his own personal residence. After Somerset was executed in 1552, it fell into the hands of the crown and eventually became residence of Elizabeth I prior to her accession in 1558, as well the Queens of James I, Charles I, and Charles II.
Banqueting House

 Location: City of Westminster, London History: Banqueting House is the only remaining component of the Palace of Whitehall, which was the main residence of English monarchs between 1530 and 1698 when it was destroyed by fire. The house was completed in 1622, 27 years before King Charles I was executed in front of it in 1649
Kew Palace 

Location: Kew Gardens, Kew, Greater London History: There have been at least four palaces on this site, and at least three of them have been known as Kew Palace. The current building to bear that name was originally a relatively modest mansion called Dutch House that stood opposite the previous palace. It was built in 1631, and was used intermittently as a royal residence between 1728 and 1898. Kew is now famous as the location of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
 Stirling Castle 
Location: Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland History: Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most historically important castles in Scotland. Many Scottish Kings and Queens were crowned there, including Mary, Queen of Scots in 1543. There have also been at least eight sieges of the castle, including several during the Wars of Scottish Independence. The last of these was in 1746, when Bonnie Prince Charlie unsuccessfully tried to take the castle.
 The Castle of Mey
 Location: Thurso, Caithness, Scotland History: Built between 1566 and 1572, The Castle of Mey was near derelict until 1952 when it came into the hands of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother - widow of George VI and mother of Elizabeth II - who set about restoring it for use as a holiday home. It is open to the public during the summer, with a closed period of ten days at the end of July when The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall (known in Scotland as The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay) usually stay at Mey.
Windsor Castle
 Location: Windsor, Berkshire History: Windsor Castle was originally built by William the Conquerer shortly after the 1066 Norman Conquest, and since the time of Henry I (circa 1100) it has been used as an official residence for a succession of monarchs. It is the longest-occupied palace in Europe.
 Balmoral Castle

Location: Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland History: The Balmoral Estate was originally a home built by Sir William Drummond in 1390. It is now best known as Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh's summer retreat, and its recent history as a royal residence dates back to when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert first leased it in 1848
Kensington  Palace
 Location: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London History: The original early 17th-century building was built for the Earl of Nottingham and was later improved by the great architect Christopher Wren. It was for 70 years a favoured residence of the monarch, until George II died in 1760. It is currently the official residence of The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and was the official residence of Princess Diana, the Queen Mother and Princess Alice until their respective deaths in 1997, 2002 and 2004. It is also used unofficially by Prince Harry.
 Clarence House
Location: City of Westminster, London History: Clarence House is the official residence of Princes Charles, William and Harry and, although not a palace in itself, is attached to the larger St James's Palace. It was commissioned by William IV (who was known as the Duke of Clarence before he became King in 1830) in 1825 after he complained he found the main accomodation in St James's Palace too cramped
Highgrove House
 Location: Doughton, Gloucestershire History: Highgrove is a country estate that was built in 1798 and acquired by Prince Charles' Duchy of Cornwall in 1980. He currently uses it as a weekend home, and it has been used for organic farming since 1985
St.James's Palace
 Location: City of Westminster, London History: The palace was commissioned by Henry VIII on the site of a former leper hospitall which disbanded in 1532. Charles I had his last sleep there prior to being executed in 1649, and it then became a barracks during the rule of Oliver Cromwell. It is still a working palace today, and is the official home of Princess Anne and Princess Alexandra.
The Tower Of London
Location: Borough of Tower Hamlets, London History: One of England's most historic and iconic sites, the Tower of London was built by William the Conquerer shortly after the 1066 Norman Conquests. It has variously been used as a menagerie, an armoury, a treasury and, most famously, a prison. It is the current home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. It has not been used as a royal residence since the beginning of the Tudor period in the 15th century.

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