Saturday, December 4, 2010

Windsor Castle

To continue my stalking of the English royal family... Windsor Castle!

This is one of the locations I've long wanted to see in the UK, but with being busy and having already seen enough castles and grand buildings and palaces I wasn't sure I would make it out. But after doing an architecture final presentation on modern and revamped castles, I knew I had to go. Windsor did not disappoint me, even in the cold foggy weather that greeted me off the train station in the morning. I was among the first visitors admitted to the castle when the gates opened, and spent around two and a half hours exploring its walls and touring the state rooms. Windsor Castle has been a royal residence for over 900 years, and still serves as one of the homes for Queen Elizabeth II. It started as a medieval castle, and despite being greatly expanded in the 19th century (called "inspired propaganda" by some, when George IV used it to advocate a national idea of quintessential Englishness) it still has several rooms that were originally designed and furnished by earlier monarchs like Charles I and Henry VIII. Those two are buried in its chapel, along with Jane (Henry's favorite wife and one he actually didn't behead) and George VI. The state rooms were stunning, in a very Gothically-inspired way, with many jewels, paintings, and war armor/swords/guns on display - a bit too militarily gung-ho for me, but what else would you expect from a stone fortress? I find myself a bigger fan of the classical ornamentation of Buckingham palace. Windsor, however, was more historically fascinating than even Buckingham.

Feeling a bit suffused with English royals, I spent the afternoon wandering around the city and grounds, including the great park and long walk - which, true to its name, is indeed a very, very, very long pathway stretching out across the grassy plain towards a distant hill capped with a huge statue of George IV. Probably at least four miles roundtrip. My feet were aching. It was well worth it, though, for once I finally reached the end the view was absolutely unbelievable, English landscape stretching out all around and Windsor looming in the distance. (I'm sure it was romantically planned this way: arrive at the grand monument after a long pilgrimmage and have your breath taken away by the castellar silhouette on the horizon. Ideals of Englishness, indeed.)

All of this left me thinking of how strange it would feel to be born into the royal line, to live this sort of artificial existence in the public eye, virtually being a national symbol...

1 comment:

  1. I like the word castellar. =D Sometimes I wish I'd lived in Pride and Prejudice, but never thought about being truly royal before...hmm.

    Gorgeous pictures. Hope it's not too chilly there.

    Are you traveling with other people or by yourself?