THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED

A Tour of St. George’s Chapel

Greetings! It’s so nice to have you here today. I’ve recently returned from a visit to enchanting Windsor Castle. There I toured the romantic chapel where royalty are wed, St. George’s Chapel.

It was here at the beautiful Saint George’s Chapel, which sits inside the historic grounds of Windsor Castle, that people from around the world witnessed the wedding of Prince Harry and American Meghan Markle.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

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On the day of our visit to Windsor Castle we learned that the doors to the chapel would open at 11:00am for tours. So, having arrived at Windsor Castle when they opened at 10:00am, we headed directly to the Lower Ward.  It is there in the Lower Ward that the buildings owned and occupied by what’s known as the “Chapel College” take up about a quarter of the whole of Windsor Castle.

Chapel Real Estate in Blue

A Brief History of St. George’s Chapel

The Chapel was originally built during the reign of King Henry III (1216-1272) and was known as the Chapel of St. Edward the Confessor. Then in 1348, King Edward III (1327-1377) established the Order of the Garter, whose patron saint was St. George. Ultimately by 1475, King Edward IV (1461-1483) decided that Windsor Castle would be the headquarters of the Order of the Garter. He expanded and renovated the chapel in a grand style to reflect the prestige of the Order, renaming it St. George’s Chapel.

The Chapel College was founded in 1348, the same year the Order was founded. The College now consists of St. George’s School (a school for 400 children), St. George’s House, the Military Knights of Windsor, the Chapter Library & Archives, the Choir and St. George’s Chapel itself. It is a community of people who live and work together at Windsor Castle. Their objectives are to offer worship to God, prayers for the Sovereign and the Order of the Garter, service to society and hospitality to visitors.

The Exterior

As we made our way toward the Chapel entrance I couldn’t help but remember watching all of the guests arriving at the Royal wedding of Harry and Megan (photo below). It was fun to realize I was walking along the very same path.

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THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

While St. George’s Chapel is open as part of the Windsor Castle tour, at the same time it remains an active center for worship, with daily services open to all.

A VISIT TO ENCHANTING WINDSOR CASTLE | St. George's Chapel | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

St. George’s Chapel is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in all of England. As we walked toward the entrance I snapped many photos of the beautiful exterior and its stunning stained-glass windows.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The Albert Memorial Chapel shown above as viewed from the exterior, was first built by Henry VII as a royal mausoleum and was later restored by Queen Victoria. She named it to commemorate the life of her beloved consort (spouse of a reigning monarch), Prince Albert. Prince Albert died of typhoid at Windsor in 1861. He was buried in a spectacular mausoleum that Queen Victoria constructed at Frogmore, located in the Windsor Home Park. That mausoleum is currently being renovated.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

We found our way to the entrance of St. George’s Chapel and just inside the doorway was a small bench. There Brad and I sat, waiting for the doors to open. Visitors actually access the interior of the Chapel through this small side door. It’s located below the arch shown in the photo below.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

From my perch on the bench I looked up and admired the beautiful arched ceiling.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Everywhere one looks there is loveliness to be found.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Below is a closeup photo I took of the door to the Chapel. Promptly at 11:00am the door was swung open and Brad and I were the first to enter.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I later recognized the man who opened the door as the same one shown in the photo below. That photo of the Royal family was taken outside St. George’s Chapel on Easter Sunday, 2019, the day after our visit. We missed the Royal family by one day.

As we entered the Chapel one of the first things we came upon was the West Window. It sits above the west entrance to the Chapel, which I’ll show you again later from the exterior. This window is said to be England’s 3rd largest stained-glass window. Each of the 75 individual windows represents a king, princess, pope or saint.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

One of the most beautiful things about this romantic chapel where royalty are wed is the beautiful and intricate stone ceilings seen throughout the building.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The Quire & The Order of the Garter

In medieval times, King Edward III was so inspired by tales of King Arthur and the chivalry of the Knights of the Round Table that he set up his own group of knights and called them the Order of the Garter. Nearly 700 years later, the Order is the oldest and most senior Order of Chivalry in Britain. The Knights, now both male and female, used to be limited to aristocracy, but today they are chosen from a variety of backgrounds, in recognition for their public service.

The Quire contains the stalls (seats) of the Knights of the Order of the Garter. Today, the Order includes the Queen, several senior Members of the Royal Family, and 24 knights chosen in recognition of their work. Knights of the Garter are chosen personally by the Queen to honor those who have held public office, who have contributed in a particular way to national life, or those who have served the Sovereign personally.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

When the Monarch bestows the Order of the Garter, a stall is provided for the Knight or Lady for the duration of their life. Above these stalls hang the banners, swords and crested helmets of the nearly 1,000 holders of the Order. Some banner designs have been passed down over many generations. Many relate back to the Knight or Lady’s achievements or background. Perhaps the only places physical crests are still seen are in the chapels of Britain’s orders of chivalry.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Royal Weddings

Many Royal weddings have been celebrated in St. George’s Chapel, the first of which was in 1863 when King Edward VII married Queen Alexandra. Other notable royal weddings held there include the 2nd wedding of Prince Charles to Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005, and the wedding of Prince Edward, Charles’ younger brother, to Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999. And of course the family tradition continued with the recent marriage of Charles’ son, Prince Harry to Meghan Markle in 2018.

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Their ceremony took place at the alter located inside The Quire where the most favored guests were seated in the Order of the Garter’s stalls. It was very exciting to be inside that very room and imagine what it must have been like for an American girl to marry a Prince.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Garter Day

Each June the Knights of the Order of the Garter process through Windsor Castle to a Thanksgiving Service in the Chapel. This is also when new Knights & Ladies are installed. It so happens that this year the Garter Day ceremony will take place next Monday, June 17th.

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The Resting Place of Kings

Beyond weddings, the chapel is also the final resting place of several important figures in the royal family including Henry VIII, Charles I, King Edward IV, King Edward VII, King George III, King George IV, King William IV and King George V, along with Harry’s great-grandparents, King George VI and the Queen Mother. I understand it is also the planned burial site for the Queen.

Here is the tomb that holds the remains of Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour, as well as Charles I.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Exiting the Chapel

At the west end of the Lower Ward is the Horseshoe Cloister, originally built in 1480. It is a group of building built very near to the rear of the chapel and is used to house its clergy.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

We were very surprised to find a beautiful large door wide open, which lead us into the area where we discovered the Grand Victorian Door and Staircase of St. George’s Chapel.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

This Grand Victorian Door and Staircase is used on ceremonial occasions, and is so tucked away in the rear that you’d almost miss it if you didn’t go exploring like we did.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

You’ll recognize it as the steps from which Prince Harry and his bride Meghan Markle emerged after their wedding ceremony.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

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The Horseshoe Cloister

What is oh-so-surprising about the Grand Staircase is the fact that it opens directly onto the grassy courtyard of the Horseshoe Cloister, the living quarters of the clergy. And there is very little separation of the two areas.

My photos don’t illustrate it well but you can see in the drawing below how the steps literally dump right into the Horseshoe Cloister.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

These building house the vicars-choral, or lay clerks of the chapel, the Dean and Canons. They also house Chapel offices and a library. Anyone living in these homes would have had the best seat in the house to view Harry & Meghan exiting the chapel after their wedding. It is also where they shared their first kiss.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | Horseshoe Cloister | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

It’s really amazing the access visitors to Windsor Castle are given to this private living quarters area.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | Horseshoe Cloister | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

While the homes were charming, if I lived there I think I would feel as if I lived in a fish bowl. As evidenced by the amount of dust on the exterior furniture, I’m guessing the residents don’t use their outdoor living space too frequently. Doing so would subject them to the prying eyes of tourists like me.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | Horseshoe Cloister | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

But aren’t the doors and leaded glass windows simply wonderful? Despite the lack of privacy, getting to live in such a charming abode is a very nice job perk.

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | Horseshoe Cloister | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED | St. George's Chapel Windsor Castle | Horseshoe Cloister | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Well, that concludes my tour of the romantic chapel where royalty are wed. I hope you enjoyed it.

For visitors to Windsor Castle touring St. George’s Chapel is included in the admission price. On Sunday the Chapel is closed to tours for religious services that are held throughout the day. Visitors are welcome to attend the daily services. For more information about St. George’s Chapel visit their website by clicking here.

So there you have it: THE ROMANTIC CHAPEL WHERE ROYALTY ARE WED

Thanks so much for dropping in!

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All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Unless otherwise noted, all photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission.

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