Now that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are tucked away in Berkshire, on the grounds of Windsor Castle, their new home, Frogmore Cottage (not to be confused with Frogmore House, where the couple has their wedding party) is being prepared.
The move from Kensington Palace (christened as such in 1689) to Frogmore Cottage will be a big one, but their new residence is still steeped in history, says BBC. While Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry might be putting Frogmore on the modern map, other notables have lived, stayed, and been buried here, just a literal stone’s throw from the River Thames, which is how the Frogmore got its name. The plot of land is known to be marshy, and attracts a number of frogs from the nearby riverbank.
Frogmore Cottage was built in 1792 for Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, over 100 years after Frogmore House was built. The queen reportedly had the cottage built initially to escape the “pressures of court and royal life,” but biographer Helen Rappaport says it was likely more about escaping what was known as the “madness” of King George, and it was a place for the royal to hide out with her daughters.
“It was like a large retreat on the Windsor estate where she could go off and hunker down. The king had bouts of madness. He was probably quite difficult to live with and she probably used Frogmore Cottage as a retreat.”
The prevailing theory is that King George III struggled with porphyria, a disease of the blood with mental health and neurological symptoms, says History.com.
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The next resident of Frogmore Cottage was Abdul Karim, who arrived in England from India in 1887 to serve at Queen Victoria’s table, and soon became her close adviser and teacher, given titles, gifts, and access to Frogmore Cottage. Karim lived in the cottage with his wives, and refurbished the property in 1893.
But Karim wasn’t popular with the rest of court, and upon the death of Queen Victoria, he was evicted and deported back to India.
The next residents of Frogmore Cottage were refugees from Russia, relatives of Czar Nicholas II who fled the country after he and his immediate family were murdered. In 1925, King George V allowed the czar’s sister, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna and her family, to live in the cottage.
But the grand duchess’s family was destitute, and the house quickly fell into disrepair, according to a Ministry of Works official, who called the state of the house “deplorable.”
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After the Russian royal relatives moved out, Frogmore Cottage was used as housing for staff, as it was divided into five apartments.
Over the years, several notable royals have been buried on the Frogmore grounds, including Queen Victoria and her children, as well as King Edward VIII and his wife, Wallis Simpson, says The Inquisitr.
According to People, remodeling Frogmore Cottage and turning it back into a single family home for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is a big job, as the property was thought of as run down according to a royal source.
“[Frogmore Cottage] would need considerable, lengthy refurbishment. [Windsor] has more space for children and has a special place in their hearts.”