Anmer Hall: inside Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Norfolk home
Prince George and Princess Charlotte spotted with their mother close to the family’s country retreat
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children are believed to be spending half-term at Anmer Hall, their country home in Norfolk.
Kate Middleton, four-year-old Prince George and three-year-old Princess Charlotte were spotted at the Houghton Horse Trials, held in the grounds of Houghton Hall, a ten-minute drive from the family’s ten-bedroom Georgian property, over the weekend.
George, who apparently has a keen interest in emergency vehicles, was seen exploring a fire truck, while Charlotte ate an ice cream.
Anmer Hall is the “perfect place for George and Charlotte to spend their school holidays, and for Kate to recuperate following the birth of baby Louis”, says Hello!.
The country pile, located in the Queen's Sandringham Estate, was George and Charlotte's first home, before the family moved to Kensington Palace in London, notes the magazine.
Here is everything you need to know about the house:
Anmer Hall, which boasts a swimming pool and private tennis court, was given to the Duke and Duchess by the Queen. It was originally intended as a country property for the couple, but following the birth of Princess Charlotte in 2015 they took up full-time residence in Norfolk, as William focused on his family and flying career with East Anglian Air Ambulance.
Since then, the couple have assumed a more prominent public role and taken on more official royal duties as the Queen passed on many of her responsibilities to the younger generations of the family.
The extra commitments meant William was forced to give up his flying career and, with Prince George now at school in London, the family are spending considerably less time in Norfolk.
Yet the couple still see Anmer Hall has their family home and following the birth of their third child, Prince Louis, last month it could offer a welcome respite from the paparazzi.
The property is also near Prince George’s godfather William Van Cutsem and his wife Rosie, who live in Hilborough, just 40 minutes away.
William's cousin Laura Fellowes lives relatively nearby as well in West Norfolk, and his school friend Archie Soames is in West Barsham Hall in Fakenham, according to Hello.
The couple spent several million pounds refurbishing the ten-bedroom Georgian mansion. Documents posted on the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council website showed that the prince and his wife had applied for planning permission to demolish their existing tennis court and create a new one with an artificial grass surface a little further from the house.
The plan was part of a “comprehensive overhaul” of the grounds at Anmer Hall, intended to improve privacy for William, Kate, George, Charlotte and now Louis. They are also said to have a new “glazed garden room” and a new kitchen.
The couple reportedly spend a lot of time socialising in their kitchen, something which the Queen “couldn’t get her head around” when she first visited them at Anmer Hall, one insider told the Daily Express.
“In her mind, that is where all the kitchen staff work,” the source said.
Refurbishment for the vast house, described by the Daily Mail as a “secluded fortress”, was largely paid for by the royal family from private funds. The decor has been brought into line with the royal couple’s taste, and involved an extensive tree-planting programme to afford the Duke and Duchess greater privacy, according to Hello.
The property was also given a new orange roof, visible in the picture below.
The Duke and Duchess have also completed a £4.5m refurbishment of their residence in Kensington Palace, Apartment 1A, which was formerly the home of Princess Margaret.
Royal aides defended the renovation, the Telegraph says, noting that the once “uninhabitable” apartment had been transformed into the couple’s “one and only” official residence, which they would occupy “for many, many years to come”.
No 'social hotbed'
Anmer Hall itself is a “comfortable, unpretentious Georgian” building, says art historian Sir Roy Strong in the Daily Telegraph. With large sash windows, Anmer “has a gentleness to it”, but it is well located with ready access to the Duchy, Windsor, London and several racecourses.
“There is very little going on at all at Anmer,” one source told the Telegraph. “It is certainly not a social hotbed and there aren’t any fabulous shops to visit.”
The royal family are able to go about their business in privacy there, protected by the newly planted trees, with a “battery” of close protection officers on duty round the clock and all visitors “closely monitored,” the source said.
The Duke and Duchess have tried to keep their household staff “to a minimum”, Hello says, but they hired a full-time maternity nurse through Norland nanny agency to work at Anmer Hall for the three months after Princess Charlotte was born and are expected to so the same now Prince Louis has arrived.
In March 2016, the Duke and Duchess placed a discreet advert in The Lady magazine, which gave a “fascinating glimpse” of what life is like is like at Anmer Hall, “a life with children, dogs and jovial family meals at its core”, says the Daily Telegraph.
The advert read: “Housekeeper sought for a large family home in Norfolk. We are looking for someone with previous housekeeping experience, ideally within a large private house, and preferably within a family environment with dogs.”
The couple were also keen to emphasise that “discretion and loyalty is paramount”.
However, it appears working in the royal household is a tough job. In May 2017, the Daily Mail reported that a housekeeper who earned £35,000 a year to cook, clean and shop for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children in their Norfolk home quit her job after the post became “too demanding”.
Sadie Rice had worked at the couple's country home for two years, but reportedly refused to spend more time at their London home, Kensington Palace.
Following the birth of Princess Charlotte, police in a Norfolk village near Anmer Hall handed out letters warning the media not to harass the royal couple, saying William and Kate had asked photographers to respect their privacy after being subjected to "a number of intrusions" by paparazzi with long lenses.
The three-paragraph letter said that the couple "have a more than reasonable expectation of privacy" while they are at Anmer Hall and on the Sandringham Estate.
It continued: "There have in the past been a number of intrusions into the privacy of the Royal Family which in the main have been as a result of professional photographers using long-distance lenses, not only to observe the Royal Family, but also to photograph them going about their activities on the estate."
Pictures courtesy of Richard Humphrey/Wikimedia Commons