The date is set, the wedding invites are out and the venues have been confirmed. After tying the knot in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, then heading to the nearby Hall for a formal lunch (hosted by Her Majesty the Queen, no less), Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be joined by 200 close friends and family for a wedding reception at the nearby Frogmore House. It's a historic venue that holds a special place not just in this couple's love story, but in other royal romances going back several generations. Even if you haven't snagged an invite (sigh), here's everything you need to know about the secluded royal retreat that's captivated Harry and Meghan.
Once inside the building’s crisp white façade, Frogmore’s décor is surprisingly eccentric, boasting murals showing scenes from Virgil’s Aeneid, the ‘flower room’ which recreates the feel of an arbour and the Britannia Room, which features a selection of odds and ends from the Royal Yacht Britannia. The gardens are a personal favourite of the Queen, who has introduced over 4,000 trees and shrubs across the 35 acres. Last year, she described Frogmore as ‘a wonderfully relaxing environment,’ one that ‘holds a special place in [her] family’s affection.’
Currently uninhabited, its main use is now as a venue for both private and official royal engagements. And as for the name? The official line is that ‘it derives from the preponderance of frogs which have always lived in this low-lying marshy area,’ according to a description on the royal family’s website.
Frogmore, which was initially built by King Charles II’s architect and intended for his nephew, has officially been in royal hands since 1792, when it was bought by King George III as a country residence for his wife, Queen Charlotte. Later, it became the home of Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent (indeed, both are buried – the former alongside her husband Albert - at the Royal Mausoleum in Frogmore’s grounds). Away from the bustle of the city (and set back from the formalities of Windsor), it has played a pivotal role in a handful of royal romances: King George VI and the Queen Mother passed some of their honeymoon at the House, and more recently it hosted the wedding reception of Peter Phillips, son of Princess Anne, and Autumn Kelly.
Found in Windsor Home Park, the House is half a mile south of Windsor Castle, where Harry and Meghan will be tying the knot on May 19th
Why it's a special place for Harry and Meghan
Harry reportedly wooed Meghan with a summer picnic at Frogmore last year; the couple later used the residence as the backdrop to their stunning engagement photos, which were released just before Christmas. Then, in January, reports emerged that the couple were keen to use Frogmore as their reception venue, despite the fact that royal aides were supposedly attempting to ‘gently veto’ the venue in favour of St George’s Hall (where it’s since been confirmed that the formal wedding lunch, hosted by Her Majesty the Queen, will take place). In this case, it seems their persistence has paid off – though the Queen almost certainly had a hand in making the final call. ‘The one person who would have readily approved of their choice was the Queen, for whom Frogmore is a very special place,’ a source told the Express back in January. ‘She] would also have loved the family to see what had been done at Frogmore: the house has just been renovated by a group of friends as a [70th wedding anniversary gift to her and Philip.’
How you can visit
If you fancy experiencing Frogmore for yourself, you'll have to plan ahead: it's perhaps the most elusive residence in the Royal Family’s extensive property portfolio. The house and grounds are open to the general public for just three days during early summer, from 5th to 7th June between the hours of 10am and 4pm (though pre-booked groups of 15 or more can enjoy a private guided tour throughout the month of August, so start assembling an elect group of fellow royal aficionados ASAP).